On Tuesday night June 30th my work Elegy was performed on the second (of 10) chamber concerts featuring faculty and guest performers at the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina. Violist Jamie Hofman, oboist Karen Birch Blundell, and flutist Ann Choomack gave perhaps the finest performance that any of my works have received. The review from the Classical Voice of North Carolina reads in part:
The rich colors and sonorities are explored before it culminates with gorgeous harmonics on the viola as it soars to the top of its range, as if, Connor observes "reaching toward the heavens." It would be difficult to imagine a more consummate performance than that of flutist Ann Choomack, violist Jamie Hofman, with Karen Birch Blundell on English horn.
I've been coming to the Eastern Music Festival for years in support of my wife Marta Simidtchieva who is been on the faculty for over a decade. It is such a privilege to share the spotlight with the many fine musicians with whom I've known and have been friends with for over a decade here at the festival.
It was also nice to have program notes written by the remarkable Paul Schiavo, who has written notes for recordings and concerts too numerous to list. Just a bit from the opening:
Verdi initally conceived his famous Requiem as an homage to another great Italian opera composer, Rossini, on the first anniversary of his death. The Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski wrote his beautiful Musiqui funebre to honor the late Bela Bartok. And as far back as the 15th century, the great Renaissance composer Josquin des Prez wrote a motet in honor of his teacher, Johannes Ockeghem, upon learning of the latter's passing, in 1497.
It is this kind of insightful prose that makes Paul's work a commodity, and I'm certainly flattered to be compared to Josquin, Verdi, and Lutoslawski!
I spent the final Saturday of May travelling to Indiana to hear the Eminence Jr./Sr. High School premiere Contrails for band. The work was requested by Patrick Cronin who is a friend of mine from college and the music teacher for the entire school system in the small town of Eminence, just west of Indianapolis. Pat has done terrific work in his job, which includes everything from teaching Orff to the elementary students to taking his combined Jr./Sr. High School Band to state festivals. I was very impressed with what he does and very impressed with the performance by his students.
The title Contrails has several meanings: When I first began the piece the title was inspired by a poem that I wrote to express my joy when my daughter born. During the writing period I was thinking about the proximity of Eminence to the Indianapolis Airport. Finally, and only because the premiere was at the school’s graduation (with a nice large audience!) did the metaphor for the graduates soaring off into their adult lives become obvious. I like that there could be many interpretations.
Upon my departure, Pat and his band presented me with a signed copy of the original score with the following inscription on the back cover, signed by himself and all of his students:
Thank you for accepting this commission and writing such a fantastic piece for the Eminence Band! Learning this has been a high point of my year and has been a wonderful tool for fostering the love of music as well as accepting and mastering a challenge for our band. The music is so evocative of taking off and soaring! It is particularly appropriate for the 2014 Eminence Graduation ceremony where it is being debuted. I am doubly proud that the piece has been accepted for publication and will ultimately spread the name of Eminence far and wide. I’m sure bands the world over will enjoy the music as much as we have!
Pat's a good guy. This was special.