Tag Archives: new music on the point

‘Cycles’ for violin and violoncello

At long last, I received the recording of Cycles, for violin and cello, written for and premiered as part of New Music on the Point in VT earlier this summer (for more info on NMOP, read my previous blog entry). I was particularly anticipating the arrival of this recording, because – at least at the time – I thought it was a fun piece to write, and hopefully to listen to. It’s different than things I’ve written previously, and I pretty deliberately let myself be “encouraged”, or “inspired”, or maybe “directed by” the influence of Ravel, Stravinsky, and Bartok (among lots of others). Not that it’s exactly “imitative”, but you can definitely feel their aura in the room. Although if you told me it sounds like any one of these composers, I’d take it as a compliment!

So in any event, I thought it would be a cool piece, and in rehearsals, I thought it sounded cool, and in the performance I think I thought it sounded cool, though I’m usually a wreck for premieres, so I don’t remember much. Anyways, with the arrival of the recording, I could at last sit down and hear once and for all whether or not it did indeed “sound cool”. Turns out it did. At least that’s my opinion. But if you disagree, I can always say we have “aesthetic differences of opinion” or something else smart-sounding. I am almost a doctor, you know.

But don’t just take my word for it. Or do, especially if yours is different. Here’s the live recording from the premiere at the University of Vermont on June 16th, performed by the incomparable Ari Streisfeld (of the JACK Quartet) on violin, and Justin “Look-out-for-this-guy-because-he’s-only-a-freshman-and-he-already-kicks-ass” Lepard on cello. Enjoy!


NMOP 2012

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!

The Semester of Marathon Composing Comes to an End

At long last, the semester comes to a close. The final total comes to five new pieces, and right at an hour of music written since January! If I weren’t a student of Davy Rakowski, I might be tempted to find that impressive. Always nice to have guys like him around to keep me humble.

The latest completions came this past week: I Felt a Funeral for medium-high voice and piano (based on the poem by Emily Dickinson), and Cycles for violin and cello – both written for New Music on the Point in Leicester, VT, where they will be premiered this summer. Amazingly, these were both written in the last 3 1/2 weeks! And right now I even think I like them. Hopefully that will last…

Of course, as always, endings bring new beginnings. I’ve been commissioned to write a work for chamber wind ensemble by my Alma Mater, East Carolina University! The premiere will take place during the 2013 NewMusic@ECU Festival in Greenville, NC. My name’s even on the website! Right there alongside Augusta Reed Thomas…now that’s a crazy feeling. It’s like I’m a real composer or something…

Fortunately, I’ll have some time to get started this summer. I’ve been accepted as an Associate Artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, FL, with Master Artist (and my past teacher) Melinda Wagner! 3 weeks in Florida in the middle of the summer, so obviously I’ll be staying inside in the A/C to write. I’ll also be hanging out with fellow Brandesians Peter Van Zandt Lane and Seunghee Lee, and fellow NEC grad Liza White. Looks like Boston’s heading south!

But for now, I’m taking a little break. After I grade papers. And submit grades. Then I’ll take a break.

New Music on the Point

I was very excited (and now anxious) to learn of my acceptance into the New Music On the Point summer composers workshop! Excited because I’ll get to compose two works for some excellent performers (including the JACK Quartet). Anxious because, well, I now have to write two works for these excellent performers in the next month!! At least I know what I’ll be doing with my time…

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