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Helen Yee – Before the After

Kalamazoo Farmers Market (Bank Street Location)



Kalamazoo Farmers Market (Bank Street Location) – 1204 Bank Street

42.279807, -85.574942 : Directions

Musician's Notes

To me the Kalamazoo Farmers Market is a vital hub of the community, where on Saturdays people come together in a marketplace that fills the senses – the colors of fresh produce and local products filling the stalls, the hum of conversations and music in the air, enticing aromas wafting from food trucks. It feels like one of the most happening spots in town, and we seem to always run into people we know. Through this weekly rhythm of visits to the farmers market, I feel more connected to Kalamazoo.

Vendors and customers need one another to make a healthy and vibrant market, and it made me think of the phrase “it takes two to tango.” When I chose this place as my inspiration, I imagined I would write a piece filled with the energy and liveliness of the market in the full-on bounty of the season. However, when I visited the site to gather inspiration and get a feel of the place, I encountered something very different. In late winter I saw a space of waiting – raw, urban, weathered, empty. Listening, I heard only the presence of occasional traffic, an airplane, the wind and birds. In the midst of planning this composition I also learned that for the 2021 season the market would be relocated to another spot in town. It seemed this place would now only exist in a zone hovering between memory and imagination. The pandemic “season” is also present here, as we yearn for what was and pause in an open space, uncertain of what might come after.

This tango-inspired piece, “Before the After” is a meditation on connection and separation, on a space without its inhabitants. What is essential, what makes the Kalamazoo Farmers Market come to life each week, is the people who come to the place. We bring our needs and wants, as shoppers and vendors and neighbors, we meet one another and we part, and we look forward to coming back again and again.



Helen Yee
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Ted Hogarth
Baritone saxophone
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Erin Malley & Doruk Golcu
Argentine tango dancers
Website  |  Facebook  |  Instagram  |  Vimeo

Film collaboratively developed by Helen Yee and Erin Malley.


Helen Yee

Helen Yee is a violinist and composer with experience in a broad range of genres. Often incorporating violin with live looping and electronics, she creates evocative solo and collaborative work.

With her work for the plays Miss Julia and Pillowtalk she has toured New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, Europe, and South America. In 2020, she composed and performed music for the New York premier of Lovesong (Imperfect), written and directed by José Rivera. Her work creating music for dance companies includes collaborations with Mark Lamb Dance, Chris Ferris and Dancers, and Kinesis Project Dance Theatre.

Helen was a founding member of Invert, a string quartet that released three CDs of original music with roots in rock, jazz and world music, and she later joined the eclectic Trio Tritticali. Her musical studies began with Western classical and traditional Chinese training and, after earning her BA at Yale University, she played in rock bands and studied privately with jazz and improvisation teachers in New York City. Helen has been honored to be a fellow at Music Omi International Musicians Residency.

Now residing in Kalamazoo, she has presented her solo work locally and has also been performing jazz manouche with The Birdseed Salesmen.

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