Sunday, March 10, 2013

Eat, Compose, Love

Bless me, Blogger, for I have sinned. It has been two months since my last entry.

Right this instant I am exhausted.

At long last, for about a month now, I have had only one project on my plate: Ayn. I have been on this earth for nearly 33 years, and this singularity of purpose is unprecedented. But for some stupid reason, I feel more tired for it. Perhaps, with less noise, I am able to feel the accumulated weariness for the first time. In any case, I'm making progress on the opera — slow progress, but progress nevertheless — but when the notes come out sounding like garbage because my brain has run out of juice for the day, I find myself totally confused and lost by the lack of other items on my to-do list. I pace around mindlessly like a broken Roomba. I don't think I've ever dealt with feeling like this before. It's an experiment.

A couple of old projects have managed to demand my attention recently, however. The most notable news is that Tesla's Pigeon will be performed in New York City next month, thanks to this wildly successful ongoing kickstarter campaign I launched ten days ago:

It's a little overwhelming to receive so much support from friends near and far — and even a few total strangers. And since the campaign also introduces my current project publicly, the pressure is on for Ayn. I have expectations to fulfill, theirs and mine.

Meanwhile, the Tesla's Pigeon concert will be at 7:30PM on April 22 at Christ & Saint Stephens Church. I'll post more about it closer to the date.

Then, exactly a week later, Jess and the Curtis Symphony will record my orchestration of Tesla's Pigeon, which I was feverishly arranging when I wrote my last blog entry. I'm pretty excited to hear it played, even if it does create some non-Ayn noise in my head. I spent rather too much time in January learning how to bind books so I could make a hardcover score, which kicks some serious arse over the spiral binding that is the standard:

Matt (with the flu) opens my very first hardcover bound score - Tesla's Pigeon for soprano and orchestra

^^ These are also available as a reward on the Kickstarter campaign.

This afternoon, the Kennett Symphony Orchestra and Children's Chorus will give the second of two children's concerts featuring my brand spanking new revision of Jack and the Beanstalk at my alma mater West Chester University; last summer, I tore into the first edition, ripped out and abridged some movements, interpolated some new songs (including the most ridiculously catchy number I've ever written in my life, "These Beans"), added some lyrics to existing instrumental melodies, and rearranged the whole thing for chamber orchestra. It's shorter, but I think it's way better. Judging from the post-performance reactions last week, the kids seem to enjoy it, which is about the best compliment a composer can get; kids that young are unabashedly honest, and they're difficult to fool. Of course, everyone is nuts over "These Beans," but unfortunately, I can't let you hear a recording because of the stipulations of the Musician's Union. I might have some choice words on that matter in a later post.

Captain Samuels Speaks to the Sea! made its UK debut in February at the Two Rivers Festival, the first time any piece of mine has been performed over the pond as far as I know. I am surprisingly proud of that piece. I started listening to it the other day and found myself quite liking it, and I played it all the way through, good heavens. I know that sounds a bit batty, but I don't do much playback of my finished pieces because I start to pick at them and want to change them, and I'd rather write new stuff.

On a non-musical note, last month Matt and I got the results of our DNA test from 23andMe. If you have $99 to spare, I highly recommend it; fascinating stuff, especially for someone like me descended from immigrants who tend to leave the past behind and have no interest in genealogy. As far as recent ethnic background is concerned, I didn't find out anything I didn't already know: my mother is a Chinese as they come, and my father is as Greek as they come. The only surprise was 2% Italian heritage on my father's side, which really isn't all that surprising at all. Of more interest is the data from further back: I have 3.1% Neanderthal DNA, which puts me in the 98th percentile. I thought this was pretty badass until Matt looked at his DNA profile: he has 3.2% Neanderthal DNA, placing him in the 99th percentile. That's about as close as we come to being related.