Well, 2013 was most certainly an interesting year, and I’m still working to regain my footing from decisions made around this time last year, and enacted in April.
For those who are unaware, I left my day job at New York City Center on April 16 to pursue the life of a full-time freelance artist. As expected, it’s been a hectic time, and I still have lots of work to do to make the finances work out right. Fortunately, I’m positioned to make some significant strides in that direction in the next few months. True to form, I always have plans in motion, and yet more plans waiting in the wings should I need them.
Compositionally, 2013 was an unprecendentedly productive year. I finished the composition of Only Air on New Year’s Day, and orchestrated madly throughout January. In February, I wrote two new choral works, Voices (de la Mare) and They Lie at Rest (Rossetti) – the former written for the ISU Madrigal Singers, and the latter for the East Ridge High School Concert Choir in Claremont, FL and the Lake Minneola High School choirs. At the end of January, I was notified that I’d been commissioned to write a work for the inaugural concert of Providence Premieres, and from March 1 to March 10 composed the 12 minute, three song cycle Without a Philosophy on texts by my friend Elizabeth Seydel Morgan (who I met at the VCCA) for soprano, violin, and harp. Days after emailing off the finished score of the cycle, I flew down to Dallas for the ACDA national conference to do some networking, and when I wasn’t sitting in concerts, wandering the exhibits, or drinking with composers or choir directors, I created the parts of Only Air, and emailed them off shortly after returning to NYC. (My second day back from the conference was when I put in my notice at NYCC, though I’d made the decision in late December.) Spurred to action to write a women’s choir piece by a director I’d met at ACDA, I composed Sunset: St. Louis (Teasdale) in a little under 32 hours in late March on a visit to Darien’s parents’ house in Montauk.
April was a blur of travel, performances and finishing up my tenure as Accounts Payable at NYCC. Without a Philosophy was premiered the day after my birthday by soprano Blythe Walker, violinist Alexey Shabalin, and harpist Hyunjung Choi; They Lie at Rest was premiered on April 23; and Only Air was premiered on April 25 by the ISU Symphony Orchestra, conductor Glenn Block, and soprano Michelle Vought.
During the week of the Only Air premiere, I was in residence at ISU, where I taught a few composition lessons, gave a some talks on the piece itself and on “Making a Career in the Arts”, and had a wonderful chance to catch up with the faculty at my alma mater. The career talk was a ton of fun – an hour and a half spent addressing a packed classroom of students and faculty from all over the College of Fine Arts: composers, singers, instrumentalists, visual artists, actors, playwrights, scenic designers – every area of the College was represented, which felt damned good, I’ll tell you.
I visited family briefly after the premiere, and started work on a flute and piano duo – Silverpoint -, and finished it in late May. Over the Summer, I composed the bulk of a choral setting of Tennyson’s Now Sleeps the Silver Petal, and nearly finished another choral work on Longfellow’s It Is Not Always May, as well as made significant progress on two other chamber works – an oboe/piano duo that is still in search of a title, and a Prelude for violin and piano.
May also saw a round of fairly minor revisions to Only Air based on the rehearsals and premiere. As expected, I made a few little orchestrational boo-boos, but all were easily corrected. (Yes, a solo trumpet can be heard over strings, but maybe mark the strings at piano rather than mezzo forte when the trumpet is in its lower register…) And I’ve also created two additional versions of the piece for reduced forces. So, if you know an orchestra that’s into supporting the LGBT community… (BTW, did you know that there are zero orchestras that have made an It Gets Better video? Football and hockey teams are doing it, but arts organizations…not so much. The shame!)
May also saw some pesky health issues and a bit of oral surgery – I had all five of my wisdom teeth out. Yes, you read that right – I had FIVE wisdom teeth instead of the usual three! The recovery period wasn’t as long or horrible as I’d expected, but it definitely kept me inactive for a while!
Much of the remainder of the year has been spent doing web design work – currently my primary means of support. I redesigned Chester Biscardi’s website in the Fall, created a mobile version of Ricky Ian Gordon’s site, incorporated an elegant form of commerce into Drew Hemenger’s site, started work on sites for three new clients, and completely overhauled my own site. Shameless plug: if you’re in the market for a new website or a redesign to your existing one, I’m currently taking on new clients!
I have a few other projects that I’m nearly ready to announce, so stay tuned over the next month!