A break from Mahler, just to say a few words about my own work right now. And before I do that, I’d like to link to John Mackey’s blog entry about writing for band vs. writing for orchestra. I don’t agree with everything, but if composition doesn’t work out for John (and it seems to be working out nicely), he probably can fall back on humor. At any rate, his entry “Even Tanglewood Has a Band” is wonderfully entertaining. I’m still not sure where I land on the issue he discusses, but it was good for a laugh.
It’s been a busy few days in my composition world. Tuesday night was the second band rehearsal for my new band-with-chorus piece, “Progress Through Knowledge.” I haven’t rehearsed one of my band pieces from scratch in a very long time, but this one seems to be going well. I’m happy for the opportunity to make the little changes in scoring that I knew would be necessary. Helping this piece be born looks to be a real pleasure. Since many of our band students are also in the choir, there will be the inevitable conversation I have to have with Joel Garber, our new choir director, about how we will share these students. It will help greatly that our numbers are up this year in both band and choir at OPSU. (Recession or not, we have more students and more returning students university-wide than we’ve had in twelve years. Sweet!)
Meanwhile, while I’m taking one of my pieces very much in hand as the premiere approaches, another is getting set for a performance this weekend in a city I’ve never visited, by performers I’ve never met, for a concert I can’t attend. This is a first experience for me. I wrote “Passacaglia” for flute and cello on August 2 during New Music Hartford’s 60/60 Composition Contest. My piece was selected for a premiere on Sunday, August 30 in Hartford, Connecticut. I’m disappointed that I can’t get there, and it feels strange to have completely “let go” of one of my children. I’ve made myself available to the performers, so if they need advice, they can call or email, but I’m not sure the piece will require that.
Last of all is the exciting collaboration I’ve started with Dr. Sara Richter, dean of liberal arts here. She’s written a wonderful one-act play about “Black Sunday,” Palm Sunday 1935, which here in the Panhandle saw the worst dust storm of the Dust Bowl years. I’m working on incidental music, a first for me (although I made attempts at it during my “juvenilia” era). I’ve decided to write the piece for piano, percussion and clarinet. More on which later, but so far it seems to be going well. The premiere will be during Guymon’s commemoration of Black Sunday this Spring, and will be the first piece of mine to be performed outside an academic setting in Oklahoma.