Been a while since my last post. Lots has happened since then, and I'm glad I finally have time to update you all on the goings-on that have been going on.
First off, I finished my string quartet! It ended up being a short set of three miniatures clocking in at around 6 minutes total. So happy to be finished with this thing, as I've been wanting to get some more chamber (or chambre—what have you) music under my belt. I've been at a loss for a title for the piece for a little while. I've sort of settled on simply Three Miniatures, although, a friend of mine and fellow composer Abbie Betinis has astutely suggested that I name it something that is closer to the beginning of the alphabet so it doesn't get lost at the bottom of music catalogs. With that in mind, I might call it Aaaaaahhhh! Three Miniatures! Either way, you can read all about it on the piece's page. There's also a perusal score up there for your viewing pleasure, as well as an electronic rendition of the piece (so you don't have to audiate twelve-tone polyrhythms). The piece was read by the wonderful Amernet String Quartet earlier this year. Unfortunately, it turns out the piece is incredibly difficult to read—pretty easy to play once you know it, but a cold read is quite challenging. The reading session was also cut a bit short due to time constraints. Therefore, I'm sticking with the electronic rendition for now, and I'll try to get it premiered and recorded at Ithaca in the fall (probably October 2013). Big thanks to the Amernet Quartet, however! Their initial read provided me with great insights into the piece that really helped me make some important final tweaks.
I also finished my choral piece! Hurray! :) Lullaby of the Iroquois was finished on March 14th in the sweltering heat of Dallas, Texas during the 2013 ACDA National Convention (which was a blast by the way, got to meet some wonderful directors, singers, and composers such as Abbie who I mentioned before. She's amazing, by the way. Probably my favorite choral composer at the mo'. Check her out.) It's scored for SSAB, Elementary School choir, and piano, and it was written for a commission from John Spiezio III and Paul D. Schreiber High School in Port Washington, NY (in long island). It is the first in a set of annual choral pieces that the high school will commission from Ithaca College composers. I'm honored (or honoured—what have you) to have been asked to write the very first one. The piece was premiered on May 1st in Port Washington, and the word of the street is they really sang the heck out of it.
That comes as no surprise, as I had the pleasure of meeting John and his choir during the Ithaca College Choir Lincoln Center Tour. The IC Choir—of which I am a part (Tenor 2 FTW!!!)—went down to Paul D. Schreiber High School in April to do a set of workshops and performances. Not only did I have the opportunity to hear John's choir, but I also had the wonderful privilege of singing with them in a performance of Something Like A Star from Randall Thomson's Frostiana. They are truly some of the most sensitive and musical high school singers I have met, and I have no doubt that they're going to do a wonderful job with the Lullaby when I get to see it sung for the first time on May 30th (nine days!!!).
Sara's song cycle is coming a long nicely. :) Very exited to be working on this, as I mentioned before. It's not often that you get to write for your favorite (or favourite—what have you) musician ever, so I've been taking my time with the piece to make sure every note is perfect. I spoke with Sara about a month or two ago, and she told me I could take my time (although, to be honest, I really want to get this thing done so I can hear it, haha). Most of the hard part is finding the text. I could do a whole blog post on choosing text for music, but the main challenge I'm facing is finding a text that is musical and whose content is relevant to the theme of the cycle. It also needs to have the right vowel sounds, and not have any weird words. Sometimes a single weird word can sort of spoil the whole poem. Sometimes not. Depends on the piece. It's also nice if the poem is in the public domain so one doesn't need to secure any sort of permission to use it. Anyway, I might end up pulling a Berio for the next movement, and strip the phonemes from a haiku and use those. Or something. We shall see!
I should also mention that the Swingle Singers, my favorite ensemble ever, is having a sort of Kickstartery Thing for their upcoming 50th Anniversary album. They have lots of awesome pledge prizes like personalized Skype calls and beatboxing lessons (or even some of Sara's original jewelry!), so show your support, as they are awesome.
For those that are curious, I have some new projects that are currently underway. You know what that means—list time:
- Sara's Song Cycle
- A book of Piano Nocturnes
- A piece for Wind Ensemble
- A chamber opera
- More choral music
Let me take a second to go over what each one of these things is. Just real quick.
Let's see, you know about Sara's thing, so that's just carrying over from last time. The nocturnes is a project inspired partly by my buddy and composer Adriel miles (he likes the lower-case m. Homage to Cummings or something? Not sure). Adriel recently wrote a set of eleven (that's 11) piano preludes in the spirit of Debussy and others. Not to be outdone, I embarked on an journey to write twelve (that's 12) nocturnes in the spirit of Chopin and others. To be honest, I'm not sure whether it's going to be twelve. I originally chose twelve as sort of a joke in order to one-up Adriel, but now I'm thinking I might write more. My goal is to write one every night for the next couple of weeks, then maybe go back and polish some things. These nocturnes will also help my piano writing, and I like the idea of writing a lot of shorter pieces better than the idea of writing a long sonata. It takes a lot of the pressure off, which makes the process a lot easier.
The wind ensemble piece is something I've wanted to do for a while. It's not for any commission or anything. I just want to write one.
I plan to make it beast.
The chamber opera is an idea I had to set a certain Spanish play to music. I haven't really seen a lot of Spanish opera around. Like ever. So I figure I may as well set some Claderón to music and see what happens. I think it has the potential to be very successful, especially considering how naturally rhythmic the Spanish language is. Plus, it'll be nice to get singers to perform works that are not in one of the standard 5 languages (English, French, Italian, German, and Latin). There are quite a few Czech and Russian operas out there, so I'm excited to get a Spanish one out of the gate.
This will also be beast.
I also plan to write a good amount of choral music over the summer. In Songs of the Madman—which won the 2nd Annual Ithaca College ACDA Student Composition Competition (Woo hoo!)—I explored some techniques that are not often used in a lot of popular contemporary choral music, and I'm excited to continue my exploration in that regard. It will also be nice to expand on my catalog.
That's where things stand at the mo'. Oh! Almost forgot! There are new pictures of me up for viewing. That one of me at the piano at the top of the page there is new. There are also some new banners here and there, and some new things in the Photos section. Big thanks to Adriel for taking them. There are still a couple of banners that need filling. But soon... it will be complete! Muahahahaha!