A new season of music is upon us! And with a new season, a tall stack of new scores to learn. I have compiled a number of works that will be performed by the various groups I lead. In addition, I’ve added a few all-time favorites and other interesting tracks.
I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Ted Hansen. During my tenure as an undergraduate at Texas A&M University-Commerce, I took every class he taught (something I probably can't say about any other professor in my training). As I reflect on those courses, I am struck by the way in which every class was so uniquely organized and tailored to the students and to the topic at hand. No two were alike.
Boring speaks to craft. It speaks to craftsmanship. It speaks to long, laborious, often repetitive tasks that have great payoff, if only the craftsman will apply the time and diligence to see the project through to the end.
This post is one of a series on composer Florence Price.
Below is a timeline of some of the major events of the life of Florence Beatrice Price with many linked sources allowing the reader to explore further.
When an important composer's papers, including dozens of her best works, are lost and then later found, an entire cottage industry must necessarily grow up around bringing these works to life. Thankfully, the University of Arkansas has begun to create exactly that, and many of Price's works are seeing their very first performances and recordings…
Florence Price was doubtless one of the great composers of her generation, and the first African American woman "to achieve national recognition for her accomplishments as a symphonic composer." Price seems finally to be having her "moment" with a flurry of press and the premiere of her fourth symphony and second violin concerto all occurring since January. An American original who completed over 300 compositions…
April 2018 has been a month filled with exciting changes to my portfolio of conducting activity as I look ahead to the 2018-2019 season. Here are the two most significant updates:
How do you start a new music ensemble from scratch? I don't pretend to have all the answers but I enjoyed contributing my "piece of the map" to the conversation.
In October 2017, I had the privilege of giving a TED Talk and leading Symphony Number One in a performance at TEDxMidAtlantic 2017 in Washington, DC. My talk was titled Classical Music is Boring. (Turns out, there's more to "boring" than meets the eye!)
This most recent holiday season was a particularly joyful period of celebration. Here is a look at five musical moments from this past November and December:
I think one of the reasons I find this so appealing is that I didn’t initially discover Bruckner through his symphonies. My initial vector was through singing his motets in college. So, I think I never formed my mental Bruckner totem around his orchestrations but rather around his harmonic language, expressed in a capella choral music, as a tool to focus on reverence for The Divine, for The Higher Ideals, and for Our Better Nature. In a word, God.
Dear Representative Cummings,
I am writing to urge you to support FY17 and FY18 funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The NEA is a critical component in the network of public, private, corporate, and philanthropic support. Total direct grants by the agency are anticipated to reach more than 33 million people attending live arts events through NEA-supported programs. Grants to orchestras build innovative and civically vibrant communities such as ours by supporting arts education for children and adults, providing citizen access to performances, preserving great classical works, and nurturing the creative endeavors of contemporary classical musicians, composers, and conductors.
But there was one person who indefatigably stuck by me at this juncture, at the hour of greatest need. This was the same guy who was the very first to write me to express interest in getting the project going in the first place, all the way back in August 2014. In March 2015 at that coffee meeting, I had to ask him, in the midst of what had become a chaotic environment, where he stood. He told me, "I'm still in. At this point, I feel a moral commitment to help get this thing off the ground." And get it off the ground, we did....
Originally published in Baltimore:
It’s hard to believe that just a year ago, all of Baltimore waited with anticipation for the exciting inauguration of the festival called Light City. We wondered: What would this “light art” look like? Would the weather cooperate? Would the tourists show up? No one knew for sure, but everyone could feel the energy crackling.
I recently began contributing to Baltimore Magazine. Here's my first piece:
Wendel Patrick, “Let’s Ride”
The holidays get me thinking about sleigh rides, which, while they weren’t the inspiration for this track, still make me think of “Let’s Ride.” The vintage keyboard sounds alongside spicy drumbeats and clean electric guitars make this a perfect fit for our off-the-beaten-path sleigh ride. When you’re finished, check out some of Patrick’s other projects and collaborations, like the Baltimore Boom Bap Society and Bond St. District.
In the summer of 2016, I sat down with Jon Lim to discuss the most controversial word in the English language: failure.
In May of 2015 I lead Symphony Number One in our debut concert in Baltimore. Here's an audio essay I posted ahead of our launch:
We think we can better serve the composers we feature by focusing on just one emerging composer at a time rather than lumping all of them together onto one concert. Even trained musicians can get overwhelmed by a multitude of new compositional voices presented on one concert; how can we expect our audience to do any better? When this happens, your memories start to get flattened and you tend to only remember features like special effects, strange instruments, or other novelties, rather than to deeper musical layers.
After the death of my high school mentor, I wrote a thank you note to a number of influential mentors:
I could keep this up for hours, but I think you get the message. You are some of the most wonderful musicians and humans I have had the pleasure to know and I am just a representative for all of us whom you have touched as teacher, student, mentor, colleague, and friend. You are remarkable musicians and people, all of you, and I owe every bit of whatever small bit of success I've had to you. And if my message doesn't communicate a little bit about the power of band, this video about Gary says it all.
Here are a few early notes from my thinking on the topic of performance design:
Performance Design: An interdiscipline which examines and prescribes the tools and methods for designing a performance. Includes those tools under the traditional rubric of “interpretation” (examining manuscripts, historical studies, structural analysis) but also includes music perception fields (music cognition, information theory and neuroscience), programming, venue selection, and marketing.