new holiday items

I love the power of language, both written and spoken—and from what I’ve gathered, words matter to you too. Here are two word-centric new items in the online store this holiday season:

Lyric Note CardsLyric Note Cards. I’ve handwritten the lyrics of “The Atheist Christmas Carol” and “The Last Snowfall” in fir tree and snowflake shapes, respectively, which we’ve printed on gorgeous recycled paper stock from Neenah Paper. Blank on the inside, so you can craft your own message to complement what’s on the cover. Sort of like we’re co-writing, really…

d.light logoHoliday Phone Calls. Connect me with someone you love and support a great cause all at once! My friend Ned Tozun was one of the first people to encourage me to pursue music (we were both 15 at the time), and he’s done incredible work with his own life: Ned is co-founder of d.light, which brings solar-powered lighting systems to millions living without electricity all over the world. All proceeds will go to Kopernik, which runs d.light’s charitable programs. Very limited quantity of calls—every conversation will be special. Looking forward to wishing happy holidays to some new friends!

Posted by Vienna in General

The Fourth Messenger premiere

_The Fourth Messenger_ posterFor the past several years, I’ve been collaborating with playwright Tanya Shaffer on a new musical theatre project, a re-imagining of the life of the Buddha as a woman in contemporary times. Thanks to your generous support of our fundraising campaign, our labor of love is set to premiere in February! Tickets just went on sale today.

I’ve been stealing every free moment from school to finish composing the music and help the orchestrator get everything ready for rehearsals, which kick off later this month. You can follow our progress on the official site and The Fourth Messenger Facebook page. Look for more updates from me soon!

Posted by Vienna in General

personalized live album book to support Kiva

TMAV coverKiva logoAs winter semester kicks off at school, I’ll be looking for new ways to procrastinate on job interview prep and schoolwork. What better way than to scribble notes to you and your friends—and support a smart nonprofit at the same time?

Through the end of January, the good people at Port Merchandise will be taking orders for personalized copies of The Moment Always Vanishing book: the collection of photos, essays, and fan artwork that accompanies the 2009 live recording I made with the multi-talented Alex Wong.

$15 of each book sale will fund loans through Kiva, a great nonprofit that connects micro-lenders like you and me with small business owners around the world. (Fun footnote: turns out Kiva founder Matt Flannery listens to my music and comes to Bay Area shows whenever he can—thanks Matt!)

[ Order a personalized copy of The Moment Always Vanishing book ]

Posted by Vienna in General

Dreaming Through the Noise songbook pre-order

David Beattie’s done it again! After months of painstaking work, he’s completed the piano songbook for Dreaming Through the Noise. This was a particularly challenging one, since I wrote this collection of songs with ensemble rather than solo piano in mind; this book showcases David’s arrangement talents as well as his keen transcribing ear. Hope it brings much enjoyment to all of you fellow piano players, singers, and human-powered home karaoke systems. Pre-orders ship January 20.

Posted by Vienna in General

help bring a new musical to the stage!

I write to you from snowy Michigan, with thoughts of comfort and joy and a partridge in a pear tree—and a humble plea for your help. In brief:

* I’ve written a musical!
* It’s a collaboration with award-winning playwright Tanya Shaffer, along with many other brilliant, hard-working people in theater.
* Now we’re raising funds for the premiere production, and you can help get us there. (Psst: there are rewards involved, too.)

We’ve decided to raise $80,000 to produce a four-to-six week run of The Fourth Messenger in early 2013. We hosted our first fundraiser in July and raised $35,000 in contributions, bringing us almost halfway to our goal.

Here’s where you come in: we’re raising the rest through an online IndieGoGo campaign. A generous donor has promised to match each contribution dollar-for-dollar up to $20,000. That means if you give $10, we get $20, if you give $50, we get $100, and onward and upward! The donor will deposit the matching grant every time we pass a $1000 benchmark, so you can watch online as our tally grows. Because we’re fiscally sponsored, your gifts are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. And of course, we’ve got perks that we’ll send you for various levels of contribution.

It doesn’t take a village to bring a musical to life—more like a small nation. Thank you for being a part of ours.

IndieGoGo - Click to Contribute

Posted by Vienna in General

new videos

A few multimedia clips that might interest you:

The talk/performance I gave at TEDxBoulder 2010. Theme of the night was "Truth and Beauty." Not sure if I stuck to that, but it was a wonderful evening to be part of, and I’m glad they let me on stage in bare feet.

A lovely, subtly emotional stop-motion clay animation of "1br/1ba" by blueplanetpiano. Like the song itself, it’s almost G-rated.

"The Tower" gets a crush on a whole new set of boys: the ever-soulful David Berkeley, trumpeter/multi-instrumentalist Jordan Katz, and ninja videographer Matthew Washburn. Special thanks to David for letting me join in at his show that afternoon for KC Turner’s House Concerts.

Posted by Vienna in General

new song “The Breaking Light”: download to support relief efforts in Japan

Alex and Vienna have released an exclusive benefit single, a live recording of a new song called “The Breaking Light.” 100% of proceeds go to relief efforts in Japan.

You can download it at Alex’s Bandcamp site:

The story:

A few weeks ago we tried covering Vampire Weekend’s song “I Think Ur A Contra,” using only the sound of Alex’s waterphone and Vienna playing the rim of a wineglass. It went over decently that night at Rockwood, but we thought the idea was worth exploring further, so we set a goal to write a whole new song around that sound—in time to perform at The Bell House two days later. On the car ride over to the venue, we had an arrangement but no words; we were still frantically writing lyrics as the opening band started their set. Sometimes songs are most fun written that way—quickly, one idea building off another, with no time for second-guessing or over-analyzing.

When news of the earthquake and tsunami reached us, we decided to record this new song at a live show and release it as a benefit single. Fortunately, the audience that night at Yoshi’s Jazz Club in Oakland, CA were more than game to join us. We’ve set the minimum donation at $5.00 but you are welcome (and encouraged) to donate more.

Thank you so much for listening and helping, and an extra special thanks to the audiences at Yoshi’s that night for their gorgeous choir singing!

Posted by admin in New Releases

a song in one day: Dubway Days on Breakthru Radio

Last summer I got to reunite with fellow songwriter Ben Arthur (from the 2004 Modern Troubadours tour) and the excellent crew at Dubway Studios (where we recorded part of Inland Territory), to make the premiere episode of Dubway Days, their brand-new video series on the creative process. The premise was to write, arrange and record a song in a single day. How’d it turn out? You can judge for yourself in the final installment…

Posted by Vienna in General

NPR’S California Report, Earphoria interview

A couple of interviews I did a while back have aired recently:

  • A short piece about the song “City Hall” for NPR’s California Report, in conjunction with current developments in the same-sex marriage debate.
  • A longer session with, complete with a cappella snippets of songs I grew up with, from backstage at the Outside Lands festival in 2008.
Posted by Vienna in Media Appearances

cover song on Kerrigan-Lowdermilk album

Last summer I got to meet up with musical theatre composers Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk, to work on a re-interpretation of a song from their show The Unauthorized Biography of Samantha Brown. It’s now the opening track on their new album, Our First Mistake. You can listen to “Say The Word” and other songs from the album on the Kerrigan-Lowdermilk website (“My Party Dress” is my personal favorite).

Posted by Vienna in General