The Moment: 2016 Begins
As 2015 winds down and 2016 begins, there are so many things to be excited about! My fiancé, Ryan, is officially halfway through his Master's Degree. We've just finished our two-week vacation, where we visited both his family in New Mexico and mine in Texas. I'm happy to report that I gained nearly ten pounds eating a brand new diet I invented which consists mainly of tamales, chicken fried steak, and sweet tea, and now have a clear fitness goal for 2016. See how fun it is to look on the bright side?
Luckily, I have a ton of professional activities to be excited about in the coming year as well.
- I have been informed that I Will Run has been acknowledged by the committee for the 2015 Raymond S. Brock Student Composition Competition as an honorable mention. Even better, I've been invited to the Eastern ACDA Convention in Boston to participate in a Masterclass with Steven Stucky and Steven Sametz, two incredible composers, where I Will Run will receive a reading by the professional chorus C4. It's an unbelievable opportunity, and I cannot wait--it almost makes me excited about going to Boston in February, ha! The ACDA Eastern Division conference will be right before Valentine's Day. Let me know if you'll be there and would like to grab coffee--I can never get enough!
- I also submitted an entry to the Southwest ACDA Student Conducting Competition, and was chosen as a semi-finalist! So in March, I'll head to Kansas City, Missouri to do some hardcore arm-flapping in front of a panel of judges. Hopefully my competitive spirit will drive me to win, but if not, I'm excited to get the chance to go to two ACDA conventions in less than 30 days. Like I said earlier, let me know if you'll be there and want to get together.
- In a few weeks, I'll have my final rehearsal and recording session with UNC Fresh Ink, the choir I've assembled and rehearsed (and taken the liberty of naming) to record demos of a handful of my works. We've had only three rehearsals, but they sound phenomenal, and in the end I'll have demo recordings of the following pieces to put up:
- I'm stoked to be continuing with my formal studies in voice and composition this semester, as I join those studios at UNCO. I'll also continue to study conducting as well, which I love. (For the record, no regrets about my decision to go back to school. Ba-dah-bah-bah-bah... I'm lovin' it.)
- The Denver Gay Men's Chorus, an ensemble filled with personal friends, will premiere my arrangement of "Hold On" from The Secret Garden this season. This song is near and dear to my heart, and I arranged it specifically with DGMC in mind. While it's not currently available for wide purchasing due to copyright reasons, contact me and I can set you up with the necessary information to perform it.
- News will be coming soon about a new app I'm developing with some students at UNCO--it's a little down the road, but hopefully it's something teachers can use to supplement their rhythm-reading in class. For various reasons, I have to keep it fairly under wraps for now, but it's cool stuff.
- I'm updating my website: new "proof scores" to protect against piracy (arrr!) and pictures coming soon!
- I have a ton of new works coming down the pipeline at various stages of completion as well. I don't normally do this, but here's a little snippet of information about the ones I'm confident will eventually be finished.
- House of the Rising Sun: a very dark arrangement of the tune, featuring SATB divisi a cappella, soprano soloist, and djembe. Additional words by me (in both English and Louisiana Creole) heighten the drama and elaborate on the story. Very excited about this one.
- Go Lovely Rose: Energetic, mixed-meter, with lots of independent lines--this one I'm approaching as another contemporary madrigal. Lots of fun, and I think a nice alternative to the traditional settings you hear of the text, which--while nice--are invariably slow, "pretty" numbers.
- Four White Horses: It's been in the works for awhile now, but I'm convinced that 2016 is the year that I finish my mega-crazy arrangement of this caribbean folksong. I'm shooting for something akin to Ryan Cayabyab's incredible "Da Coconut Nut" or Paul Rardin's "Hol' You Han'," though we'll see if I can even come close to matching those awesome pieces.
- Let America Be America Again: with an incredible text by Langston Hughes, this piece is quickly evolving into something very unique for me. First off, it's a longer work, but secondly, it's likely going to be my first fully-orchestrated score. My only hope is to do this poem justice.
- Phenomenal Woman: if you need some girl-power, go read this poem by Maya Angelou. My setting is gospel choir to the max, and trust me, you're going to love it.
- Prayer of St. Francis: this piece will combine my own lamentation text with the original French version of the famous prayer, "Lord, make me and instrument of thy piece." I began work on it the night of the Paris attacks, and hope that it will serve as a fitting tribute to the memory of those victims.
- anyone lived in a pretty how town: I'm so excited to finally be setting this text by EE Cummings (the name should be capitalized, the poems should not, by the way) for SATB Choir and piano. Stylistically, it's somewhat similar to Harry Somer's classic setting of "Feller From Fortune," but with a lot more mixed-meter and a little more story.
- Axis Mundi: the title of my song-cycle for women's chorus has finally been settled upon! 2-3 more pieces are currently in the works for the cycle, including a setting of Wendell Berry's "The Peace of Wild Things." Hopefully it will be done before the end of the year.
Thanks so much to all those out there who continue to support me as a composer. To close this post (since it's likely to be the last one for awhile as the semester winds up), I thought I'd share with you the poem I've written as the preface to "The Moment," (formerly "A Child's Meditation" and "Where the Sidewalk Ends"). It's fitting as I turn the page into a new year, with so much to look forward to.