The Why
Posted on October 26, 2016 in Composition

Nearly a year ago I deigned to let the cat out of the bag and blogged about a project I began researching and writing – From Whence I Came. To encourage myself to keep moving forward on this idea I took some time this past spring to put together a killer proposal for a McKnight Fellowship Grant. The funds would allow me to pay for some of my time to write a full-length stage production I’ve titled Borderland. I had a couple things going against me to receive this fellowship. First, my art was multidisciplinary involving skills as a composer, lyricist and playwright and I wasn’t sure if I could effectively demonstrate all three of those disciplines in my proposal. Second, I had never applied for a McKnight Fellowship before and I had no clue as to what exactly the grant committee felt was worthy of dropping thousands of dollars into my hands. The morning of my review I looked over my application and read and listened to my samples of work. I had ten minutes of time to make my case to the reviewers, which shrank down to seven when I included the three minute musical composition they were going to hear. I pondered for quite a while and in frustration thought, really, what more could I say that wasn’t evident in my application? Minnesota Nice dictates you don’t toot your own horn too loud lest you make yourself out to be egotistical, so, how was I going to fill up those seven minutes?

I spent a good hour in meditation, hoping God, the Universe, and good karma was going to provide me with an AHA! moment. And then the epiphany came. I knew WHAT I was able to do. I had to convince the committee as to WHY the project should be written. Long story short, the WHY was very convincing and I left after three hours of listening to a dozen different proposals and discussion on each of them with a McKnight Fellowship.

As a younger adult I believed that talent, education, hard work and the right opportunities are what would move me forward in my profession, barring any dire circumstance that throws me for a loop. That could be enough to live my life comfortably. But comfort isn’t a top priority for me, which either makes me sadistic or a daredevil. Something more than comfort has to get me up in the morning and that something is passion, the need to fulfill a greater good than just earning a paycheck. Just like my pastor husband, we do what we do because in our hearts and souls we can’t do anything else. I don’t feel his drive for what he does and he doesn’t feel mine. We however, understand the WHY in each other, and you can’t ask for anything more in a life partner.

So as The Pastor goes about with his calling in life this week, I’ll be going to New York City to follow mine. Time will be spent with my dear friend Jamie Cesa to review the outline of the story, focus on dramaturgy and discuss the leitmotive that intertwine throughout the production. This process of writing a stage production is more than I envisioned when I was ten years old and decided to put on a show in my backyard.

On this trip, I also have the great privilege to interview the author Timothy Snyder whose book Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (2010) compelled me to write Borderland in the first place. With many unanswered questions I have regarding what was happening sociologically in Eastern Europe before and during WWII, especially within the realms of the small villages my parents came from, I envision Borderland being as historically accurate as possible with the assistance of Mr. Snyder’s vast knowledge and research. I’ll keep everyone apprised of all the “goings-on” on my professional Facebook Page Natalia Peterson Entertainment & Media .

Finally, I recorded a demo of one of the pieces that will be featured in Borderland. Joining me are my daughter Tanya Miller, and my partner in performance, David Melbye. Details of the November 10 concert with me and David are coming up!


Village of Rosachy, Ukraine in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains

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  1. Toni Behling /

    I am moved…so beautiful; full of searching and longing. You sing quite well together.

  2. Lynn Maiers Paulson /

    How very beautiful – full of searching, longing in haunting melody lines & beautiful harmonies that soar and retreat. You capture the essence of Eastern European music so beautifully!

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