January 7, 2004 looking west How Does Chester Shape
Those Who Live There?

"Chester students this year are studying how where we are shapes who we are, and how where we’ve been and where we’ve grown up shapes what we’ve chosen to do with our life. . . So today the students are going to talk to somebody that very emphatically says that where he has been and where he grew up shapes who he is and what he does." Renee Rasmussen (Chester High School English Teacher) Listen.

"Fishbowl" interview with renowned pianist Philip Aaberg
who left urban California to return to the land of "the long view."

January 7, 2004
field report by Michael L. Umphrey

"The landscape and the way I grew up really inspired what I wrote. . . So finally we moved back here just because we could. . .Patty runs our business, and we have our own record company. We do a lot of booking out of the place. . .My whole recording studio is right here. This is it, pretty much–a computer and a couple of microphones. And all we need outside that is DSL, which Chester has, and a phone. So what if we have to wait an extra day for packages. Big deal. We just felt better being here. Most people who move back to Montana go to Kalispell or Bozeman or Missoula or Billings. They’re too big for me. . .There wasn’t enough reason for me to be in California."  Phil Aaberg (January 7, 2004)

Listen to Phil discuss the way fly fishing on the Marias River inspired one of his pieces.

Michael Umphrey's 1999 Subaru Impreza

Early Wednesday morning and only Marias Pass lies between me and a performance/lecture in Chester by internationally acclaimed pianist and composer Philip Aaberg. From his website:

"He finds devoted listeners among rock, country, new age, blues, jazz, and classical music fans, and his range of performances includes everything from solo piano concertos with the Boston Pops Orchestra to appearances with luminaries like Peter Gabriel Elvin Bishop, and John Hiatt. He tours and records in two duos: with slide guitar innovator Roy Rogers, and with master fiddler Darol Anger. Phil has been a guest on over two hundred albums, from multi-million selling pop and country to experimental jazz with bassoonist Paul Hanson. His album "Live From Montana" was nominated for a 2002 Grammy. In addition, his performance on PBS's "All-American Jazz" was nominated for an Emmy." http://www.philipaaberg.com

fishbowl interview, Chester, Montana
Renee Rasmussen's class conducted a fishbowl interview in the Liberty County Arts Village. Phil answered questions with both words and musical illustrations.


Chester, Montana, January 7, 2004 Taping Philip Aaberg concert for the Library of Congress
Sierra's job was to document the
event with still images.
Michael's job was to make video and audio recordings.
Phil said that growing up in a community like Chester had a strong influence on his life. "Music doesn’t exist without an audience. It just does not exist. It’s much more than having someone to listen to it. It’s the whole participation by everybody...So I think having a community that was listening to me, who supported what I do, really influenced what I have wanted to do in my life, and that is that I’ve always wanted to play concerts as well as do the records...Being in Chester and having that whole idea of community has influenced me in that way."


Chester High School, Montana January 7, 2004, Chester, Montana
Students had done a lot of preliminary research and asked good questions, including some that Phil said he had never been asked before. Some answers were provided by playing pieces that illustrated the way life in the small town West has shaped Phil's music.


Pianist reflected in grand piano, Chester Montana 2004

"[Growing up in a small town] has made me go into the world expecting to succeed, and I think that’s one thing that a small town does. . .Thinking that we can do it makes us try a lot of different things that we wouldn’t normally try. . .Having the community be small enough that you can take part in pretty much anything that you want to do and be successful at it to a certain degree really changes the way you look at the world. . .The community I grew up in really strongly influenced what I’ve done."