Trailer for the final show of “City of New York, 2013”



Meet the Players: Eric Lemmon, violist

Eric Lemmon is great violist who has been playing a lot with Aerial Photograph this year.  I really enjoyed his answers to the questions I posed to him. Learn more about his music and musical life at  – Thanks Eric!!!

eric lemmon

When did you start playing music/viola? What got you to start playing? 

I started playing piano when I was seven and picked up the viola when I was 12.  It’s a little fuzzy as to what really precipitated my starting piano, but I think my parents made my brother and I both take piano.  I studied with this amazing old pianist named Mrs. Barnhart.  I think that she was the one who really cultivated my love for music, as she let me write my own pieces, and didn’t kick my ass about boring technical stuff while I was young.  Maybe she was and I just didn’t realize it because she was an exceptional teacher. In 7th grade, I had started doing too many extra curricular activities, so my parents forced me to choose between viola and piano.  I cried my eyes out and then I chose viola because I could play with other people.

Who are some of your biggest influences as a violist? As a musician in general?

As a violist, it’ll have to be my teachers and instructors.  Each one has imparted really different important aspects of technique and musicianship.

As far as who I want to sound like?  It’s funny, I’ve looked up to beautiful aspects of my peers’ playing more than William Primrose, Kim Kashkashian, Roberto Diaz, or any other famous soloist.  In composition, Beethoven is the one who cemented my decision pursue a life in music, wherever that journey may take me.   He represents clarity, brilliance, and most importantly, hard work.


Do you have a favorite performance you’ve done in the last few years?

This is tough.  Maybe Mahler 5 with the Sheep Island Ensemble, or playing as a ringer for the Yamaha Junior Original Concert?  The latter was great, because I got to work and rehearse with some of my students in addition to kids from all over the east coast who wrote pieces for Viola and Piano.

I know you work with a lot of different ensembles that do a wide variety of genres. How do you maintain balance in your music/practicing/scheduling/sanity?  Any specific things you do to keep focused in your musical life?

Balance? What’s that?  Truthfully, I try to always make sure I’m doing something productive with my time.  I fail at this a lot, but whatever I’m doing, it gets me by.

Do you have any specific practicing routine that you work through?  How do you practice?

Currently I’ve been starting by doing scales and arpeggios, moving onto technical exercises and then etudes, and finally rep.  This general structure means that I always build technical elements from the ground up, even within a practice session.  It also helps keep the earlier technical work focused, as technical work inside of a piece can become distracted by having to combine all the elements of the music.

What have you been listening to these days?

I listen to a lot of Minimalist composers in addition to a range of pop/rock, soul and jazz.  Choosing one from each category, I’d say I’m listening to Philip Glass, Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, John Coltrane.

Do you have any book recommendations?

The Phantom Tollbooth.  It’s for kids, but it’s a wonderfully profound book in a whimsical way.  There are many allegorical moments in the book.

What are some of your goals for the future?

World domination.

Any additional thoughts? 

Playing with Aerial Photograph has been a ton of fun this year.  The music is great, and the concept can be funny, poignant, sad, and enlightening.  Because of the range of populations that can be surveyed over a year, one really gets the broad range of the human experience here in NYC.  I’m all about opening up ontologies.

Small world

With Veterans Day having just past, I thought I would share an experience I had with a vet I met earlier this year – 

       In April, I was walking downtown near Harold Square towards Chinatown. I noticed a man sitting in an alcove with a cardboard sign saying something like “lost my job, need work boots for a job I was hired for next week, veteran, god bless.” After thinking about it for a minute, I went up to him and asked him if he really just needed boots for a job. He said yes, and then began to tell his stories of woe – bad luck, a bad woman, got mugged, no money… I asked him what war he fought in and he said “Bosnia, ‘94 to ‘97”, and then told me a bunch of stories about his time in the service. Unlike some of the other stuff he said, I could tell he wasn’t making anything up with these stories. I enjoyed talking and listening to him.

      Then it got really surprising… I asked him where he was from and he said Philly. I lived in Philly for 10+ years, so I was surprised and asked him where and when. It turns out that he lived a block away from me in Fishtown on Frankford Ave. in 2008 when I lived there. Crazy right?! He knew people and places that I knew.  He even knew a brother of one of my teachers.  We talked about Philly and all the changes that have happened there in the past few years. We talked for a while longer, I gave him a few bucks and kept walking.  I would never have thought that I had any connection to this guy on the street, but we had a ton of connections and talked for almost 40 minutes. You really never know. What a small world.

