If you've been following my two blog series on Four Ethereal Planes and Summertime Echoes, then you probably already know how busy this year has been for me. But, all of it has been so good and so wonderful, every step of the way. The most rewarding aspect of every single note of music I've written this year has been the fruitful and artistically engaging collaborative processes I've shared with the artists that I'm working with. This year is no exception, with still more to come.
Four Ethereal Planes received its world premiere last October in Holland, Michigan as part of a collaborative concert between the Millennium Composers Initiative and the Holland Concert Jazz Orchestra. The program also featured new works by three additional fantastic composers and colleagues - Kevin Day, Chris Evan Hass, and Janay Maisano (HCJO was also co-founded by another MCI composer - Dr. Jordan VanHemert, Assistant Professor of Saxophone and Jazz Studies at Hope College).
The concert was fantastic in all regards. The representation of up-and-coming composers on the program was extraordinary, and all of the music from my colleagues on the program was wonderful (seriously, go check these artists out). HCJO brought their absolute best that night for every piece on the program, including for my suite (which I also was given the opportunity to conduct - my first-ever professional experience conducting a major ensemble. Thank you Jordan for this incredible opportunity as well!!!).
It's been just about five or six months since I graduated from New York University with my Master's Degree in Music Composition (with a focus in Screen Scoring). Since then, much of my time has gone towards planning. Lots and lots of planning:
-Organizing and planning many different events (some of which are upcoming) in my role as president of the Millennium Composers Initiative, which has expanded to 37 composers from all around the world as of this year [check out the link above to learn more about each of our members, and consider programming some of their music!]
-Planning a big move with my wife and two cats [we intend not to stay in New York City as of this year]
-Picking up, and constantly searching for, additional part-time work that has helped me to continue to grow and develop the skills that I've learned from college
-Somehow attempting to have a social life in the middle of all of this
Some weeks have been very good. Some weeks, not so much. That's not to say all of it has been bad because that's simply untrue. But with all of this planning and organizing, among continuing to learn how to adjust to a professional working life beyond my time as an academic student, it feels like I've had both a large amount of time to compose and yet little to no time at all! This was more apparent at the very beginning of the year, though, as I've begun to find my way back towards a regular routine more often.
Recently, I've been thinking about how two of my recent (and most supported) works for band relate to my Michigan roots - “The Straits of Mackinac” relating to the Mackinac area and “The Great River Rapid Chase” being more inspired by Michigan landscapes conceptually, in a sense. The more I’ve thought about this lately, the more I realized I had one more idea about Michigan I needed to write about.
When I was growing up, my family and I would sometimes travel to Grand Haven. I remember how the lighthouse and pier located here captivated me the first time I saw it [including it being the first time I had ever seen a lighthouse in person]. Lighthouses, of course, provide signals for sailors to aid their journey back home to the mainland. The overall experiences of traveling there brings back warm memories and represents to me some of the best qualities of family and home together.
So “The Golden Pier” is inspired by the Grand Haven lighthouse [and its beaches] at sunset. It will be a slow and lyrical Grade 3 piece for concert band with several dramatic moments, at approximately 3-6 minutes long. This will complete a “Michigan Triptych” that bridges the fast-paced action of “The Great River Rapid Chase” and the adventurous nature of “The Straits of Mackinac.” I plan to have the piece finished by June. And I’m offering it for free.
That’s right. No consortium buy-in. No commission fee. As a way of expressing my thanks to all of you who have supported my music over the past several years, I am creating a free PDF GIVEAWAY for the full set (score and parts) for anyone interested in performing this new piece, open for the entire month of March. Fill out the form provided below to join. If you also know anyone who might be interested in this, please share this post with your friends and colleagues and let them know!
Contact me if you have questions about “The Golden Pier.” Once again, thank you so much for all of your support! I'm very excited to begin working on this new piece.
I tried to go about posting day-by-day on my experiences with The Midwest Clinic this year, but with so much going on, it seemed better to do a bigger recap at the end of the week.
First off, I have to say my heart is so full right now. So many fantastic concerts, clinics, booths, and more happened at the conference this week. It was both an honor and a thrill to be a part of it all, to be able to meet and reconnect with so many people at the conference. I can say with absolute certainty it's changed my thinking as a composer and musician, and it's certainly opened me up to many things to think about.
Not only was this my first time at The Midwest Clinic this year, but I also had the opportunity to EXHIBIT new music with six other composers of the Millennium Composers Initiative. This also meant I met a number of these people in person for the first time as well (the majority of this composer collective had been formed online as its members are based around the world), specifically because of this conference. Again - what a huge honor. And what a wonderful week.
I previously posted about my first day at the conference, so I'll do my best to recap my experiences for the other days during The Midwest Clinic.
