Friday, April 27, 2012

Crossroads Fair Chamber Concert

We're getting all set for the chamber concert next Friday. It'll be May 4th at 7:30 PM at University Park United Methodist Church in the chapel. There'll be another concert in the sanctuary, so make sure you go to the one in the chapel.

The Crysalus Duet will be premiering my new Elemental Suite for two flutes. You can see a performance of the first movement on YouTube here. The Papilio Quintet will be playing two recently composed pieces by Alex Daniels and Chistoph Rolfes. We'll also have Trio Impromptu... impromptu because they're usually a string quartet, but one of their violinists is busy that night. And last but certainly not least, we'll have the Lamont Saxophone Quartet. If you've never heard a saxophone quartet before, start looking for some, because it's a pretty fantastic sound, especially when it's a quartet composed of fantastic Lamont sax players.

So, if you can make it, go. It'll be a fantastic concert with some amazing musicians.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Chamber Concert Coming Up

Coming up in May, we'll be having a chamber concert with the Lamont pierrot ensemble, my flute duet, and some brass groups. We'll be premiering a few of my works, including my new Elemental Suite for flute duet (you may remember my post about October Aubade, which is the first of four movements).

Danielle Park, Drew Rackow, and Skylar Anderson will also be premiering my piece, Crossroads Fair for tenor trombone, bass trombone, and piano, and Drew Rackow will be premiering some works including a piece for soprano and piano.

Stay tuned for more details!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Figaro's Getting Married

In the Lamont Symphony, we’ve been preparing tirelessly for the fall opera, The Marriage of Figaro. We had our first rehearsals with the vocalists last week, and they’ve been fantastic. Watch out for Benjamin Wood. He’ll be shaking the rafters as Figaro on the Thursday and Saturday night performances, which are drawing scarily close.

I feel like we just started rehearsing yesterday, and the opera opens next Thursday night. Maybe that’s just because it’s my first quarter in the symphony. I’ve played at the Sydney Opera House and been to Oxford to play for the best flautists in the world, yet I still get nervous every time I start with a new ensemble. Anyway, if you’re in town and want to see the opera, you can get tickets here.

Meanwhile, back at the recording studio, I’ve started working on my new CD. It’ll be a mix of three songs I wrote in an acoustic alternative style for guitar and piano and lots of singing with four flute duets I wrote, a piece I wrote for tenor trombone, bass trombone, and piano, and I think I’m going to cheat and throw in a song I recorded last summer. It’s an arrangement of the Australian song Waltzing Matilda for two flutes and guitar in a Celtic style. And if that’s not multicultural enough for you, I promise I’ll wear a cowboy hat and a dashiki over my lederhosen while I’m recording it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Daughter of the Light

It seems like I'm getting into a trend of writing one large work every year, then doing some smaller ones on the side. Last year, my large work was my flute choir suite, Daughter of the Light. In all, the piece took me almost a year to write. I especially struggled with the second movement, Muir Mhanainn Waltz, but as it often is with composing, the movement I struggled most with is also the one I like best. The piece was heavily influenced by Irish folk music. In fact, in an effort to emulate the music, I forced myself to only listen to Irish folk for an entire week when I started the first movement. It was my version of immersing myself in the music, since I don't have the means to actually visit Ireland in person.

The piece is dedicated to my fantastic girlfriend, Danielle Park. I began writing it before we started dating, but she inspired every bit of it. The piece is intended to be a combination of what our story has been and what I hope it will be. Although we've known each other for a few years, we didn't start dating until she came to Denver. So, the second movement is an allegory for our own love story; the Daughter of the Light leaves her home in the country (Danielle is from Woodland Park) and goes to the big city, finds a pauper boy who happens to play a fine bit of whistle if I do say so myself, they fall in love, and the rest is what I hope will happen some day.

On another note, the movements portray parts of nature as well as parts of Danielle's personality. In a sense, the first movement is about the autumn leaves fluttering around on the wind, but that concept represents Danielle's impulsive side. She often acts like that, which I've always loved because I'm the same way. The second movement is about the ocean, but also about her calm side. I've always thought of the constancy of the waves in the ocean as something very soothing and assuring, and Danielle has the same effect on me a lot of the time. Lastly, Áine's Reel is her confident side. In the poems, the Daughter of the Light finds this wonderful life and enjoys living it, and that's something Danielle has always been good at. In particular the inspiration for the third movement came from a very particular image in my mind when Danielle and I were sitting on a bus outside of Sydney. The bright, golden, Australian sun was streaming through the window, and she was in the midst of it with this really confident, satisfied, content sort of smile on her face. So, I took that image and found a concept which represented it well. Áine was a perfect candidate as an Irish goddess of love, summer, and wealth who is often associated with the sun.