I hope he got his boots.

Thanks for reading.



Hi all, 

I’ve been reading a lot lately about drug abuse, addiction, recovery, and how all of these things relate to our society. This month I am writing music based on conversations with individuals who have overcome drug and alcohol addiction – the recovery process is a brutal experience for a lot of these people, but ultimately one which is often filled with profound hope and gratitude. 

I came across these eye opening facts about addiction from the website for The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University – It’s worth a read if you have a minute. Some of it really surprised me. 

Talk soon,


A child who reaches age 21 without smoking, drinking or using other drugs is virtually certain never to do so.
Teens who have infrequent family dinners are more than twice as likely to say that they expect to try drugs in the future.
Teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to have used tobacco; almost twice as likely to have used alcohol, and one and a half times likelier to have used marijuana.
5.7 million (26 percent) of public school students ages 12 to 17 say that their school is both gang- and drug-infected (drugs are used, kept or sold on school grounds).
Teens who attend schools infected with both gangs and drugs are five times likelier to use marijuana; three times likelier to drink; twelve times likelier to smoke; three times likelier to be able to get marijuana within an hour or less and five times likelier to get it within a day or less; and nearly five times likelier to have a friend/classmate who uses illegal drugs like acid, ecstasy, methamphetamine, cocaine or heroin.
Teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco or marijuana; more than one and a half times likelier to use alcohol; and twice as likely to expect to try drugs in the future.
Teens who have seen their parent(s) drunk are more than twice as likely to get drunk in a typical month, and three times likelier to use marijuana and smoke cigarettes.
In 2009, more than one third of teens (8.7 million) said they can get prescription drugs to get high within a day; nearly one in five teens (4.7 million) could get them within an hour.
70 percent of abused and neglected children have parents who are risky drinkers or use other drugs.
Half of college students binge drink and/or use other drugs and almost a quarter meet medical criteria for alcohol or drug addiction.
Forty-nine percent (3.8 million) of full time college students binge drink, misuse prescription drugs and/or use illegal drugs.
1.8 million full-time college students (22.9 percent) meet the medical criteria for substance abuse and addiction.
In 2001 there were 1,717 deaths from unintentional alcohol-related injuries on college campuses.
In 2001, 97,000 students were victims of alcohol-related rape or sexual assaults on college campuses.
In 2001, 696,000 students were assaulted by a student who had been binge drinking on college campuses.
25.9 percent of underage drinkers meet clinical criteria for alcohol addiction.
Each day more than 13,000 children and teens take their first drink.
Children and teens that begin drinking before age 15 are four times likelier to become alcohol addicted than those who do not drink before age 21.
If a teen is drinking, the odds are that teen is getting drunk – and teens who get drunk are much likelier to try marijuana and hang out with friends who are misusing prescription drugs or using illegal drugs.


1.5 million of the 2.3 million inmates in the U.S. meet the DSM IV medical criteria for substance abuse or addiction.
458,000 inmates have histories of substance abuse; were under the influence of alcohol or other drugs at the time of their crime; committed their offense to get money to buy drugs; were incarcerated for an alcohol or drug law violation; or shared some combination of these characteristics.
Only 11 percent of all inmates with substance abuse and addiction disorders receive any treatment during their incarceration.
In 2006, alcohol and other drugs were involved in 78 percent of violent crimes; 83 percent of property crimes; and 77 percent of public order, immigration or weapon offenses; and probation/parole violations.
Alcohol is implicated in the incarceration of more than half of all inmates in America; illicit drugs are implicated in three quarters of incarcerations.
Only two percent of all inmates are incarcerated for marijuana possession as their controlling or only offense.
Eighty percent of the nation’s adult inmates and juvenile arrestees either committed their offenses while high, stole to buy drugs, violated alcohol or drug laws, had a history of substance abuse/addiction, or shared some mix of these characteristics.
Only 3.6 percent of the 1.9 million substance-involved juvenile arrestees receive substance abuse treatment.
At least 30 percent of adults in prison for felony crimes were incarcerated as juveniles.
Ninety-two percent of arrested juveniles who tested positive for drugs, tested positive for marijuana; 14.4 percent, for cocaine.
Four of every five children and teen arrestees in state juvenile justice systems are under the influence of alcohol or drugs while committing their crimes, test positive for drugs, are arrested for committing an alcohol or drug offense, admit having substance abuse and addiction problems, or share some combination of these characteristics.

