My road in southwestern Connecticut is home to 16 houses, even fewer than the short road one I grew up on in the southeast corner of the state. My mother knew just about everyone on our “trail,” and I hope to know everyone on mine. So far, so good. I mean, SO good, because my neighbors are kind and generous and talented. During this pandemic, we don’t see each other in person, save for a wave and hello called through the car window, but a handful of us have grown quite close.
I trace our closeness in part to Melissa Westgate, a professional cellist and composer. Before the shutdown in March, Melissa held a series of living room mini-concerts. We—Maria and Jens and Lynn and I—would walk down to Melissa’s, gather around her coffee table, and listen to her play, sometimes with a pianist, a violinist, or another cellist.
Melissa is brilliant and far too humble to admit it. Her cello, she says, is her singing voice. From just a few feet away, I felt that voice in my own chest, its tone rich and vibrant and pure. I miss a lot of things right now, chief among them gathering in enclosed spaces. In New York, I gathered with writers to share new work. Here, I gathered—and will gather again—with neighbors to share in our love of music and admiration for Melissa. It’s hard to overstate the joy of live music.
My co-editors and I launched Waterwheel Review this year to celebrate the literary arts without designating by genre. But it’s more than just the writing. A core part of our mission is to associate the written art we publish with other art forms: sculpture, painting, mixed media, photography, music.
This month, we feature JC Reilly’s “Pioggia” alongside “Cello Flight” by Melissa. Melissa’s piece has a storm-like quality without being threatening. It moves swiftly but mournfully too and, to my co-editors and me, is the perfect companion for JC’s piece.
Please visit waterwheelreview.com to read, view, and listen to our second issue. And for more of Melissa’s beautiful compositions, visit Melissa at melissawestgate.com.