Aqua Vitae, for percussion quartet
SFA Percussion Ensemble
Stephen F Austin University
The Initiation (premiere)
Georgetown Waterfront Park
Where the sidewalk ends... (premiere)
Nikita Fitenko, piano
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Category Archives: Orchestra
Next week I’ll be gearing up for a recording session with Inscape Chamber Orchestra. They’ll be recording What I decided to keep, in a new arrangement specifically for them. You can check out the original version here, premiered by David Searle and the Catholic University Chamber Orchestra last year.
I’ve also just posted recordings of two performances from the past few months: take a listen to Her Exit, written for and performed by DC’s Great Noise Ensemble, here, and Bounce, in a new arrangement for large wind ensemble, performed here by David Vickerman and the wind ensemble from the College of New Jersey.
Go here to check out the Spektral Quartet tearing through Passage Through the City, premiered this past summer out in Chicago at The Hideout. It was absolutely amazing working with these guys: I love the energy they brought to my piece, and I’m looking forward to hearing it again this season in DC.
On November 8th, Bounce will be premiered in its new incarnation as a piece for large wind ensemble. David Vickerman and the winds from The College of New Jersey are going to rock: the program is quite an ambitious foray into newer repertoire for winds (Schwanter’s In Evening’s Stillness and Mackey’s Asphalt Cocktail are also on the program!). Have a listen to some excerpts from the original orchestra version of Bounce here. I’ll be visiting the TCNJ campus the week before to work with the group in rehearsal, and to be a guest on the College’s brown bag series to talk about the process of converting orchestra to wind ensemble.
Happy Thanksgiving! Click here to check out a live recording of David Searle and the CUA chamber orchestra playing What I Decided to Keep, my new piece for chamber orchestra.
In addition to being very pleased with the performance, I was especially proud of my employers on Nov. 7th: what was suposed to be an alumni fundraising event at Carnegie Hall was, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, quickly turned into a hurricane relief benefit concert down in DC. In the true charitable spirit of CUA, the concert hall was packed.
Coming to New Haven meant moving…which of course also meant packing up an apartment that my wife and I lived in for several years. Anyone who has moved as an adult has surely had the archeological experience of unearthing several incarnations of their life when packing. While still embracing my packrat tendencies and filling many boxes with stuff (and parting with 0 musical instruments), I am proud to report that many things were purged (ok, some of the broken Casio keyboards). And then there’s the consideration of mental baggage that one accumulates from living in various places: to compound this, I’m coming back to a school where I did my masters ca. 10 years ago.
All of this brings me to the piece that I gave most of my attention to over the summer: what I decided to keep, composed for David Searle and the Catholic University Orchestra. They’ll be premiering the piece at Carnegie Hall on 11/7. The piece is actually scored for something more like a chamber orchestra: smaller sections of violins and cellos, along with 2 double basses, are augmented with single winds and brass, and a piano. Within the strings, I wanted to have a thicker section sound, but also the ability to treat each player like a soloist (I also wanted to exclude the violas. Insert your favorite viola joke here).
As a composer with one foot in academia, I work at a far less frantic pace during the summer: with my teaching obligations in mothballs until September, I’ve got so much more time to consider compositional issues that I just don’t have the mental space to hang out with for the other 9 months. In addition to considering my output while a resident of DC for the past four years, I also found myself reflecting back on my time at Yale: specifically, the year I studied with Martin Bresnick. At the time, I had one of my most formidable cases of writers block. I had such little music to show in my lessons, that Martin and I may have in fact spent more time talking about other people’s music. Remembering those lessons, I came back to one composer and piece in particular: Béla Bartók’s 5th string quartet. what i decided to keep owes a great debt to this piece, in its linear succesion of events, and use of certain musical materials.
Truth be told, very little is a direct quote from ol’ Béla, but I’d like to think he and I share a similar affinity for musics not typically heard in a concert hall (in my case, funk and prog rock). The piece itself is dedicated with admiration and affection to Martin, who was consistently patient with my compositional hesitance that year. As I reflect back on my four years so far at Catholic University, I can also see that many of the ways I try to create a positive environment for my own students owes much to Martin’s example.
My new work orchestral work Bounce was recently selected for the Earshot and Buffalo Philharmonic New Music Readings, and for the Albany Symphony’s Composer to Center Stage program.
As part of Buffalo’s February New Music Festival, Bounce will be read on the Emerging American Composers in Concert event on Thursday, February 23rd at 7pm, conducted by Matthew Kraemer. This is a free concert open to the public, with a Q&A session on stage afterwards. More info here.
The performance of Bounce on Albany’s Composer to Center Stage program is part of their American Music Festival, which will take place this coming May. More info here.