The Atlanta Singers Premiere “Desert Pools”

I just learned that the Atlanta Singers, directed by David Morrow, will be performing my composition “Water Lilies,” and premiere my piece, “Desert Pools” on Friday, April 26th at the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center. Both are settings of poems by Sara Teasdale. If you’re in the Atlanta area you should go check it out! I wont be able to be there, but I’m sure it’ll be great. Here’s a poster of their event:

Atlanta Singers

“Water Lilies” Premieres Tonight

I just got word that my “Water Lilies” will be premiering tonight at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.  A student there named Kaedron Hall contacted me about performing one of my pieces in his conducting recital.  He expressed interest in performing “Water Lilies” and “Desert Pools.”  In the end, only “Water Lilies” made it to the program (understandably, both are tough as nails).

When I first got a message from Kaedron, I wasn’t sure if it was something I should believe or if Kaedron was someone that I should trust with my piece that wasn’t published or ever performed.  That changed when I went to the Morehouse College website and saw what kind of an institution it was.  When I saw that they emphasize character, integrity, and other characteristics of great leaders I stopped worrying.

It will be tonight at 8 PM in the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center, if you’re in the area, you should go.

Good luck Kaedron!

New Piece: Desert Pools

Oh my flippin’ heck it’s done! Holy moly that was painful and long.

I love the poetry of Sara Teasdale (1884-1933) and have found so many beautiful poems by her.  There are a few of her poems that have been set to music (by a large number of composers) but she has numerous poems that get overlooked and cry out to be set to music.  “Desert Pools,” in my opinion, is one of them:

“I love too much; I am a river
Surging with spring that seeks the sea,
I am too generous a giver,
Love will not stoop to drink of me.

His feet will turn to desert places
Shadowless, reft of rain and dew,
Where stars stare down with sharpened faces
From heavens pitilessly blue.

And there at midnight sick with faring,
He will stoop down in his desire
To slake the thirst grown past all bearing
In stagnant water keen as fire.”

These words moved me so much; It’s teeming with energy and life and I couldn’t ignore it.  I knew that I needed to set it to music.  That was over a year ago.  I finished “Water Lilies,” “In Paradisum,” and “Crux Fidelis” during the time I spent writing this.  I don’t know why, but this had to marinate for a year.

Whenever I finish a piece I feel that I make at least one or two breakthroughs in my writing.  Every breakthrough helps me become a better writer but can mean quite a bit of pain and anxiety.  I had probably five or six with this one.

I see this as a companion piece with “Water Lilies,” and hope to see them performed side by side one day.

Here’s the first page . . . still some stuff to do:

Happy New Year!

Well, another year has come and gone.  That keeps happening for some weird reason.

2010 has been a good year, “Midnight Clear,” made it to publication, I got to go to London to study choral music, and I got into the Masters program here at BYU.  I also popped out some more compositions.  Who knows what’s going to happen with these, if they’re going to go anywhere at all, but it’s a great learning experience.

Hopefully this year will be the opportunity to premiere some of these new works and continue writing more.  Already planned this year is me conducting University Chorale for my graduate recital, and BYU Singers going to ACDA in Chicago and on tour to Colorado and Wyoming.  Who knows what else will come up.

Here’s to the new year.

Work, Work and more Work

It’s been a while since I posted anything.  Here’s a small update:

– Rehearsing Chorale, and assisting BYU Singers and Women’s Chorus is going well.  There’s a lot of work to do.  It’s about the same as directing Sforzando and Wasatch, but now it’s an official class I’m working with.  We’ve been making huge strides forward, and it’s exciting to see progress being made.

– Not a lot of composing recently, but that’s to be expected.  I’ve been writing compositions mostly for my 18th century Counterpoint class.  Fun class; lots of work.

– Even though I haven’t been writing anything new I have been polishing “Water Lilies” and “In Paradisum.”  Hopefully we can get these pieces performed soon.  Keep your fingers crossed!  I’ll keep you updated as soon as plans become firm.

– Been buying a lot of new music for my choral literature class.  I’m starting to go through phases where I focus on one composer and buy a bunch of their music.  I’ve gone through Eric Whitacre, Tarik O’Regan, Gabriel Jackson, Frank Ferko, and now Dominck Argento.  These last two are composers I’ve been less familiar with until recently.  Both of them are some of the strongest contemporary voices in American choral music today.  They’re leading the pack in excellent form.

– “Midnight Clear” had it’s final proof last month and is now (in theory) at the printer.  It’ll be available for sale next year.  I’ll be making a huge deal when it’s available to the public.

– This Christmas, I’ll be visiting my parents in Ukraine.  I feel cold just thinking about it, but I’m excited to see my parents again.

And now, a video of awesome music:

What’s been happening lately . . .

A few things have happened lately. Some good, some bad. I’ll make a news sandwich by putting the bad news between the good news.

First, the good news: I got into the Masters program for Choral Conducting here at BYU! I’m way excited for all the new opportunities I’m going to have here learning about choral music. I’m thrilled because I didn’t think my interview went all that well. It was kind of a wake up call when Dr. Staheli was talking with a student about the choral conducting class this fall. When she asked if he was teaching it, all he said was, “No, but he might,” pointing right at me. *Gulp* Am I ready to teach this stuff already?  I feel like I barely know what I’m doing!  What an exciting opportunity!

Some bad news: Karen came up to me today and let me know that she had to cut the piece I wrote for her from her recital.  She said should couldn’t get in touch with the violinist and that she didn’t feel that she knew it well enough to really do well in her hearing tomorrow.  However, she wants to do it for her next recital in the future.  So, the premiere hasn’t been canceled, it’s just been postponed until further notice.  That’s okay with me.  Can’t wait to hear it still.

More good news:  I’ve been doing some preliminary revisions to “Water Lilies,” and have mustered up enough confidence to take it to Dr. Staheli and Sister Hall.  We’ll see how they like it.  It really could go either way with this one.  In the meantime, I’ve also mustered enough confidence to put page one up here on my blog.  Huzzah!  Revisions will be inevitable.

“Water Lilies” Finished!

Wow!  This was a doozy.  I just finished writing “Water Lilies,” from a poem by Sara Teasdale.  Such a moody, haunting poem.  I just couldn’t get it out of my mind.  It took a while to finally get a sense of what it was supposed to sound like.  Here are the words again:

“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

As you can tell, it’s really has nothing to do with water lilies, but what an image.  The great temptation here is to write programatically.  I tried to resist, but some stuff still came out.  Oh well, what can you do?  Instead, I really tried to capture the feelings of these image.  The mood of watching water lilies floating.  So I used a lot of tritones.  I think that’s the most important interval in this piece.  There’s a section of secundal harmonies and I even used some aleatoric devices.

I’m hesitant to post any sort of sample of what I’ve written because I really don’t know if any of this will work.  It’s REALLY difficult.  I’m not gonna lie and say that it’s “Moderately Difficult,” like so many publishers would.  This is flippin’ hard!  I really don’t know if any of it is feasible or even if it flows the way it should.  I like a lot of things about it, but it’s still really, really rough.  It’s probably going to change quite a bit before I feel confident enough to post a sample here.

Anyway, here’s to the future!