This post is from on the road–I’m now in Warrensburg, Missouri, getting set to attend the University of Central Missouri New Music Festival. I drove up this morning from Oklahoma City, where I spent three fantastic days at Oklahoma City University. Parents and high school teachers–if your kids are interested in majoring in music in college, have them look at OCU! Fantastic facilities, great ensembles and just a wonderful atmosphere that includes an emphasis on new music. It can be difficult to go to a new music conference and hear two-and-a-half days of contemporary music (12 concerts in 50 hours), but the folks at OCU made it easy. Aside from one or two performances, the quality was extremely high across the board in nearly every studio. Not only that, there were presentations of two operas. I plan on recommending John Billota’s wonderful Quantum Mechanic to our vocal director at OPSU for next year’s opera scenes. Get to this school.
Highlights included Jason Bahr’s orchestra piece Golgatha, Daniel Perttu’s Rhapsody for clarinet, violin and piano and Robert Fleisher’s Ma Mere for solo cello. A good brass quintet piece can be elusive, but Harry Bulow’s Spectrum is a piece I will be trying to get my hands on if I ever find myself playing in that ensemble. On Friday night, the OCU Wind Philharmonic gave stunning performances, of which my favorite was Robert Hutchinson’s As Blue Night Descends Upon the World. My fellow Ohio State alum, Igor Karaca, now at Oklahoma State University presented a wonderfully meditative piece entitled Scallop Shell of Quiet for violin, double bass and piano. The conference ended with featured composer Cindy McTee’s riveting Einstein’s Dream for strings, percussion and electronic playback. My father suggested that I write a piece based on Einstein’s life and work, but after hearing Dr. McTee’s piece, it seems unecessary. Here’s a link to the website for the conference.
The quality of performances throughout the conference was high enough that it showed the way any piece benefits from a really strong group of players. It was a clear demonstration that new music is alive and well.
I’m now anticipating the fourth performance of my Sevens for four trumpets on Tuesday. I’ve been in contact with the trumpet professor who is coaching the group, and he seems very positive about the piece. Hopefully, there will be good news on Tuesday.
I also tried to cram on the Hammerklavier during the last few days of February, but it didn’t work out, so yesterday, I made a decision to spend March on Opus 106. I did the two short Opus 49 sonatas in one month, so I’m technically ahead of the game, and the piece deserves it, so, on the off chance that you actually want to know what I have to say about Beethoven, you’ll just have to wait.