Update: a step back, some steps forward

I’ve not been keeping up on blogging lately, either writing or reading. For shame! I suppose my online activities take a distant… something-eth… place to things such as homework, family, and sanity (in short supply of late). At the same time, I did strongly imply an update on my activities a couple of posts back, and the few of you who read this might actually want to read that update. Sadly, this is not it. But it is a different update!

I received an email from my publisher recently, informing me of a couple of upcoming performances. My Concerto for Marimba and Chamber Orchestra, which has not previously been performed, will receive two performances this spring in Pennsylvania (both in the reduced version for soloist, two pianos, and three percussionists). Sadly I will not be attending either of them, seeing as how I live in California, am a full-time student, and have somewhere in the neighborhood of ZERO dollars for plane tickets. Feel like donating some money to the cause? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

The first performance will be by Richard Lee Bono, a student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Rich is a senior music ed major, and will be performing the concerto on his recital at the end of March. He emailed me to introduce himself and ask if I had anything to say–and got perhaps a longer response than he bargained for! It was interesting to go through the score and remember what I was thinking when I wrote the concerto, which was nearly four years ago now. Perhaps more interesting yet was recounting the theological content built only half-consciously into the structure of the work. With eyes and language gained over the past two years, I was better able to articulate it than I would have been able to during the composing process itself–some encouragement in the artistic wasteland of a full time theological education!

The second performance, in early April, will be by Frank Kumor, professor of percussion at Kutztown University. I keep intending to write Dr. Kumor an email and introduce myself, say hello and such, but have not yet done so. I am particularly excited about this performance given Kumor’s long experience as a performer, and commitment to new music. There is apparently potential for a further (very significant) performance coming out of this as well, but I’ll save that for the future to see if it materializes.

I also talked to my friend and former percussion teacher Judy Moonert today. She was excited to hear about these performances, especially since the concerto is dedicated to her and she has not had the time to perform it (Judy keeps busy by playing in three professional ensembles, one of which frequently plays in NYC, on top of her position as professor of percussion at Western Michigan University… she’s a busy lady). But she did premiere my marimba quartet, Momentia/Minutia, with her percussion ensemble in 2005, then performed it again in 2006, and apparently there is a possibility for another performance late this year… also one which I will wait to see what happens before getting too excited about. I should be getting recordings of the previous performances soon, to which I am looking forward.

I miss percussion. I miss performing. I’ve been listening to a bit of percussion music lately, but it’s unfortunately difficult to find very much that’s really exciting musically. Composers tend either to be intimidated by writing for percussion (so they don’t), or to write really “typecast” music–high on bombast and exciting rhythms, low on musical content. It’s too bad, and it’s a big reason why I’ve written as much percussion music as I have, despite the fear of being typecast myself as a niche composer. But I love the instruments, and I write well for them because I’ve spent so much time as a performer myself, so in many ways it is a very natural fit. I was looking over some sketches I had for a piano work recently, and realized that they are perhaps even better fitted for marimba… so who knows, there may be something new in the works soon.

That’s a long post of stuff you’re probably not all that interested in. But it feels really good to write it. To be able to write it. It’s nice to feel like a composer, not a theologian. I can’t wait to be back in a music program (God willing).

Actually coming soon: an update on what I am currently composing, why, how, and what I intend to do about it! (Plus: minutiae of my life). For now you’ll just have to wait…

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Scott

Composer of music and sonic art. Percussionist, guitarist, computer musician. Composition/theory/electronic music professor. Husband and father. Catholic. Food and beer enthusiast. Perpetually dissatisfied with the contents of my sock drawer.

One thought on “Update: a step back, some steps forward”

  1. Scott,

    Thanks for the sympathy. This application process is like some kinda mental torture, isn’t it?!

    It’s wonderful to hear about your piece being performed. Wish I were a rich grad student and could fly you out there myself, but “rich grad student” is an oxymoron. Like “fun application process.”

    Good luck!

    PC

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