It’s been a very exciting Spring semester for me at Binghamton University. After more than a year of trying to get my music looked at and played, I find myself swept up in an avalanche of happy!
First, my compositions are going full speed. Here’s a list of what I’ve been working on:
– A series of unaccompanied folk-like songs for Baritone. This project is a commission brought about by setting a poem by Robert Penn Warren. I was having a lot of toruble with the accompaniment and finally just deleted it altogether. Then I played the melody by itself and it worked so very well that I said the hell with the accompaniment altogether. It is lovely. I gave a few copies around and Jake Stamatis (watch for that name!) liked it so much he asked me to do a series. :)
– A piece for cello and percussion that – while probably not being performed by itself, I’ve mined for use in other works.
– I’m setting my elegy for the moon (“Che Bella Luna”) for chorous, full orchestra and four soloists. A big work, but I think it will be beautiful.
– “Once More” is a setting of the “once more into the breach” speech from Henry V, III, 1. It’s scored for tenor, bassoon, horn, trumpet, piano, cello and percussion. This was part of the Shakespeare project I got started on last Fall. Michael Celentano, a baritone transitioning to tenor, asked me to set some Shakespeare sonnets for him, and then suggested I do this as well. More on this later.
– Four Sonnets by Wm. Shakespeare. I set five sonnets in six days (!) and they turned out rather well. I finally withrdrew one of them because I didn’t like it so much, but the other four were premiered just Saturday on Michael’s masters recital. They were put at the end of the program and were received well. I’ll post a recording when I get one in the next couple of weeks.
– My first piano sonata. The first movement is a chromatic wonder – playful and fun. The second movement is a highly romantic adagio, so complex it had to be written on three staves. The third movement is a (poor) rondo that will have to be replaced. Pianist (and fellow collaborator forty years ago) Stephen Zank is planning on performing it – but I don’t know when.
– Three settings of Rumi poems. I’ve only recently discovered Rumi, the 13th century Persian poet. This project is intimately connected with a visiting mezzo-soprano named Jacqueline Horner who sings with the female a cappella group “anonymous 4”. They record older music of the Renaissance mostly. She also does a lot of avante garde music. There are three songs, set for combinations of Mezzo, flute, clarinet, marimba, piano, violin and cello. They are really very nice and will be featured at a concert called “New Music & New Voices” on May 1st. The very cool part is that many of the music department staff want to be in on this – so I’ve got the flute professor, the clarinet professor and the cello professor all involved! This is going to be great! Horner was here a few weeks ago for a master voice class (two of my songs were workshopped, the Robert Penn Warren, and another, a Christmas Lullaby that I revised from a piece I wrote in the early 1980’s.).
– Two of my flute pieces – an adagio for flute and piano adapted from all that piano music I wrote last summer, and a piece for flute trio and piano, also adapated from that same piano music – are going to be performed in concert in early April.
– I set a Sara Teasdale poem, “Wisdom” for women’s chorus and piano last summer. Prof. Borton has put that on the women’s chorus program for May 8th!
So it’s all coming together! Three songs workshopped at four different venues, the Shakespeare Sonnets, three Rumi poems, two flute pieces and a choral piece all performed at legit university venues – just this semester!
Things could hardly be going better! :)