This week, I'm in Chicago with hundreds of others attending this year's Midwest Clinic conference in Chicago. This is my first time ever attending this prestigious conference, and I'm thrilled to not only be here for it this year, but to also have the opportunity to exhibit with six other composers in the Millennium Composers Initiative, a new collective that started this year.
My first day was to get registered for the conference and set up the exhibition booth for MCI with my good pal Duncan Petersen-Jones. He's finishing up his Master's degree at the University of Michigan this year and is also a REALLY good bagpiper. McCormick Place (the venue for Midwest) is unbelievably gorgeous. There's a reason this conference has been hosted here for so long.
Today, I've had a chance to meet four of the seven composers (including myself) whom attendees will get to meet over the next few days at the conference. One of them, Harrison J. Collins, will be having his piece "O rose of May" premiered at the Stoneman Douglas HS Wind Symphony on Thursday (his piece was part of the same consortium I was involved in this year that included "The Great River Rapid Chase"). The other two I met were Kevin Day and Quinn Mason, whom I'm collaborating with on our new consortium we just opened up.
It's been a LONG time since I've been to Chicago - last time was many years ago when I was a kid - and I've completely forgotten how gorgeous this city is. And nothing beats a good deep-dish pizza right at the heart of it all.
I'm so excited to meet all of the attendees this year at Midwest! I'm excited to share more about MCI and what we do as a new initiative. And, I'm excited to see everything happening over the next few days at this conference.
If you're reading this and are attending Midwest Clinic this year, I'll be at Booth #1927. Be sure to stop by and check it out!!
Next week is the annual Midwest Clinic International Band and Orchestra Conference in Chicago!! It's my first time going to this major conference and, needless to say, I'm so excited to be able to have the opportunity to meet new people, reconnect with old friends and colleagues, and exhibit a portion of my catalog at the Millennium Composers Initiative with some of the group's other members.
Attendees going to the conference this year - you can find me at these events in the schedule below (note that non-exhibition events are subject to change depending on various circumstances). At the very least, come meet me and my colleagues at Booth #1927 to learn more about the initiative! You can also follow the hashtags #mciatmidwest2018 and #mciatmidwestclinic2018 for all of MCI's updates next week.
I'm hoping to document most of my experiences at Midwest next week, so be on the lookout for new blog posts coming soon!
The _____ Experiment is a Michigan-based chamber trio that I've worked with for some time now. Ever since their professional debut around a year ago, the forefront of their goals concentrated on commissioning composers to write new works for their unique instrumentation - clarinet, saxophone, and harp. While duets exist for the combinations of this group, not many trios do. The culmination of these efforts over the past year can be best summed up in their biggest project to date - an upcoming debut album highlighting works written by some of the composers they've collaborated with.
I've been fortunate to have contributed three new pieces to The _____ Experiment's fast-growing repertoire. When they approached me about including these works in their album project, I was just as equally thrilled as the day we first began to collaborate. Although I had previously mixed an EP of entirely electronic music with a recording engineer a few years ago, this was truly my first-ever professional recording experience with live musicians [not including the recording sessions I've had with professional musicians in an academic setting at New York University]. Hence, during one weekend in August, I returned back to Michigan for two intense, but rewarding, days of recording the three pieces I've written for The _____ Experiment - INFERNO 7.0, Conversations, and Antikythera.
What has this composer done over the summer? The better question is, WHAT HAVEN'T I DONE?! Well... I haven't crashed from burnout and exhaustion, surprisingly. I haven't written my dreamlike prog-rock-influenced fanfare for wind ensemble yet [although if that's your thing, contact me and let's make it happen]. Contrastingly, I managed to somehow have an excellent vacation earlier this month with my wife. Lots of beach and sunshine.
There was also seafood. Lots. And LOTS. OF SEAFOOD.
Apart from that, lots of composing and other related projects also getting done too! So, in no particular order, here's a list of things that I've been doing this summer:
It's been a very hectic summer so far in terms of all the work I still have yet to complete. A much longer blog post will be coming in the future about some of the projects I've been working on, but in the meantime, here's a brand-new look at one of the new pieces I've written this year.
It's been a while since I've participated in this one, but I've decided to enter this year's Dallas Winds Brass Fanfare competition! This piece offers a fun and joyous tribute to the thrills of seeking adventure in familiar and/or unknown places. The title is specifically meant to be a direct reference to a quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet (and yes... technically.... to a Star Trek film. Though this wasn't intentionally done on purpose or anything).
Check out a video of the score below, and if you like what you hear, purchase information will be coming soon!
The next blog post will feature some background work on a second piece I'm composing this year - a wild and raucous work for saxophone quartet and fixed-media electronics, to be premiered by the Zenith Saxophone Quartet this fall. Stay tuned!