Marti's Blog

Imagination (and the Dangerous Consequences of a Lack Thereof)

Small children all have prodigious imaginations. Observe any preschool classroom, and you will see that every child exhibits some sort of expression of wonderful and nonlinear thinking. Somewhere along the way, many adults seem to lose access to this part of themselves. I would even suggest that our country seems to be mired in a kind of Cold War, a kind of Civil War, between people who can access their imaginations and people who can’t, or won’t.

Evidence of this is the recent news about a group of straight, white men trying to organize a “Straight Pride Parade” for Boston later in the summer. This group of people looks at the LGBTQ community and wonders why they get their own parade; why can’t we straight people have one? Some of the more hilarious comments about this on Twitter and Facebook point out that every time there’s a celebratory parade for a sports championship, that is a kind of straight parade. The problem, though, is that this small group of straight white men lacks the ability to imagine why a group of people might need some sort of public celebration of who they are. The LGBTQ community has routinely been discriminated against, denied access to health care, denounced by religious institutions, etc. etc. (for a better explanation, please read ”LGBTQ Allies at Pride Need to Know These 9 Things Before They Go”: Straight people are not targeted for their sexual orientation. So, for some, it’s impossible to imagine that a group of people could be targeted for that reason. STRAIGHT PEOPLE DON’T NEED A CELEBRATION PARADE because we have nothing to celebrate that our privilege doesn’t afford us every single day. This is an example of a lack of imagination on the part of the Straight Pride organizers.

A lack of imagination, or access to imagination, is clear when you hear someone say “Black Lives Matter? ALL LIVES MATTER!” Again, people who say this are unable, or unwilling to imagine a reality that is not theirs; a reality in which you are at risk of losing your life just because of the color of your skin, or a reality in which you can’t enjoy the art at a local museum because patrons and staff assume the worst of you because of your skin color. Black Lives Matter is necessary because the default in our society is that only white lives really matter. If you are white, you don’t see the discrimination, bias, and threats that people of color experience. Again, we white people need to access our imaginations in order to see things we don’t experience.

A lack of imagination is how our country got in this particular pickle (constitutional catastrophe?) we are currently in. Too many people couldn’t imagine a woman president. Her faults were so magnified that they trumped (pun intended) the daily moral and legal transgressions committed by the person who did get elected. Women must be gold to do a bronze job, the saying goes. We have to be beyond perfect because too many people can’t imagine us in positions of authority or power.

The bias against women, the lack of imagination about who we are and can be, is deep and often not conscious. Recently I was one of 6 composers commissioned for a certain project. At the culmination of the project, checks were issued to the male composers. A check was not brought for me and I had to fight for weeks to get paid. Did the organizers say “Let’s not pay Marti because she’s a woman”? Of course not, but even more insidious is that I wasn’t even on the radar. I am often left off of email lists for groups I am in. Do people do this intentionally? I doubt it. But, once again, I am not on the radar. A former student of mine told me that she, an expert in electronic music and sound production, was not taken seriously by a sound engineer at a concert where she was trying to work on the correct levels for her piece. Every single woman professor I know has stories about the young men in their classes not taking them seriously, and often openly defying them and questioning them. Recently I was at a lecture-demonstration by Dr. Kate Biberdorf (aka Kate the Chemist at She is amazing and brilliant AND HAS BEEN ON STEPHEN COLBERT so I asked her if she experiences this problem. Her answer? “Every. Single. Day.” What does all of this have to do with imagination? I think we all need to take it as a given that we have unconscious biases about things, and try to access our imaginations to root them out. Once we are aware of them, we are a step closer to eliminating them. Assume that you have unconscious bias about people who are not like you.

In addition to experiencing bias as a woman (and by the way, while the above examples may not seem bad to you, try to imagine them happening all day, every day- it is a death by 1000 pinpricks), I also have the apparent invisibility that comes with age, height (lack thereof), and appearance. Every day I am bumped into, ignored in restaurants, generally treated as if I weren’t there. “I didn’t see you” is not an apology. Try to imagine that there are people around you whom you don’t see at first. Look around, look up, look down. Look away from your phone. See the humans around you and celebrate their infinite variety of existence. Imagine us, and imagine our excellence. I promise you it won’t detract from your own.

Watch This Space

[CONTENT WARNING: there is no shameless self-promotion in this blogpost. If you want to know more about me and my music, find the navigation buttons at the bottom of this site.]

Blogpost to follow soon….

March Madness

Hi Everyone-

There are several concerts featuring my music during this month of March 2019. I hope to see you at one!

Friday, March 15: Guerilla Opera is presenting a new production of my first opera, Rumpelstiltskin. This performance features shadow puppetry by the brilliant Iranian theater artist, Deniz Khateri. The performance is Friday March 15 at 7:30 p.m. at First Church of Boston, 66 Marlborough Street. Follow this link for tickets and more info:

Saturday, March 16: Winsor Music presents the Diaz Family Concert and the premiere of my new piece for the Diaz Family, Yet There is Hope. Time and Tide Flow Wide. The concert is at First Church of Boston. Follow this link for more information:

Wednesday, March 27: Boston Conservatory graduate student cellist Ben Baker will give a recital including my piece for solo cello, so near, so far. Ben’s recital is at 8 p.m. in room 106 in the 132 Ipswich Street Building.

