There's so much to write about!
The finished work for string orchestra, titled Meditation and Dance was delivered to the Consortium Members during the first week of December. The work ended up being in two main sections and five minutes in total. I'm pleased with how it turned out, the slow section is especially beautiful and the fast section has just enough to balance the work. As a composer, I'll never be satisfied with a finished work, at least not initially. From my perspective it can never be perfect, but at some point it has to be completed!
After delivery, I met with the Edwardsville High School Orchestra for an initial run on December 8th. This first rehearsal led to several immediate changes before a second meeting with the principal players on December 19th. The input from these five young but very insightful musicians led to major changes including the addition of slow material near the end of the work and some reworking of the viola parts. The final draft was delivered by January 3rd, 2017.
January was a busy month. Early in the month I visited Alton High School where I heard two orchestra classes rehearse the work and answered questions on topics ranging from my process to selecting the title. I also visited Edwardsville High School one last time before the world premiere of Meditation and Dance at the Illinois Music Educator Conference in Peoria on January 28th.
Two more performances are approaching soon. The combined Edwardsville High School Orchestras will perform the work Thursday, February 23rd in the school auditorium and the Alton High School Orchestra will have their premiere at the First Presbyterian Church in Alton, Illinois on February 28th.
October wasn't a very good composing month for me. I was very busy teaching and with my family and just couldn't seem to find a good sense of direction for this piece. However, with just one week left until December 1st and the delivery, I've finally made some significant progress towards its completion!
It looks like the new piece is going to open in C minor(ish). I've settled on a slow-fast-slow formal for the work with the following approximate timings: An opening slow section of 1:30-2:00 followed by a 2:00-2:30 fast section, and then a :30-:45 second slow conclusion.
The first 45 seconds of the piece is mostly completed. I have to make some decisions about bowings and there may be some adjustments to relative lengths of notes and phrases depending upon the overall architecture and proportion of the piece. I feel comfortable enough to share an image of the score:
The work opens with a C-G drone in the first and second violins. This drone serves as the backdrop for the entrance of a solo viola, followed by a solo cello, and then two solo violins creating a solo quartet that presents the thematic material for the piece. The soloists come together in measure 10 and present a series of chords to end the introductory music.
The plan is to finish this slow opening Thanksgiving Day before turning my attention to the fast music over the holiday weekend. If I stay on task, I should have a complete score in the first part of the week. I will hopefully post another update before the end of the weekend!
In my last post a few weeks ago I mentioned that it wasn't time to panic yet. Well, with just two weeks until the first of December, the time to panic has officially arrived!
As it stands right now, I have about 15 ideas that I've spun off the initial idea that I posted about two weeks ago, some developed and some not so much. I also have a pretty good idea of what I want the piece to do. Now the trick over the next few days will be shaping these ideas into a coherent piece of music. I'll do this by drawing a map of what I want to happen and then I'll begin molding my ideas into the important spots, for example: the opening, the closing, the climax, and the major section changes. Once the ideas for each of these sections are in place I'll begin the process of extending, polishing, and connecting each bit with each other until it is a cohesive unit.
It will be a busy weekend, look out for another post in the next few days with some details and perhaps even some fragments.
It's been a while since my last update and for good reason. I have been pretty distracted from writing in the past few weeks. I teach a lot and I have kids so sometimes life gets in the way of my composing. That's okay though, and even though I have just one month to go to submit the first draft of a completed work, there is no panic. However, it's definitely time to get to work!
With this in mind, I have a few ideas that I'm working through, including this one that has risen to the top of my list right now:
If you play through it, take it at a very moderate or slow tempo. It's written in C natural minor/aeolian at the moment, but that will probably change as I write. It's also very nice in Major, if you raise all of the flats to naturals and that has some nice possibilities to it.
The next step will be to try to extend this idea into a longer melody of 4-8 bars as well as breaking it into it's component to spin off even more ideas. If it's good material I should have many more ideas after a just a few hours of this type of work.
After doing some listening, I started to work on the CSIC piece this morning. I didn't get much down, but I set up the score for the final engraving and worked out a few ideas.
The Composers and Schools in Concert String Orchestra Commission now has five schools and ensembles participating. I anticipate a December 1st delivery of the score.
The five orchestras and directors are:
I will be meeting with each of the ensembles by September 25th and will start work on the piece very soon!