Contributed photo                                Grisha Krivchenia.

Contributed photo Grisha Krivchenia.

Wisdom, stories of elders | Q&A with composer and musician Grisha Krivchenia

Local composer and musician Grisha Krivchenia has worked with elders and those entering the end of their life stages to create songs that tell the stories of their lives. He will be returning to the San Juan Community Theatre focusing on his collaborations with island elders in the second annual performance of “Up Close.” Performance times are Thursday through Friday, Sept. 13-14, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 15 and Sunday, Sept. 16, at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $17 per person and can be purchased online at or by calling the box office at 360-378-3210.

The Journal spoke with Krivchenia to learn more about this year’s event.

Q: Last year you worked with community elders as well as people toward the end of their lives. Is that the case this year?

A: Yes! This year’s “Up Close” performances will feature six new pieces written with elders in San Juan County.

Q: What will be different in this year’s performance?

A: Almost all of the pieces are new. We will be repeating Shann Weston’s “Wilderness in Me” to create some continuity with last year’s show and to repeat a gorgeous and powerful song!

Q: Why do you think music resonates with people on such a deep emotional level?

A: We are deeply musical creatures. Music connects with our fundamental needs for connection, communication, movement, intellectual stimulation and community.

Q: Who are some of the people you worked with this year?

A: This year I wrote original songs with a World War II veteran, a Colombian refugee and a woman who lost three life partners. I am immensely privileged to explore such a wide variety of human experiences.

Q: Over the years, in working with people facing the end of their life, is there a story that particularly stood out to you?

A: There have been so many. Every life story has compelling material. That said, I will never forget the Vietnam veteran who, after years of not talking about his military service, finally began sharing his war experiences with me and with his family.

Q: Is there anything you think the public should be aware of when it comes to entering the end of life?

A: Our culture relegates death to institutions and hospitals. This is a tremendous loss. Death is an important part of what it means to be human. The more out of touch we are, the more death becomes something scary, instead of a natural part of life. The sunset can be as beautiful as the sunrise.

Q: Is there anything attendees should keep their eyes and ears open for during the performance?

A: I would especially draw their attention to the fact that most of the pieces, musical and poetic, were written in collaboration with elders. The capacity to create does not wither with age; in many cases, it flourishes.

Krivchenia also added that the concert sold out last year, and advised people to buy tickets in advance to ensure seating.

For more information on the upcoming performance, visit For more info on Krivchenia, visit