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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Summer ahoy! Recordings aplenty!

In a week, school will be out, and it will be time for me to begin sifting through my summer workload. My to-do list for the next few months consists of a pile of relatively minor administrative things like answering calls for scores, all overshadowed by one mighty task and two not-quite-so-mighty-but-formidable-nonetheless tasks, namely: finish composing Ayn, complete some sort of article for my dissertation, and redesign this website. Yes, it's time for a revamp! This site has looked more or less the same for about six years, and it feels stale to me, although apparently some people still rather like it. Websites are like hair; you have to change them up or you get bored. Well, I do, anyway.

One of the things I must include on the new website, front and center, is subscription information about the mailing list I finally started, after years of procrastination. Here's the Mailchimp page for it, from where you can read previous newsletters and subscribe—I should arrange for the newsletter to auto-publish to this blog as well, I suppose. I generally dislike the concept of newsletters, but there's no denying they are effective at getting word out, as Matt can confirm via the very successful click-through and sales stats on the mailing lists of e-commerce sites he administers.

Here is some news from my last newsletter, goody:
  • Here's a big one that you probably weren't expecting because it was super-secret news up till now: I can officially announce that I have been selected as the 2013/14 composer for the Choral Arts Laboratory held by the award-winning choir Volti in San Francisco. Yay! They'll be flying me out in October to workshop a new commission in progress, which they will premiere next Spring. This is a huge honor, and a rare opportunity to write something truly adventurous for a choral group with mad skills. Trust me, composers don't get chances like this very often. 
And more goodness:
  • A couple of years ago, the super-fun and eclectic new music collective Anti-Social Music premiered a piece I wrote called Handshake that was rejected by a, shall we say, less adventurous ensemble who thought it wasn't Serious enough for them. As in, they wouldn't even read it. Seriously, ASM did a smashing job, and the piece remains one of my favorite of my own compositions, despite the fact that Very Serious Music People are sometimes left scratching their heads. Anyway, earlier this year I wrote a piece for solo violin and "tape" (I don't know why we still call it tape. I don't even remember the last time I even saw a tape.) that falls into the same rough attitudinal category, and ASM will be premiering that on May 9 in Brooklyn. It's called Theme and Variables: Scallops and Bollocks for Tea, and the "tape" portion was made with Nintendo Entertainment System VST instruments and a recreated sample of the first ever computer-generated music: a snippet of the Colonel Bogey March performed by an Australian computer known as CSIRAC. It is Fun.
My next blog entry and newsletter is bound to be all about recordings. Hopefully by the end of the week, I'll have a video from Monday's terrific performance of Tesla's Pigeon in New York. (Jess had to wipe away tears at the end of her performance, which made me realize I was feeling quite verklempt myself. This only reinforces my belief that the true underlying goal of every composer should be tears.)

Also, very soon we should be able to upload a recording of Scallops and Bollocks for Tea (see above) from Tuesday night: Network for New Music (god, we are so lucky to have such a great organization in Philly) arranged for Paul Arnold from the Philadelphia Orchestra to record it, with the incomparable Eugene Lew from Penn providing his recording services. Despite being magnificently talented and in-demand, the two of them astonished me with their generosity; they actually volunteered extra time to get the piece just right. And they're two of the nicest people I think I know. I really can't speak highly enough of them. Here's a quick shot of the recording session from Matt's iPhone:

Paul Arnold plays Scallops and Bollocks for Tea


Oh, also:
  • Tesla's Pigeon is being recorded by Jess and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra next week*
  • I had a choir piece I finished last year recorded recently by Matt Curtis at ChoralTracks (who incidentally was in Chanticleer when they sang What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach?) and I will put that up pretty soon
  • The same piece is quite probably being performed/recorded by another choir in June
  • Omaha Beach is being recorded by a major choir for a CD release
Recordings everywhere!

But I can't celebrate for too long. I have a goddamn opera to finish AYNAYNAYNAYNAYNAYN (This works fairly well as an ululation of anguish, actually.)

*Incidentally, I have completely run out of  Tesla's Pigeon CD's thanks to the recent wildly successful Tesla's Pigeon Takes Manhattan Kickstarter. As in, I do not even have an archival copy to keep for myself. Good thing this recording gives me a good excuse to reissue with both versions, piano-vocal and orchestral.
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