Rachel Gordon’s lifelong interest in music and performing came to fruition last summer as a batch of new compositions “just kept pouring out.”
Rachel Gordon has spent the last 20 years helping people through their personal transformations. This last year, she has had a personal transformation of her own—becoming a composer.
Rachel had always been exploring music and art—from piano and flute lessons in early childhood, to voice study in college, to excursions into Off-Off-Broadway theater and improv comedy. But when she got engaged and moved to Iowa 15 years ago, Rachel chose to shift her attention to other things, primarily motherhood and professional work as an intuitive.
Many years passed without performing; the garden was untended. But last July, to Rachel’s amazement, a creative spark was rekindled suddenly and fiercely, and she is presenting the results of that renaissance in her upcoming show, “Untamed Angel: An Evening of Original Music, Musings and Heaven Knows What!”
The show debuts on June 12 at the Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts in Fairfield, and will feature original piano compositions and humorous musings on an interesting life. Rachel’s melodies incorporate hints of classical and Celtic motifs as well as the soaring, poignant strains common to lush cinema scores. Professional guest artists will share the stage with Ms. Gordon.
“This show didn’t exist—either musically or in my own imagination—a year ago,” Rachel said. “Intuitive work and teaching have been my main professional focus for the past 15 years. Then in late July 2008, I suddenly began to compose music on the piano for the first time in my life.
“I felt some days as if the music composed itself through me,” she said. “My fingers moved over the keys and the music just kept pouring out. I felt like a witness . . . giving birth to this. It was an incredible experience.”
Return of the Muse
As a child, Rachel found the arts to be a grounding influences. Whether she was singing, painting, or dancing, the beauty and harmony accompanying artistic pursuits “kept [her] afloat.”
“Music has always been the most healing outlet for me, in what was a largely intense upbringing,” she offered. “It’s the place I can feel free and whole.”
The move to Iowa coincided with some health issues, and Rachel couldn’t sing. Although she occasionally dabbled at piano, her main focus was a busy family life with her husband and two children (now 12 and 10) and continuation of her unusual occupation as an intuitive.
“An intuitive is someone who is born with an ability to sense things beyond time and space,” she said. “I receive divine wisdom regarding what a person needs in his or her life. It’s about meeting people at the soul level and giving them guidance.”
Rachel’s intuitive consulting and speaking grew through referrals. In 1995 she began teaching classes through the Kirkwood Community College Continuing Education program on building self-esteem and on improv comedy. As a result of the success of these classes, she created The AngelTrust Foundation in 1996. Soon she was consulting internationally. Her Iowa clients range from farmers to business executives. “It has been an incredible privilege and blessing to be able to do my work,” she says. “I’ve met the most wonderful people and have had some colorful experiences.”
A piece was missing for her, though. “I had denied myself as an artist. I was so immersed in the needs of my family, I didn’t know what the problem was. It was very difficult. Then my friend Carl, a concert pianist, visited me in 2008, and insisted I buy an electric keyboard and start experimenting. A month after his visit, that’s when it began . . . my fingers would start moving on the keyboard and a beautiful melody would come out. It was a humbling experience.”
Her family was an integral part of the process. The children loved how the music made them feel and requested the songs at bedtime.
For Rachel, composing this music feels like a lively co-creation between herself and “something angelic.” “Divine inspiration was definitely at work here,” she acknowledged. Some of the music was written in keys she would previously have shied away from because of the technical difficulty. “But life has moments of harmony, and life has moments of dissonance. These pieces of music were somehow translating the chords and melodies of my life experiences.”
Musically, Rachel’s compositions have affected listeners with their evocative power, sometimes playful, light, and ethereal, other times hypnotic or deeply moving. Personally, Rachel experiences the music as a dance between the human and the angel.
So why is this angel “untamed?”
“It’s about connecting with the deepest parts of ourselves and being free. We’re human and spirit together. It’s not only about being sweet and sentimental—but also sassy and defiant!”
Rachel feels fortunate to have the following artists join her: Atlanta-based concert pianist Carl Gales on keyboards; Washington D.C.-based flautist and author Peter Westbrook on flute; and Fairfield harper/singer/songwriter Rick Stanley on Celtic harp. Dancer Serenity Stone will offer her interpretive artistry as well.
“This show will be a journey I take with the audience,” Rachel added. “Heaven knows where it will go!”