It has been over a year since I’ve blogged on here. I’ve never been much of a blogger, but I’m going to try to post more often as things happen. I’m powering through my dissertation – my first draft is nearly completed, finally. I also still have to hold my doctoral recital and compose a significant work for my dissertation, so the end is nearing but there is still a way to go. I am definitely trying to graduate this year.
This update is a few months late, but I had a fantastic performance of my string quartet in April. Eavesdroppers was composed for the Boston String Quartet and performed at University of Florida on April 18, where they gave a wild and hilarious performance. I was really unsure of how this work would be received, and it definitely needs a charismatic ensemble. But, BSQ nailed it and completely outdid themselves. I hope that you enjoy this performance as much as I enjoyed working with these performers.
The biggest news since my last update on this site is that I have been employed by Santa Fe College in Gainesville, FL. I am an adjunct professor and am teaching applied percussion lessons and music appreciation. So far, it has kept me incredibly busy, especially while finishing my last year of course work for my PhD. But it is a very rewarding experience. I especially enjoy teaching the appreciation class because it gives me an outlet to interact with students that have not spend their whole lives studying music. I enjoy the opportunity to challenge their musical limits and give them a glimpse into contemporary classical music, among other things.
I also recently finished a short piece that I have been working on for a long time, called Bought and Sold. I started composing this work last January, and my progress on it was interrupted by two approaching deadlines. I have finally been able to come back to the work and finish it. I wrote it as an exploration of how context affects the reception of a work of music, especially a work that already contains baggage and significance. This piece is really pointing towards my dissertation topic, which is exploring the accumulation of meaning in works of music. Bought and Sold was premiered at University of Florida’s biannual UnBalanced Connection #56, on October 16. Go ahead and check it out here. Apologies in advance to any lovers of Steve Reich’s work. not really.
I just attended the inaugural year of the SPLICE Institute at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI on July 5-11, 2015. It was an incredibly intense and busy week of classes, lessons, presentations, concerts, and nights out with deeply knowledgeable faculty and students. The faculty composers at SPLICE are Christopher Biggs, Keith Kirchoff, Adam Vidiksis, Elainie Lillios, Sam Wells, Per Bloland, Richard Johnson. David Wetzel was on the faculty as well, as a performer. The food was awful cafeteria food, the dorm rooms were terrible and hot, with no a/c, but the environment was friendly, intimate, and productive.
Each day of the festival was structured the same way: breakfast, 2 classes for 1-hour-15-mins, lunch, more classes and rehearsals between composers and performers, dinner, pre-concert presentation from one of the faculty members, and a concert. Monday through Thursday were solo recitals by Keith Kirchoff, David Wetzel, Sam Wells, and Adam Vidiksis, and Friday was a chamber concert. They performed works written by themselves, each other, the faculty composers, and other repertoire that they had ready. All of these concerts were well-prepared and amazingly performed. Some of these pieces and performances changed the way that I think about the presentation of electronic music, especially works that combine music with video and other multimedia.
The concerts featuring student works were all on Saturday, June 11. Three concerts of about 8 pieces each. I collaborated with David Wetzel for SPLICE and wrote a work for clarinet and electronics called “Staying Ahead of the Game,” which David performed beautifully on the final concerts. Every other piece on the festival was captivating. Works were performed by both student and faculty performers from the festival. My colleagues are ridiculously creative and I am honored to be part of such a bright and innovative generation.
As part of participating in SPLICE, I received a scholarship that involved being a part of the sound tech crew, and my responsibilities included running live sound for the performances. But more often then not, we would meet briefly in the afternoon, see that the performer was largely self-contained or that the setup was prepared before lunch, and we were dismissed shortly. But sometimes, there were lessons on how to use the digital mixing board, how to place speakers, differences between speakers, and other discussions about live sound.
I learned more in this week than I can process, but there’s still time (isn’t there?). I took classes in MAX/MSP, effects processing with Logic, private and group lessons with Elainie Lillios, Per Bloland, and Christopher Biggs, and participated in 8 concerts. There were other classes that I could not participate in because of schedule conflicts. For an inaugural year, this festival did a lot of things right and can keep improving for future participants. It was a ridiculous amount of work, but we made it happen because of our dedication and passion for our craft. I highly recommend the SPLICE Institute to any performers or composers with an interest in electronics or technology.
I composed Profiles in Online Dating for New Music on the Point 2015. It is the first work that I’ve ever composed for voice. I’ve written songs and such growing up, but never an art song. And personally, I had no interest in writing one; I think I was mostly anxious about how to set text. But when I got accepted to NMOP, they told me to write for soprano, Alexandra Porter.
I ultimately decided to write my own text. And since I love making social commentary when I can, I figured voice was a good medium for being very direct with my intentions. So I chose to write about something that I have experience with myself: online dating.
I wrote the songs thinking about how people present themselves online. Some of the songs are semi-autobiographical, in that I relate strongly to them. Other songs are inspired by reading other people’s profiles or reading about experiences on online forums about dating.
I plan on composing more songs for this set. There is definitely more material to work with. You can find more info about the set here. A video of the premier is below.