Well, I’m currently home for a brief time before heading out again, this time to a much warmer climate (Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Smyrna Beach, FL). The last two weeks, as some of you may know, were spent on the shores of lovely Lake Dunmore in Leicester, VT, where I was a composition fellow at New Music on the Point. Now, I’ve attended conferences like this before, and they all have their pluses and minuses, but I can say without a doubt that this one is by far my favorite. I was in the midst of a tremendously talented and wonderful group of peers, and we all seemed to click right away, which always makes for a pleasant environment.
Speaking of environment, I’m not sure we could have asked for a better one! The lake was pristine, the weather (for the most part) divine, and the hiking was fantastic. If we could have gotten rid of a few more mosquitoes, I’d say it would have been perfect. But that’s what DEET is for, I guess. Still, the setting was idyllic.
Of course, we weren’t just there to sit around on the beach (though we did do a lot of that). Luckily, we were fortunate enough to have a plethora of talented professionals working with us, including faculty composers Kathryn Alexander and Laura Schwendinger; guest composers Robert Morris, Michael Klingbeil, and Paul Chihara; faculty performers Jennifer Beattie (mezzo), Donna Loewy (piano), and the incomparable JACK Quartet; and guest performer Paul Sperry (tenor). And these guys weren’t just in and out for rehearsals. They lived on campus, ate with us, hiked with us, kayaked with us, beached and swam with us, talked around campfires with us, and of course, made great music! It’s always refreshing to meet such a warm, truly invested, down-to-earth group of people.
This description, of course, applied to the fellows themselves as well. The composers, string players, and vocalists were all extremely talented, flexible, and open to both giving and receiving advice/ feedback, which made for a wonderful exchange of ideas, and created a feeling of true collaboration. I was especially grateful to get to work with Tara Khozein (soprano) and Edo Frenkel (composer/ pianist) on the premiere of my new song, I Felt a Funeral, based on text by Emily Dickinson, and with Ari Streisfeld (violinist of the JACK Quartet) and Justin Lepard (cellist) on the premiere of my string duo, Cycles. I’m honored to say I’ve made a group of lifelong friends, and I’d jump at the chance to work with any of them again!
All in all, NMOP is a true gem in a sea of not-always-so-wonderful summer programs. They have something truly special happening, and I look forward to seeing it grow. Kudos to all involved!