Wow what a productive month. I took a week off from my job to focus full time on composing. Wow the amount of work I got done.
Songs of the open road was written for a concert happening on Whibey Island as part of New Music on the Rock happening on June 23rd.
Songs of the Open Road comes from Walt Whitman’s poem appearing in his 1856 collection Leaves of Grass. When Whitman wrote this poem, the United State of America was undergoing extensive westward expansion. Little did they know that these small cities would grow into the west coast metropolises we know today that are vitally important to the democratic conversation in our country today. This edition consists of the first four sections of the poem (with 15 sections in all) creating four songs.
For these pieces, I updated the setting to imagine a road trip through the open road of the United States in 2018. A time when it seems as if everything is terrible. A time when sometimes we just want to take a road trip into the country to forget our problems. But the crumbling infrastructure in our cities, both physical and social, sneak into our psyche. When we want to explore a closeness to the earth, we are so consumed with the business of other people, we lose touch with what is really important with our own individual existence -- becoming good citizens of the earth and caring for one another as people.
The other two pieces are written for Sarah Bassingthwaight, and Storm Benjamin for flute and percussion for an event that will benifit the Sound Ensemble, an orginzation that I support and serve on the board. They were a lot of fun, and I was only given a week to compose them, (as opposed to the other piece which took me nearly 2 months)
Improvisation & Caprice
Upon talking with the performers, I felt like there was this element of Improvisation to the project that they wanted me to compose, yet there were these sudden bursts of energy that sometimes came from nowhere. It reminded me of a piece by composer Eugène Bozza Improvisation et Caprice, which asks the composer to play the first section (the improvisation) –avec le caractère d’une improvisation meaning with the character of an improvisation, followed by the second section (the caprice).
In this piece, I put the improvisation throughout the piece, with sudden bursts of energy. The definition of Caprice is “a sudden and unaccountable change in mood or behavior.” That was definitely my goal.
The cover art is a rose given to my by comedian Bill Murray, who is known for his improvisation. I had the opportunity to meet him in Seattle in December 2017 while he was on tour. I was asked to turn pages for the pianist, and during the show, they messed with me on stage without telling me beforehand so that I would look visibly shocked. At the end of the show he throws roses into the audience, and saves the last one for me. I saved the rose for a memory, and managed to take this picture at the time. Bill Murray is the epitome of improv & caprice.
not a moment too soon, is an idiom that I think plays a major role in our lives at this very moment in history. I think all of us are fairly anxious in regards to the state of the world at this moment. I think most of us are hoping for a savior of some sort just in the nick of time.
The cover art is of an incredibly saturated moon taken by the composer. Sometimes he wishes he could just escape to the moon and start a new colony without the social and political issues of earth.
As far as what is next, I have a fairly busy summer coming up. I will be moving to East Lansing Michigan where I will be working on a Doctorate in Music Compostiion and Theory from Michigan State University, where I will be a Graduate Assistant, teaching Theory & Aural Skills.
At the same time I will be completing the remaining 11 songs for Songs of the Open road, and will hopefully premiere that with Sammie Gorham in 2019 sometime. I will also be reducing my Opera Christopher downt to 3 vocalists and Piano, and will be performed by Opera Muse in 2019.
All of the new pieces are now available on my website for purchase.