Cost to Society

Substance abuse and addiction cost federal, state and local governments at least $467.7 billion in 2005.
For every $100 spent by state governments on substance abuse and addiction, the average spent on prevention, treatment and research was $2.38; Connecticut spent the most, $10.39; New Hampshire spent the least, $0.22.
For each dollar in alcohol and tobacco taxes and liquor store revenues that federal and state governments collect, $8.95 is spent on shoveling up the consequences of substance abuse and addiction.
Almost a quarter of a trillion dollars of the nation’s yearly health care bill is attributable to substance abuse and addiction.
Of every dollar government spends on substance abuse and addiction, 96 cents goes to shovel up the wreckage in crime healthcare and other social costs; only 2 cents goes to prevention and treatment.
90 percent of homeless have alcohol problems; 60 percent abuse other drugs.
Underage drinkers and adult pathological drinkers account for at least $48.3 billion and as much as $62.9 billion in alcohol sales in 2001.
Alcohol abuse and addiction cost the nation an estimated $220 billion in 2005 – more than cancer ($196 billion) and obesity ($133 billion).

Women and Girls

Girls and women become addicted to alcohol, nicotine and illegal and prescription drugs, and develop substance-related diseases at lower levels of use and in shorter periods of time than their male counterparts.
Fifteen million girls and women use illicit drugs and misuse prescription drugs.
Thirty-two million girls and women smoke cigarettes.
Six million girls and women are alcohol abusers and alcoholics.
Girls and young women are likelier to abuse substances in order to lose weight, relieve stress or boredom, improve their mood, reduce sexual inhibitions, self-medicate depression, and increase confidence.
High school girls drink, smoke and use illegal drugs as much as their male classmates.
At the same level of exposure to tobacco smoke, women have a greater risk of developing lung cancer than men.
Teen girls are more likely than boys to use over-the-counter drugs to get high.
Nearly one-quarter of all girls report beginning to drink alcohol before age 13.
Alcohol is involved in as many as 73 percent of all rapes and up to 70 percent of all incidents of domestic violence.


In 2007, approximately 204,000 high-school seniors used marijuana on a daily basis.
Almost 10 million 12- to 17-year olds can buy marijuana within a day, and almost four and a half million can buy it within an hour or less.
Since 1992, there has been a 175 percent jump in marijuana potency.
Scientific research suggests possible associations between marijuana use and schizophrenia, other psychotic disorders, and other mental health problems.


12- to 17-year olds who smoke are more than five times likelier to drink and 13 times likelier to use marijuana than nonsmokers.
61 million Americans are hooked on cigarettes.
Smoking at a young age is related to panic attacks, general anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Illegal Drugs/Rx Drugs

The number of illegal drug users has risen to 20 million in 2005.
Since 1992, the number of teen illegal drug users has more than doubled to 2.6 million in 2005.
85 percent of Web sites selling controlled prescription drugs do not require a prescription.
From 1992 to 2003 the number of Americans abusing controlled prescription drugs jumped from 7.8 to 15.1 million.
Prescription drug abuse is the most rapidly increasing drug abuse among teens.
Five million teens can get prescription drugs to get high within an hour.


1 in 4 Americans will have an alcohol or drug problems at some point in their lives.
The number of alcohol abusers and addicts holds steady at about 16 to 20 million.
Half of college students binge drink and/or abuse other drugs and almost a quarter meet medical criteria for alcohol or drug dependence.
Forty-nine percent (3.8 million) of full time college students binge drink and/or abuse prescription and illegal drugs.
In 2001 there were 1,717 deaths from unintentional alcohol-related injuries on college campuses.
Each day more than 13,000 children and teens take their first drink.
Underage drinkers and adult pathological drinkers consume between 37.5 percent and 48.8 percent of the value of all alcohol sold in the United States.
Six million girls and women are alcohol abusers and alcoholics.
The incidence of lifetime alcohol abuse and dependence is greatest for those who begin drinking between the ages of 11 and 14.
90 percent of homeless have alcohol problems; 60 percent abuse other drugs.