Friday, March 29: Boston Conservatory graduate student pianist Kevin Madison will give a recital featuring the premiere of my new concerto for piano and 13 instruments, The Mystical Cosmetic. This piece was written for Kevin to play on this recital. The performance will be at 8 p.m. in room 106 in the 132 Ipswich Street Building.

Winter/Spring 2019 Performances of Marti's Music

Thursday, January 24, 2019, 8 p.m. Boston Conservatory Seully Hall: Mary Magdalen for soprano and cimbalom performed by Jennifer Ashe, soprano, and Nick Tolle, cimbalom

Friday, February 22, 2019, 8 p.m. Longy School of Music Pickman Hall: boutonniere (premiere) for piano and percussion performed by Donald Berman, piano, and Nick Tolle, percussion (

Saturday, March 16, 2019, 8 p.m., St. Paul’s Church in Brookline: New Song for the Spirit (premiere) performed by the Diaz family (

Friday, March 29, 2019, 8 p.m., Boston Conservatory Ipswich 106: The Mystical Cosmetic (premiere) for piano and 13 instruments performed by Kevin Madison and friends.

Also, dates and times TBA, Guerilla Opera will be presenting a new production of Marti’s first opera, Rumplestiltskin, featuring puppetry by theater artist Deniz Khateri. Watch this space for more information!

When It Rains, It Pours

I am so fortunate to have a plethora of performances coming up in the next week! If you can come to any of them, please do- but as always, all I ask is that you care-

June 13, 2018 Guerilla Opera EMERGENCE : this concert includes a performance of the first scene from my 2008 opera, Rumpelstiltskin. 8 p.m., Oberon Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

June 19, 2018 Trinity Wall Street Time's Arrow Festival: this concert includes 2 of my string quartets, Hidden Flowers and Phosphenes alongside string music by one of my heroes, Anton Webern. 1 p.m. St. Paul's Chapel at Trinity Church, New York, New York.

June 20, 2018 Summer Institute of Contemporary Performance Practice (SICPP): this concert features my 2011 piece Troubled Queen. 8 p.m. Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory, Boston, Massachusetts.

June 21, 2018 Trinity Wall Street Time's Arrow Festival: this concert includes oil & sugar, my piece for violin, flute, clarinet, and piano as well as my solo harp piece Wonders of the Invisible World. 1 p.m. St. Paul's Chapel at Trinity Church, New York, New York.

June 21, 2018 Water Music at Make Music Boston: this festive outdoor concert features the premiere of my newest piece, blinding vapours of foam and white-fire for 57 brass players, percussionists and singers. 7:30 p.m. Charles River Esplanade, Boston, Massachusetts.

June 24, 2018 Boston Symphony Chamber Players: this concert will include Komorebi, my trio for violin, oboe, and clarinet. Mendelssohn Salle at the Gewandhaus, Leipzig, Germany.

Deepest gratitude to all these performers!!!



winter/spring 2017-18 Performances of Marti Epstein's Music


December 1, 2017  RESCHEDULED FOR MAY 10, 2018 Lydian String Quartet, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts: Hidden Flowers, Phosphenes WORLD PREMIERE.

January 22, 2018 Aliana De la Guardia and Steve Marotto, Different Kinds of Light; soundenergy string trio with Deniz Khateri, puppet artist, Hero and Leander; Boston Conservatory Seully Hall, 8 The Fenway, Boston.

January 27, 2018 Linsey Chapel at Emmanuel Church, Boston and January 28, 2018 Eliot Church, Newton Corner, Cappella Clausura, Amelia LeClair, conductor: Parandehaya Forugh/Forugh's Birds-Birds of Blaze WORLD PREMIERE THIS PERFORMANCE HAS BEEN CANCELED! Details to follow.

February 16, 2018 Ludovico Ensemble, St. Paul's Church, Brookline: Dirl WORLD PREMIERE

March 10, 2018 EQ Ensemble presents Kathleen Supové, New School of Music, Cambridge: ...the one warm spark in the heart of an arctic crystal...

watch this space for venue and ticket info, or contact



Marti's Winter/Spring Concerts


January 23, 2017 Boston Conservatory Seully Hall 8 p.m.   On Monday, January 23, 2017 the fantastic Boston-based string trio, sound energy (Micah Brightwell, Ashe Gordon, Ben Swartz), will be performing a concert of my chamber works. They will be joined by Elizabeth England, Rane Moore, and Lilit Harutunian. FREE ADMISSION.

January 27, 2017 Harpa Concert Hall Reykjavik, Iceland:   Duo Harpverk will perform Virga, a piece I composed for them in 2015, as part of Iceland's Dark Days Music Festival.

March 31, 2017 Boston Conservatory 8 p.m. (location tba):    The Conservatory's Classical Contemporary Music Program spring concert will feature a performance of my large chamber ensemble piece, Troubled Queen. FREE ADMISSION.

April 7, 2017 Open Sound at Third Life Studio Union Square, Somerville 8 p.m.:   I will be performing my piano piece Haven as well as a piece by local composer Hallie Smith.

June 9, 2017 Equillibrium Ensemble Third Life Studio Union Square, Somerville 8 p.m.:   I will be premiering Paul Fake's Piano Sonata. I am sharing this program with clarinetist Gleb Kanasevich.