Very pleased that I ended the semester with a 3.766 GPA! And surprised that I got a B+ in Graduate Theory Analysis. I totally did not get the final analysis project, and instead of writing up the analysis, I wrote up what I did know and what I had found (which wasn’t much) and how I thought what I had found related to what I was supposed to be analyzing. Prof. took that into account I guess – So I’m happy with my B+.
The public performances of my works (finally!) during the academic year were:
- March 15th – Four Shakespeare Sonnets, Opus 16. Tenor Michael Celentano, pianist John Isenberg and bassoonist Rachel Celentano did an excellent job!
- April 5th – Adagio, Flute Music No. 1, Opus 10b. Flautist Jacqueline Robins and pianist Chai-Kyou Mallinson made a memorable performance.
- April 5th – Flute Trio with Piano, Opus 14. Beautifully done!
- May 8th – Opus 14 again at the Student Recognition Midday Concert.
- May 8th – “Wisdom” for Women’s Chorus, flute, and Piano, Opus 9. The BU Women’s chorus under Dr. Borton, with pianist Wm. Lawson and flautist Georgetta Maiolo gave a wonderful performance. I was very, very pleased with their rendition.
- May 11th – Two of the three songs of my Opus 18, Three Songs. These three songs are scored for mezzo-soprano, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano and marimba. The performers were mezzo-soprano Jacqueline Horner Kwiatek (of the Emmy Award-winning group Anonymous 4), flautist Georgetta Maiolo, professor of flute at Binghamton University, clarinetist Timothy Perry, Professor of Music at BU, violinist Joe Vanderpool, a classmate and fellow-wiseass of mine at B.U., cellist Xander Edwards (who graciously filled in when the concert had to be rescheduled and my original cellist, Prof. Stephen Stalker, had a conflict and could not perform with us), pianist (and accompanist extraordinaire!) Pej. Reitz, and percussionist Michael Compitello, head of the percussion department at Cornell. The performances of “There is a Community of Spirit” and “I Am Part of the Load” were beyond my expectations – I was very moved, as were some others in the audience. The third song, “I want a Troublemaker for a Lover” was not performed.
So many projects going on I can hardly keep track of them all. Here are the ones in progress:
- String Quartet listening and analysis. The New Music & New Voices (composition seminar) be hosting a string quartet next academic year, so the big project will be composition of at least one string quartet. Performance is almost ensured for me – I’ll be the only 2nd year composition student in the grad program. So I’ve chosen 29 different string quartets and am going through them – pretty much phrase by phrase – learning about spacing and texture and register and rhythmic modes and scales and all sorts of things. I’ve chosen a broad spectrum, including Purcell, Haydn (of course), Beethoven (absolutely), Schubert, Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Borodin, Debussy (rather boring), and Ravel (ravishing textures!). But the list is heavily weighted to Bartok (all six), Prokofiev (surprised he composed only two), and, the great 20th century master, Shostakovich. Much to learn, much to learn.
- Composing a cello piece that I’ll probably file away somewhere. It’s not standing up.
- Continuing working on “Che Bella Luna,” a piece for string orchestra, chorus and soloists. I’ll probably set this aside until after the string quartets are written – I’ll know much more about how to write it at that point.
- A quartet of some as yet undefined instrumentation – another that will probably be filed in the “keep this for ideas” folder.
- Revision of the eight unaccompanied Americana songs I wrote for Jake Stamatis.
Recently completed (like the last three days) compositions:
- A setting of “Dirge Without Music” by Edna St. Vincent Millay for soprano and piano. It’s different from anything else I’ve written. I like it a lot. Opus 29
- An Intrada for Viola and Piano. Again, very different from anything else I’ve ever written. it’s minimalist in a way, but hugely Romantic in others. The piano treble moves slowly and in small steps while the bass moves almost completely in (small) leaping intervals, both with extensive use of grace notes. And while the signature is F minor, the tonality is something wholly different. This piece might form the Adagio of the string quartet I’m going to write. (I’m probably going to write more than one string quartet before this project is finished.) Opus 28
- An Adagio for Three Cellos and Four Bassoons. There are other instrumentations, but I doubt I can find two oboe players, an oboe d’mor player and an English horn player in this town! So bassoons it is. :) It’s quite dark with all those low sonorities, but beautiful, of course. It grew out of a piece I wrote for a film at the end of the semester.
- Five Pieces for Piano, Opus 27. There are two preludes, two humoresques, and a Chorale & Allegro. Nice pieces. I’m especially pleased with the first humoresque because I employed a scale system I’ve never used before, and some rhythmic techniques that are new to me. I don’t know if I’ll find anyone to play them, but I’ll ask around during the summer.
- A song called “Sin Theories” which is a combination of two poems I got permission to use from an Eastern European punk poet. I’ve also connected with a poet in The Netherlands who writes some very nice poems.
So that’s what went on, that’s what’s going on and that’s what I’m working on. I do have to get a job for the summer in order to get my car fixed (again!) and pay the rent and eat for July and August. I’ve got a couple of church gigs that bring in about $260 a month total, so any part time job should suffice to make up what I need.
Ciao! I hope all is well with you!