I had always wanted the piece to be programatic, but I've never been good at writing out stories in prose, so I wrote poems for the program notes instead. Then, that evolved into a slide show of the poems in front of pictures I've taken around the world, which can be found here. For the world premier, the slide show was projected during the concert, and I hope to do that for performances of the piece whenever possible.

It's been a long process getting this piece done, and I'll admit there were many times when I really felt like just giving up on it and throwing it out, but now that I've heard it performed, I'm glad I didn't. I really enjoyed writing it and performing it, and I hope everyone out there enjoys listening to it.

Daughter of the Light- III. Àine's Reel

This is the third movement of my flute choir piece, Daughter of the Light. The movement was inspired by the Irish goddess, Àine, goddess of wealth and summer. Of course it was also inspired my girlfriend, Danielle, and on another level, it was inspired by the sun and summer.

Àine's Reel

Decades past and I went out
Into the hills I’d dreamt about
I spent my days in fruitful ways
On melodies I loved to play

And in the dusk I took my mare
And rode into the mountain air
By brooks and streams and fallen trees
That garnished my felicity

I loved my pauper most of all
And spent my nights with him enthralled
With me as I was still with him
For love’s a light that never dims

And in my dreams I saw the place
Where I awoke and saw his face
And was reminded of the tune
He played that rainy afternoon

When I had found the love I’d kept
For so long hidden and untapped
Like wine in barrels aged for years
I held it for my cavalier

And still we danced to lilting songs
That kept our cheerful spirits strong
And in our lasting reverie
Beneath the shining summer leaves

We danced and played our melodies
That set our hearts and spirits free
To love and be ourselves adored
Until we land on heaven’s shore

Monday, March 12, 2012

Daughter of the Light- II. Muir Mhanainn Waltz

This is the second movement of my suite for flute choir, Daughter of the Light. My elemental inspiration for this movement was the ocean, which I think the poem expresses well, and the title Muir Mhanainn comes from the Scottish Gaelic name for the Irish Sea.

Muir Mhanainn Waltz

Muir Mhanainn Waltz

As years passed by, I heard the sound
Of rolling waves and foaming sea,
I wondered what could yet be found
On far off shores that called to me

I found a ship to take me there
Far across the widening world
To lands with crisp and dulcet air
Off beyond the ocean’s curl

With hands upon the great backstay
Of a vessel set for silver shores
I listened to the lapping waves
And wondered what I waited for

When leagues had passed in our wide wake,
I set my feet on city streets
I could not know what road to take
Or what new trials I would meet

I sank into the bustling sea
Of faces in the shining lights
Yet found the place that was to me
The only one that could be right

And months on, in the budding spring
As I was walking down a lane
I stumbled on a lowly thing
Playing his tunes out in the rain

He whistled what I’d never heard
Yet always seemed to know so well
And though it seemed to me absurd
I was enraptured and compelled

To ask the pauper boy his name
And sit there in the rain a while
Oh, never could I be the same
If I had passed that pauper by.

The years passed by from when we met
And married in a little church,
And worries caused me to forget
The sound of leaves in the silver birch

I could not see the growing light
Or glowing of the shifting sea
When dawn came at the end of night
To set my burdened spirit free

I could not taste the strawberries
Or smell the scent of fallen rain.
Only darkness I could see
And feel my scarring, searing pain.

Below a stormy, thundering sky
I left my home and wandered out
Into the darkness of the night
As deafening rain supplied my doubt

For days I wandered aimlessly
Until I could not wander more,
My legs would not keep holding me
They were too bloody, stiff and sore

I fell into a weary sleep
Out in the boundless, rolling hills
And dreamt that I had fallen deep
Into a misty, blackened dell

I could not see my way back home
Nor did I hear a single voice
And after wandering hours alone
I knew that I was left no choice

I turned my eyes up to the sky
And whispered tired, shaking words
As tears consumed my reddened eyes
And troubling calm was all I heard

A wind blew strong upon my face,
The whelming darkness fell away
I slipped into a different place
Into the dawning of the day

And in the light I heard my name
As it resounded through the trees
For led by some cherubic aim
My love at last had come for me