Howdy. I have found it somewhat difficult to maintain even my already condemnable summer level of output in this place. So it goes; full-time teaching, triplet parenthood, an election season, and attempts to carry on something of a creative inner (and outer) life take their toll, but I've not abandoned this lovely space just yet.
I am also, for the moment, back on facebook for probably the longest stretch of time in over a year. Facebook is a heartless time suck that gives the illusion of bringing people close together, when what it really does is just lower the threshold of "staying in touch" to such a miniscule level that human interaction becomes devoid of most commitment and meaning. But yeah, it's also fun sometimes.
It's particularly fun around election time, I confess - though at this stage the election has me tied up in so many knots of panic I'm feeling the urge to tune OUT all the chatter. I'm not listening to news, and I know that more or less any day I'll blot out facebook again too - return to the softer, warmer world of inner and familial sounds - diminish my public profile, for some productive slice of weeks or months.
Part of the reason I've found it difficult to leave right now is there is sort of lots going on, and I have the illusion that advocating and prosletyzing on facebook for concerts and other events does some good. I'm not sure it's really true - since the signal to noise ratio is so shabby I think just about everything gets scrolled past, but oh well. Just about everyone on there - and I'm absolutely no exception - is saying "look what I've done! Listen to my stuff! Check out my show! Aren't I great!" The sum total is just kinda white noise, but I get that heroin-drip sensation of comfort every time I stick my head back in. What to do? Must reassert discipline, when possible, as soon as possible, I suppose.
Meanwhile, let me rattle of a few instances of come to my show, look what I'm doing, and aren't I great - in the decidedly more intimate confines of my blog-cave.
I received some good news about my opera - which, for those who imagine me tortured in some cave desperately hoping for someone to mount a production (a vision not entirely disconnected from reality), may come as some relief. Fort Worth Opera will feature excerpts of The Summer King, along with seven other operas by composers of quite impressive pedigree, at their inaugural Frontiers program this coming May. It's an opportunity to present the opera to opera folk of various stripes, make some connections, and also hear some more of the piece - all of which fill me with some glee. And it's also a chance to go to Texas during a period we in Maine call "late late winter."
In a few weeks I'll be traveling back to my old stomping ground, NYC, to perform four out of seven of my Jarring Dances for Clarinet(s) and Steel-String Guitar. To date, clarinettist Maria Wagner and I remain the only people who have played these pieces (a situation I hope will change soon) - but at least we've played them a bunch. This our second trip to New York to offer them, and it feels good to be airing them out again. We are older and wiser than we were the last time we performed them, about 1.5 years ago, and I have high hopes for this gig. It also puts me on a program with some old composer friends and opera composers, Randall Eng and Conrad Cummings. The Dances were written over a furiously intense week back in February, 2011 - I set a challenge to myself to write a piece each night for a week. The result, if you can believe it, was not only a piece that I really like a good bit, but also, a transformation in my rate of production. Since that piece, I now write fast (when I can write at all). This is probably the topic for another blog post that's all about me me me in the future, so stay tuned and keep that breath baited.
Also, I just put down the double bar line on a new piece for my Composers Ensemble at the University of Southern Maine. I have been leading this group since I founded it back in 2005, but only this year, 2012, have I succumbed to the great tempation to contribute my own music. Last semester I wrote What Comes After K, and this time - taking advantage of our striking numerical advantage (the group this term is quite literally a chamber orchestra with choir) - I've written an odd little mini electric guitar concerto for chamber orchestra, choir and guitar. It's called Tube Top, and is a flight of fancy - a celebration of the tube amplifier, with texts drawn from the Wikipedia article on Valve Amplifiers and a 1928 New York Times article announcing the invention of the UX215 - a bold new type of tube that heralded great and loud things for the future. The work is about 6.5 minutes long, and something of a feat to put together, what with the blazing guitar runs (performed by my student and bandmate Jimmy Dority), mechanistic choral outbursts, and grooving ensemble work. Next semester, I fear, my schedule won't allow for me to write for Composers Ensemble, which is a shame. Can you imagine the joy it brings me having as part of my job the preperation and performance of my own music? It is a greedy pleasure, made irresistable by the ensemble's late rise from apprenticeship to mastery, and I am grateful for a spot on the program, alongside inspiring and ever-improving works by grad and under-grad student maestros. That shinola hits the fan at Corthell Hall at USM Gorham on December 1, 8pm. (Free show!)
Back in late September, as I mentioned in my last post, pianist Bridget Convey and percussionist Lynn Vartan were in Maine for a terrific residency. There were concerts at Bowdoin College and USM, and a great master class at USM featuring student performers and composers. I have rarely been so delighted at a premiere performance of one of my own works - and I am hoping to be able to share video proof of the awesomeness soon. Check this very spot.
The rock band, Lovers of Fiction, has been a little bit on the back burner as its various members juggle ridiculous quantities of Things to Do, but we are hoping to make a small joyful noise before 2012 expires (I - having a pretty great New Year's song in my back pocket, know just the date for us, actually...)
And next up for me seems to be a 10-12 minute piece for the Da Capo Chamber Players, who will be up in Maine for a 3-day residency this coming March. As Da Capo was a major part of my musical infancy - residents as they were at my alma mater, Bard College - this is as joyful a reunion as I could imagine. The opportunity to share the new music finesse and generosity that has characterized that group for four decades with my own students is nothing short of sublime.
Well, thanks for tuning in - I'll try to blip in again soon with updates and silly other stuff.