Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Happy New Year!

(photo: normal happy newt, not newtus gingrichus)

Happy New Year to all!

Here is what is going on in my little corner of the music world:

Since I last wrote you in June 2011 I have had some great experiences and met so many wonderful people. Here's a quick recap (often with links to the blogs I wrote regarding them):

June and July was my regular gig teaching the amazingly gifted choral students at the North Carolina Governor's School in Raleigh. This year's students, a women's choir of 24 voices, was beyond spectacular. I have never led a choir so committed to deep probing rehearsal, to an impeccable level of performance quality, to each other, and to having so much fun all along the way. We learned and performed repertoire far beyond the HS realm- one piece in particular was a premiere which was written in response to the tsunami in Japan and the piece was quite difficult-certainly a professional level score. These kids just rolled up their sleeves and worked like crazy to learn this score. Yes we struggled at times, but no one ever suggested we give up. It was truly a memorable summer for us. By the way, we memorized every score for the summer except for the premiere piece. I would also like to thank my assistant for the summer, Beth Philemon.

In September I visited the Portland, OR/Vancouver WA area for the Chor Anno premiere of my double choir piece "When Jesus Wept" (a modernization of the Billings' tune). Everyone there was so friendly and committed to learning this piece of mine, which is also not terribly easy.

(Chor Anno)

Special thanks to Howard Meharg, Reg Unterseher, April and Greg Duvic, Margaret Green and a slew of other folks. I still have to finish blogging about this experience and tell you about Tim Sharp's "Come Away to the Skies", which was performed as well and with Tim there on banjo. So look for that blog soon.

October marked the release of the latest Atlanta Sacred Chorale CD "Awake the Dawn" (da Chiesa DCSR 119). The chorale, led by Eric Nelson, did a wonderful job on my piece "Morning Person", (published by Roger Dean) with a text by New Orleans poet Vassar Miller, retelling Creation in a new, highly imaginative way. I channelled Canadian dude Healy Willan and Sondheim while writing this (yeah you'll have to hear it to figure that out- go buy the CD!). Other composers on the CD include Rutter, Chilcott, Bernstein, J. Hairston, some guy named Lauridsen, Lee Dengler and more. Visit www.atlantasacredchorale.org for more info.

In November I attended the National Collegiate Choral Organization conference in Ft. Collins, CO (multiple blogs starting here). This was a blast and hearing Robert Taylor's University of Charleston Choir and Graeme Langager's University of British Columbia Singers were big discoveries for me. Everyone had a great time at NCCO and the future looks very bright for this organization. Congrats to Buddy James, Lisa Graham, Mitos Andaya, Bill Bausano, Bill Dehning, Sarah Graham, and James Kim for putting on such a great program.

December held a slew of performances and premieres of my music- thank you to all who performed my holiday music- and I am proud to have written quality pieces that do fall out of the realm of strictly Christmas, such as "Winter Solstice" (SSA/harp or piano which was performed a lot) and "Unending Flame" (a non-dorky Hanukkah piece which got multiple performances by Ethan Sperry's Oregon Repertory Singers-- thanks Ethan!).

What's up for the next few months? Plenty!

Roger Dean is releasing in a week or two these new titles (too bad there is not an SATB title there):

"Rain" SSA/piano Uptempo, jazzy and very fun (commissioned by the Cincinnati Children's Choir, directed by Robyn Lana). This piece would be for HS and up women's choirs.

"May I be Happy" SA/piano In two parts, the first is a slow-ish Eastern Orthodox benediction of sorts, and the piece then becomes more lively to the text of a Buddhist chant. This piece was commissioned by a great young choir in Hong Kong last year. This piece would be for grade 6 and up treble choirs. Both titles will be in place for ACDA conferences in Feb. and March.

Roger Dean is currently my main publisher- they have been so supportive. If you would like a free perusal copy of these new releases, or single copies of all of my Roger Dean scores (treble and mixed titles), let me know. They are happy to mail out scores. I can also sign you up to be on their mailing list to receive all the new releases by all their composers. In an age when most publishers are very stingy about supplying free scores, Roger Dean is a breath of fresh air.

In February I will be presenting an interest session at the North Central ACDA conference in Madison, WI. This will be my first time at a NC ACDA conference and I expect it will be great. My session will be on ways to enable your choir to take more initiative and allow you, as teacher, to do less heavy lifting. It's influenced by teaching theories at NC Governor's School and by ideas from Rick Bjella (now at Texas Tech) and Sandra Snow. In April I will be presenting the same session at the Tennessee MEA conference in Chattanooga.

All through the spring there will be a number of performances of various pieces, including premieres. One I am very excited about is a performance of "When Jesus Wept" (the piece I mentioned up above) by the University of North Texas choir directed by DMA candidate Patrick Dill. Richard Sparks suggested that Patrick look at this piece and he has decided to do it- so I am thrilled to see another advanced SATB piece getting a performance by an excellent choir. If you would like a free perusal pdf file of this piece let me know.

In May I will be wrapping up my one year stint with Angie Johnson's Young Naperville Singers as their composer in residence. Last night I just finished the fourth piece I have written for them for this season. It has been a blast working with the various choirs in the program and I look forward to even more fun interaction with them between now and May.

Just a few things left to say:

This here blog is fun to do but very time consuming-- I am on the lookout for anyone who would like to guest blog (a few people have, and done great jobs) about anything they would like to share. So if you have ever thought of doing a choral music blog but didn't really want to commit to keeping one going- here's your chance to just jump in and guest blog here. I get about 25-250 readers a day, FYI. Here is a link to a recent guest blog by Kira Rugen about her trip, as a member of Anuna, to sing for and interact with the children in the tsunami/nuclear radiation affected area of Japan. Kira did a great job communicating this story.

I am now taking inquiries and orders for commissions for the 2012-13 concert season. If you would like a new, exciting piece of music for your choir contact me. Commissioning (and also consider doing a consortium commission- it saves you money) is very rewarding for all and I do my best to make each piece special in some way. I am also entertaining inquiries for composer in residence situations- either in the Midwest area or anywhere, as a composer in cyber-residence I guess you could say (hey, with Skype anything is possible). I am also available for short residencies at high schools or colleges here and there around the country since I love to travel. Also, I am happy to work with you and your choir on a piece of mine via Skype (no charge of course). The piece doesn't have to be in perfect shape--this is about the process, yes? Skype is a great tool for us all and it's really great fun to interact and have a realtime relationship with a choir that might be 2,000 miles away from me!

So I hope you all have a great finish to your concert season- best wishes as you continue to make magic with soundwaves! And I'll leave you with this kwazy lil clip which has been going pretty viral this last week (so you may have already seen it):

1 comment:

  1. Hey, thanks Paul for the nice words concerning Chor Anno and your experiences in Portland/Vancouver. By the way, I've got your "A Million Miracles," and your "A New Commandment" on the reading list for our July WA ACDA session in Tacoma. Beautiful material...well worth a look by church choir directors, too.