That's true, right there. Usually when something falls through, it's only to make way for something better. (That's the way God works in my life.)
Well, to make a long story short, both of my exciting summer projects fell through. Andrew, the flautist commissioning the concerto for March, is not going to be the artist in residence with SEISO. And I will not be going up to Massachusetts in August for FredBrass. I will be going to Orlando in November for the National Young Composers Challenge, which I have won for the fourth year in a row. Still, this has left my summer relatively free of work. But I have been given a new project. One more exciting than both of these put together.
I have agreed to be the Composer in Residence with the Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra for their 2016-17 season.
I will be flying out to Iowa in March for two weeks of outreach in schools, lectures, and working with the orchestra, and SEISO will premiere a new work for full orchestra in their Spring concerts to wrap up the residency. This opportunity combines all that I love about music and hope to do full-time in the future: composition, education, outreach, and collaboration. I am incredibly humbled and thankful for this chance to do what I love.
So, over the next months, you, my faithful readers, will get to follow along as I compose a new 20-30 minute piece for full orchestra. I am still figuring out exactly how this will work, but hopefully this will be an awesome experience for you as well as for me, as I try to give you a glimpse into the creative processes that are at work behind the scenes in the composition of a piece.
Now, off to composing!
Well, I am two months into summer and still trying to find time to compose! Busyness is nothing new in my life, but it is challenging to make time for a consistent composing routine. Still, getting some work done. Finished the Fredericksburg Brass Institute's new Fredericksburg Fanfare, to be premiered at #FredBrassMass this summer, and I am currently working on a large-scale work for their faculty brass choir.
But some non-brass projects are in the works! A suite for two pianos, Dances of the Mind, will be premiered next year as part of my duo junior recital, and a set of Emily Dickenson poem settings are also in the works.
I have some other exciting new projects comingup...hope to share them soon! For now, \'d better get back to work!
This semester has been a mad rush from beginning to end, and now that I am almost done and have a few days to catch my breath before exams, I am able to begin to process everything that has happened.
It has sure been an amazing semester. Great classes and ensembles at UM. Commissions, performances, new friends...I couldn't ask for better opportunities. I wrote a 20-minute concerto for bass trombone, a brass quintet, and a concert band piece. I have done a lot of great work.
But I have also come to realize in a more vivid way over the last semester how much room I have to grow as a composer. (I know. Not something I should be saying on my website. But there it is.) As much as I am well grounded in what I do, I need to continue to better my means of expressing myself. I can never be content to remain on my current level. I will always have something deeper and more important to express, and each piece willl present new challenges, both practical and mental. In light of this, now that things are slowing down, I have a few goals for the summer.
1-Refine my method. I need to work towards more of a methodical approach to the assembling of whatever ideas I have. Not just in the concept of form, but also in regards to rhythm, dynamic contour, and actual melodic shaping.
2-Practice new techniques. This is a tough one for me. I don't want my music to be "experimetal", but I need to experiment to develop. Thus, I must write music that is not for the public, but just for me. Also, I must work at this musit as much as I would a commissioned composition, to find my voice in the new methods.
3-Scale back. I need to practice the little things...writing a solo paino work, or something easy to play, or something short. This is the only way I can gain confidence writing for larger ensembles, and doing it well.
So it looks like I have my work cut out for me this summer!
I thought that the orchestra couldn't get any better than Saturday.
I was wrong.
Sonday morning we headed out to Washington, IA, for lunch at a great Italian place. I love me some great Italian food, so that was nice. Then, we hurried over to Ottumwa, IA, for the second show. The pre-concert talk was not full, but we still had a great talk. The concert was amazing, despite a smaller hall and a smaller audience. The orchestra and Will really played well. Also, before the concert, I was handed some CDs of the Burlington show! That was pretty neat. (We also got a review in Sunday's Burlington Hawk Eye, which was really nice! Saturday's performance was "a wowzer!"
Immediately after Ottumwa, we raced back to Mount Pleasant for Concert Number 3, preceded by a dinner with the orchestra. It was really nice to talk to the musicians and get first-person feedback on the music. I always learn a lot from working directly with the performers of my music.
Concert Number 3 was by far the best, though. The entire dynamic was different, and the audience and orchestra alike were tuned in to the utmost degree. Afterwards, Will, Bob, and I had to come back out several times to bow, and the receiving line after the show lasted about 45 minutes! We then went back to the hotel, and Bob hung around as we rehashed the show and talked about life and how much fun the residency was.
Then, early Monday morning, everyone began the journey home. I'm typing this post from Charlotte International Airport, where I have a layover. I stayed over at Will's place in Chicago last night, after driving up there yesterday, and eating some awesome pizza.
All told, this residency has been absolutely life-changing. I am so blessed to be given such opportunities, and I look forward eagerly to the next such opportunity! Big things are brewing right now, actually, which is incredible! But now I musc get back to school...
Woke up late this morning, and got ready, hoping to head to the Old Threshers museum before the dress rehearsal. Alas, Old Threshers was closed. We got a few pictures, however. Instead, we went to a restaurant downtown, and ate lunch. Then, Will and I headed out to Burlington to the dress rehearsal there. The orchestra ran through the concerto once and touched spots, with Will and I talking a bit in between, and then we all ate a nice dinner that the orchestra catered, and got dressed. Then, Bob McConnell, Will, and I headed out to do the pre-concert lecture. It was fun...basically the same information Will and I have gone over in our interviews. Then I went out to sit in the hall.
The concert was phenomenal. The orchestra's effort was amazing, and all of the pieces on the program went well. But everyone seemed just a little more tuned-in for the concerto. The audience was silent through the whole thing, and the orchestra was fully engaged. Afterwards, the audience gave Will and the orchestra a standing ovation, I went on stage to join them, and we all took a few bows.
Then, as if we weren't tired enough, we headed over to a (unique) local art gallery for refreshments. Took more pictures, talked to moe people. Will and I finally made it home at about 11:30. One concert down, two to go!
Woke up insanely early because of the time change and my usual schedule, so I was able to get some work done before heading out. The first event of the day was an interview with KILJ Radio at 8:00 am. Then, I tagged along to Will's last school demonstration, which was fun. After that, the orchestra board member chauffeuring us around decided to give us a little local flavor, and took us to a small diner that had "the best pork tenderloin in Iowa". It was definitely good. On the way back to our hotel, we drove through a bit of Mt. Pleasant.
This is a gorgeous town! It is not new, but it is well-kept. The houses are all old midwestern designs with wooden siding, but they aren't falling apart and are newly painted. The storefronts are spectacular, most of them filled with some restaurant or other small business. The best part about Mt. Pleasant, though, is the Old Threshers' museun. The people of Mt. Pleasant host a fair dedicated to bringing back the turn-of-the-century Midwest way of life, complete with fully renovated and operational steam tractors and locomotives, a running narrow-gauge railroad, horse-drawn farm equipment, a working steam carousel with a real calliope, and more. We are headed back tomorrow to explore this in detail...which is going to be awesome.
Will and I took some time in the afternoon to go back over his part to At Sixty Miles an Hour and make some last-minute edits, then we schlepped off to the dress rehearsal. After a quick meeting with Bob McConnell, the director of SEISO, and a tasty Thai dinner, we got to Chapel Auditorium in Iowa Wesleyan, and set up. Rehearsal was amazing. The concert is going to be fantastic. So excited for tomorrow, with the final dress, and then the FIRST CONCERT at 7:30 pm CDT! This trip is unreal.
What an exciting day this has been! FLL-ORD-DSM, then a bus ride down to Iowa City, hten a car ride to Mount Pleasant, IA. Looking forward to getting around tomorrow, doing a radio interview about At Sixty Miles an Hour, and attending the dress rehearsal. For now, Shostakovitch and some much-needed rest...
Spring break. A chance to rest and watch movies? Yeah, right.
Over break, I accompanied the Westwood Christian School choirs and instrumentalists at a competition, involving an overnight trip chaperoning highschoolers. So that was fun.
Then, Sunday, I conducted the world premiere of Peace with the Gold Coast Community Band. The premiere was amazing. It was also the first time I have conducted a large ensemble in concert. Pressure? Hm...maybe a little. There were over 800 in attendance, including many big names in band music. I was shaky even before I got onstage. (And I'm not one to get nervous over music. Ever.) But everything went extraordinarily well. The band stepped up and really communicated through the music, and I didn't mess up my conducting!
So now for a REALLY relaxing week...oh, wait. Nope. Now for a concet today of orchestrated works from UM singer/songwriters (I'm conducting my own arrangement), then the premiere of At Sixty Miles an Hour in Iowa. So much happening, and I just can't contain my excitement!
Not sure what the answer to that question is, but I am trying to find out! In the next few weeks, I will be conducting the premiere of an orchestration of a song by one of UM's singer/songwriters, performing with the Westwood Christian choirs and soloists at a fine arts competition in Jacksonville, conducting the world premiere of Peace with the Gold Coast Community Band, flying out to Iowa for the premiere of At Sixty Miles an Hour with Will Baker and the Southeast Iowa Symphony Orchestra, and perhaps, squeezing school into that schedule somewhere.
Bud wonderful. I am so grateful that I get to fill my life to the brim with things that I love most. I don't have to work a boring job behind a desk. I get to be creating beauty (ok, and occasionally ugliness...) on a daily basis, and then helping bring it to others. So no matter how busy my schedule gets, it's never depressing, only exciting. Hopefully I have this many opportunities in a month once I get out of college and actually need the money...
I mentioned how much I was impressed by the Fredericksburg Brass Institute faculty. I mentioned that we were hoping to work together in the future. Now, I can say with extreme excitement that there are some projects underway that will be seriously cool.
More coming soon, but I've been composing like a maniac on steroids for the last week. The result? Some great music that I can't wait to share.
Now, to brace myself for sophmore year...