So many things to do . . . Where do I start?

Something are just higher on the priority list, but what should be the highest?

I just got word that I made round two of my audition for the Masters program in conducting at BYU.  Wahoo!  Way excited.  I have an interview and audition with them sometime in the future.  They asked me to play any Bach Chorale they put in front of me.  Naturally, I’m want to play through all 371 chorales before my audition, whenever that will be.  I need to practice a lot.

I have a paper due next week.  The topic is musical practices in ancient semitic religion.  Fun!  I’m actually really excited about this topic.  It’s going to an interesting thing to learn.

I also am conducting the BYU Singers in “Ave Verum Corpus” this Saturday in Salt Lake City.  I’m excited but also nervous at the same time.  The choir has been sounding amazing, it just comes down to if i do a good job.

I’ve got a recording project in the oven that need to be worked on before studio time gets book up out the wazoo.  Ah!  I have an arrangement to write for strings as well!

I’m probably not going to get any composing done in the next little while.  All of things are pretty important.  No free time to spare!

Finished My Commission Early!

What a great President’s Day!  Bless you Washington and Lincoln.  My only regret is that we can’t take a holiday for both of your birthdays, we just have to compromise.  Oh well.

Today started off with a trip to the Midway hot springs.  It was a rather interesting experience.  So, it’s way colder up in Midway than down here in Provo.  Holy cow!  People were ice fishing on Deer Creek Reservoir!  The public hot spring is kinda smelling and muddy, but super warm.  It wasn’t as nice as it looked in the pictures.  The Homestead Crater is much cleaner and prettier (although not as warm).  Good fun.

After all the fun of hot pots I decided to sit down and get some serious work done.  With a focused mind I sat down to finish the “B” section and subsequently the rest of “Lord, Open Thou Mine Eyes,” for Karen Ann Baron.  It was pretty difficult.  Sometimes I had to walk away from the piano and try to listen to the concert hall in my mind.  It’s hard because it feels like it’s less work even though, ultimately, it gets the most accomplished.  I finished the first draft about a half hour ago and had my roommate listen to the MIDI mock-up (I HATE MIDI mock-ups, but they’re a necessary evil).

However, finishing my commission also means that I didn’t have time to work on any other compositions.  Oh well, I got the most important work done.  Now, I hand it off to Karen and polish the work during rehearsals.

Here’s page one:

Yay!  I can make deadlines!

Working on New Choral Pieces

Sometimes, ideas come and go.  There’s no real rhyme or reason for why, it just happens.  I’ll see a text, love it, and want to write for it, and then the next week, I’ll dump it.  These things happen.

Recently, however, there are a few texts that are not leaving me alone.  One text that has me in a vice is the simple but powerful Latin text, “Hosanna filio David,”  and it proves more challanges in setting to music then it seems.  It reads:

“Hosanna, Hosanna filio David.
Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
O Rex Israel, Hosanna in excelsis.

“Hosanna, Hosanna to the son of David.
Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
O King of Israel, Hosanna in the highest.

Another one is by Sara Teasdale who I only discovered last year (how did I miss this exquisite woman?).  She writes some truly beautiful words, but one that wont escape my mind is her poem titled, “Water Lilies.”

“If you have forgotten water lilies floating
On a dark lake among mountains in the afternoon shade,
If you have forgotten their wet, sleepy fragrance,
Then you can return and not be afraid.

But if you remember, then turn away forever
To the plains and the prairies where pools are far apart,
There you will not come at dusk on closing water lilies,
And the shadow of mountains will not fall on your heart.”

-Sara Teasdale

Someday, these will be done, and I’ll post them or somethin’.  Still working on the commission as well.  Lotsa work to do tomorrow, after visiting the Midway hot springs.  Hooray!

Amazing Scratchboard Art

I moved apartments this semester and got to know my roommate Erik Linton.  He’s a swell guy and turns out he’s also an amazing artist.  He lived in Peru for two years and is fascinated with Latin and Native American culture.  He sketches quite a bit, but also works in this unusual, but awesome medium called Scratchboard.  Basically, it’s a black board that when scratched reveals white underneath.  It’s pretty amazing simply because it leaves virtually no room for errors.  Erasing is not an option.  He’s got this picture of a Navajo child hanging in our living room.

I’ve always admired this sort of artistry that really requires a solid vision of what the piece is supposed to look like.  It takes a great deal of focus and serenity to visualize a piece like this before making the first scratch.  It’s a similar style I take when I start composing.  I don’t write a single note until I can actually hear the music ringing in my head.  There’s a concert hall in my mind and if I can hear it there, then I can start writing.  Sometimes, it’s all a matter of dictation.  After I finish a piece, sometimes I feel like I didn’t really do anything except put into a notated form.

Speaking of notated form, My commission is due by the end of this month.  We’ll see if I can finish it ahead of schedule!

Visit my roommates website at

Recital + Ave verum corpus

Last week, I gave my first recital.  It was an interesting situation.  It’s not required for my degree program, but I wanted to see what it was like.  A friend of mine, Britain Young, (a fantastic singer) from Concert Choir had a junior recital to do for her degree and agreed to let me squeeze onto her program.  All she needed to do was sing for half an hour, so I filled up the time with a half hour myself.  It was easy to come up with repertoire, because I meant to give this recital last year, but had to back out because I got bronchitis.

My recital rep. is as follows:

“Liebestrau” by Johannes Brahmns

“Verborgenheit” by Hugo Wolf

“Chanson d’amour” by Gabriel Fauré

“Le manoir de Rosamonde,” and

“Chanson triste,” by Henri Duparc

“Sure on this Shining Night” by Samuel Barber

and “Secret Prayer,” by Marcus Smith

The three French songs I chose made up a set about three stages of love: infatuation, the breakup and reconciliation.  They’re some of my favorite pieces of vocal literature, EVER. The last song, “Secret Prayer,” is a song that I absolutely love, but is sadly underperformed.  A lot of people came up and told me how that was their favorite piece and that they had never heard it before.  I highly recommend it.

All this recital-ness has dominated my life for the past little while, so much that I forgot everything else I had to do.  One of those was start rehearsing a piece in BYU Singers!  I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m one of the assistant conductors for BYU Singers this year.

Dr. Staheli has asked me to rehearse and conduct a piece called “Ave verum corpus,” by Will Todd.  We were supposed to sing it last year, but it never quite fit into our repertoire, so it got scrapped.  It was sad because it’s such a brilliant piece.  How glad I am now that we didn’t do it last year, otherwise I wouldn’t be conducting it this year (with Dr. Staheli at the piano!).  It’s a really remarkable piece that’s beautifully crafted.  It’s a dark, moody sort of piece, but so reverent and electric.  I love it.

We started rehearsing it on Monday and got to run through it fully today.  Dang!  This choir is just soooooo awesome!  They pick up music and run with it.  What a privilege I have to conduct such beautiful music with one of the finest choirs in the nation.  They’re just too cool.

I’m not sure when I’m conducting this piece, but it will be one of the concerts this semester.  I’ll give a little update when it happens.  Until then, I’ll keep composing.