Report on 2023 Sitka Recorder Residency

Report from Annette Bauer, 2023 Sitka Recorder Resident

In March and April of this year I spent six weeks as the recorder resident at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology on the Oregon Coast. My residency was generously supported by the ARS Professional Development grant, for which I am very grateful -- I want to sincerely give my thanks to the ARS!

I had been a recorder resident at the Sitka Center once before, back in 2009. Coming back to the lush, green, rainy, wild, beautiful Oregon coast after 14 years -- which included eight years on the road as a musician with Cirque du Soleil, having a baby, and adjusting to life during a pandemic -- was an extraordinary, and I would even say healing, experience. It is a beautiful thing when we get to return to meaningful places in our lives. The Sitka recorder residency comes with the gift of time, is set in the most stunning natural area, offers space for creativity and individual artistic exploration, as well as inspiration through the wider artistic community and fellow residents from within the Sitka Center.

My focus and goals for my time at Sitka were threefold:

  1. Reconnecting to my instruments and reestablishing a daily practice. My experience as Cirque du Soleil musician, performing the same show frequently and repeatedly (I counted over 2300 shows…) over a long span of several years had shifted my personal practice routines in a particular way during that time. With the musical material and the choice of my instruments set, my daily focus and care became more about making sure I supported my body to be able to maintain this kind of intensive, repetitive performance schedule physically, rather than exploring lots of different instruments or a wide range of repertoire. The goal of “back to basics” practice during my time at Sitka was a wonderful way for me to reconnect with and re-affirm my own personal sounds, my practice rituals, and my musical voice. One particular interest in my exploration of new-to-me repertoire at Sitka were historical compositions and texts relating to water and nature, from Hildegard von Bingen to Van Eyck and beyond, inspired by the gorgeous natural setting where I found myself.

  2. Unlocking new technical skills: I put a lot of attention in my practice routine on Renaissance bagpipe, medieval-style double recorder, and pipe and tabor, three of my long-term “wish list” projects, with the very concrete goal to play all three of them in concerts in Montreal in May with the medieval Ensemble Scholastica. (The concerts went very well, and I am so thrilled with the successful integration of these instruments into my vocabulary of sounds!) Photo: Ensemble Scholastica concert in Montreal, 5/23
  3. Exploring interconnection between my visual and musical creation process. While I was on tour with Cirque du Soleil, I began informally using photography as a medium to capture some of my impressions from life on the road, and of the many countries we visited and worked in. I find that there is an artistic and receptive “eye” that opens especially when we find ourselves outside of our usual day-to-day environment. On a musical level, responding with improvisation to inspirational prompts in our lived experience is another way of expressing what moves us. Out of these two interests, and as a first tiny step into the world of creative multi-media exploration, two music video projects arose. The first one, RECONNECTION, started with a musical improvisation on a Swedish folk instrument, the Offerdalspipa, and was inspired by watching a full moon rise, and by the heart-expanding feeling of my first few days back at Sitka - the visual collage of the images taken during my first few walks then followed the musical shape I had first laid out. For the second project, AIR, I consciously began with video footage I had taken on the stretch of beach near the Sitka Center, which is accessible only by kayak across the Salmon River. It took me almost to the end of the residency to figure out how I wanted to respond musically to these visuals, and I was surprised how different the process of creating music prompted by images turned out, compared to the other way around.

YouTube videos, Reconnection (left) and Air (right) are here:


Finally, I wanted to share a little bit about the wonderful social and communal aspects of my residency experience.

Very importantly, my family (my husband and our 3 year old daughter) were able to come visit me in the middle weeks of my residency. I am deeply appreciative that this was possible, and that the Sitka Center so graciously provided us with housing that could accommodate all three of us. As the mother of a young child I would not have been able to take this much time away from home otherwise. It is wonderful when you feel supported not only as an artist, but also as an artist with a family! We hiked up the Cascade headlands, explored the river estuary and the beach, visited coastal tide pools, and a historic light house. My daughter’s favorite activity was running, dancing, and digging on the vast stretches of sand.Witnessing my daughter experience the ocean for the first time in her life was mesmerizing for me. Paddling across the Salmon River in a kayak at low tide with her, and having a curious harbor seal swim up really close to us, snort a little bit into the water, and then look up at us from merely a few feet away (“Schau mal, Mama, ein Hund im Wasser!” (Look, mama, there is a dog in the water!) is just one of many precious moments I will always remember.  Photos: Annette's daughter on the beach; husband and daughter on Cascade head; family photo from a rainy hike.


The cohort with the other Sitka residents felt especially cohesive and enriching this time around. We were a beautifully balanced group of individuals working in different avenues: writers, visual artists using textile, sculpture, painting, photography, multi-media, music… I was deeply inspired learning about each of their work and larger creative vision. We also created the first in-person Open Studio event at Sitka together since the beginning of the pandemic.We held regular dinner potlucks in the Sitka library, which were such a great way of fostering informal, yet deep and personal exchange, and we also went on many hikes together, some of them quite muddy! I felt very acutely the great benefit of creatively working in parallel with others, and cultivating opportunities for mutual inspiration, feedback, and questions - my own creative process was deeply enriched by all of these exchanges. And I even got to take an introductory water color lesson from one of my fellow resident artists, Suze Woolf! Photos: Annette performing in the open Studio in front of artist and fellow Sitka resident Naoe Suzuki’s interactive installation “Flow”; residency cohorts stretching after a hike.

If you want to learn about the work of our resident cohort in more detail, you can check out the March Sitka Center Resident Talk on zoom, which is archived on YouTube here:

I would like to end by sharing one of my absolute favorite memories of my time at Sitka this year. Together with my friend and fellow artist resident, Daisy Braun, I went on a midnight kayak paddle on a clear, still night. We let ourselves drift inland and upstream against the flow of the river with the incoming tide under the magnificent sky filled with stars that were reflected on the water, and with shimmering, glittering sparkles of bioluminescence below us. In that moment, I felt so much that we are all part of an eternal song. Life pretty much doesn’t get more magical than that! I hold it as a great privilege to experience moments like this in the midst of our quite broken world. And it reconfirmed my conviction that in some way or another, all art is there to bring back into our consciousness and cherish the tender fragility and fierce beauty of our planet, nature, and our precious lives.


Annette Bauer is a recorder player and multi-instrumentalist. Born and raised in Germany, she holds a diploma in medieval and Renaissance music from the Schola Cantorum in Basel, Switzerland (2001), and an MA in music from the University of California in Santa Cruz (2004). From 2001-2012 she called the San Francisco Bay area her home, where she studied North Indian classical music on sarode, a 24-stringed lute, with her teacher Ali Akbar Khan, and worked as a freelance musician with early music groups all over the United States, including Piffaro, Texas Early Music Project, Magnificat, Canconier, Les Graces, and Farallon Recorder Quartet. From 2012-2020, she spent eight years touring the world as a musician for the Cirque du Soleil. Since 2020, Annette is now making a new home with her partner and young daughter in Montréal. She is currently sharing her love of music by offering online instruction to students of all ages, including an ongoing class on 14th-16th-century notation through Amherst Early Music, as well as teaching chapter workshops for the American Recorder Society and teaching in her private studio. She spent a few weeks in the spring of 2023 as returning recorder resident at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology in Oregon, where she composed and improvised music inspired by the visual beauty of nature, and worked on her pipe and tabor, double recorder, and bagpipe skills. She is also the new director for the summer recorder workshop of the San Francisco Early Music Society in 2023.
facebook: Annette Bauer - musician (page)
insta: @annettebauermusic