2014 was such an exciting year! I think 2015 will be even more exciting.
I’ll be participating in three conferences in 2015. First, I will be sharing a bit of my research on composition pedagogy at Michigan Music Conference in January. That same weekend, I will be traveling to Northern Illinois University for the North American Saxophone Alliance Region V Conference where two of my pieces are being performed: A Dance Not To Be Danced To for sax quartet and Lament for alto sax and fixed media. Then, in March I and three of my comrades from Central Michigan University will be participating in the Society of Composers, Inc. Region VI Conference at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. There, my sax quartet will be performed and I will be doing a paper presentation on my composition pedagogy research titled, The Necessary Skills for Undergraduate Composition Students. I will make the paper available on this website soon.
One more fun thing I will be doing in the first half of 2015 is participating in the Grand Rapids Community College Alumni Composition Concert. I am so proud to have attended this school right out of high school. At the time of my attendance, it was one of only seventeen community colleges in the entire country with an accredited music program. They had incredible professors that truly helped me figure out my musical life.
In January I will begin teaching music at Delta College. My first two courses are Contemporary Guitar Techniques and History of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
In November, I curated the composition studio recital at Central Michigan University and I believe it was quite a success! We had a very eclectic group of pieces ranging from the avant-garde to the populist. For this concert I wanted to give the audience an intimate experience. Rather than having the audience in the hall and the performers on the stage, we set up chairs directly on the stage so they could be close to the performers and composers. If you aren’t afraid of having the sweat of the performers hit you then you’re sitting too far away! This also forced audience members to sit closer to one another and I’ve found this always makes for a more electric experience. Sitting close to performers gave the audience a chance to have a personal connection to the composers. The composers spoke directly to the audience about themselves and their work and being so close to someone who is sharing something so personal helps to make a close connection for what would otherwise be a distant relationship. Though we had set up close to eighty chairs on stage, we ran into a very fortunate problem when so many people showed up to the concert that the hall was over half full as well! But that was okay, we write music for people to hear it, so the more the merrier!
One of my pieces that was performed is called Junipers and is based on a poem written for me by Dr. Allegra Blake. The poem is about the conflict between Palestine and Israel. A recording of the performance will be posted soon. Here is a great picture taken of me and all of the performers after our final rehearsal:
Recently, my good friend and excellent audio engineer Ethan Fitzpatrick recorded my piece Exoplanet. Writing, rehearsing, performing, and recording this piece was such a good experience. It has definitely been one of my favorite pieces to work on. I think that is because it was written with the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll. The piece is for drumset, electric guitar, tuba, and trombone. One of the things I miss most about playing rock ‘n’ roll is the collaborative experience, and with this piece I was lucky enough to enlist the help of good (and very talented) friends of mine who were patient enough to give this piece a lot of rehearsal time. The piece could’ve been performable after two or three rehearsals, but I really wanted to give this piece time to grow. I put notes on a page, but that was merely the seed from which the piece grew. I encouraged all the players to give me input and improvise throughout the rehearsals. Because the piece was not terribly difficult and because of the multitude of rehearsals, each time we got together was just fun. It was never a stressful situation in which we had performances coming up on us that we were not ready for, it was just a group of friends getting together to jam. Classical musicians and composers sometimes forget to have fun, so the whole process was quite refreshing. Take a listen to the final product: