I’ve been a bad boy lately, and have been neglecting my bloggerly duties. This has mostly been due to the wrapping up of my academic career at CCNY. Last Monday, I passed the Oral Examination in music analysis, concluding my academic responsibilities at the school. And two weeks prior, I submitted my thesis (at least a moment). Today is, in fact, the Commencement Ceremony, which I happily forewent in favor of sitting home and getting some work done (and not paying nearly $100 for the cap/gown/sash/etc that I’ll only wear once, then stick in a closet somewhere and never look at again).
So after two (kinda long) years, I have a Master of Arts in Music. Now I can… do… stuff…. Ok, I knew going into it that it was another piece of paper for my mother to put in the safe where she keeps all the important family things. It allowed me to study with David, which was my primary goal (the remainder, I mostly saw as jumping through hoops). And it’s a stepping stone to the doctorate, which I intend to do in about five or six years. I’m in no hurry to start – I’m all schooled out for the time being. But the doctorate will allow me to teach when I’m good and ready (I’m thinking my mid-40s) so that I can have some kind of pension in my old age. Such a practical plan!
Now that I’m done, I can start to concentrate again on things that fell by the wayside during the past two years, namely the Tobenski-Algera Concerts. It’s now been over a year since the last T-A concert, and I’m none too happy about that fact. We’ve had a few abortive attempts at relaunching the Series, but any number of random obstacles got in the way: scheduling conflicts with performers, difficulties getting commissioned composers to actually write the pieces that were commissioned (another rant for another day!), and (not least) the “school mentality” I got into that slowed certain areas of my productivity/motivation to a crawl. But we’re currently planning a NYC Gay Pride Week concert as a follow-up to our 2007 concert, which was such a success. More details on that as everything coalesces.
Plus, there’s another art song concert in the works for the early fall, and a concert with the ensemble Percussia.
I can also start applying to colonies for times other than the Summer, when it’s nearly impossible to get in. I love art colonies, so it’s been painful not having the ability to go when I’d like to. Or, really, at all, since everybody and their brother applies for the summer sessions when nobody’s teaching, leaving no room for young’uns like me.
Performance-wise, I premiered Casey Hale’s “Todesfuge” on May 12 with pianist Mia Elezovic at the CUNY Graduate Center’s Elebash Hall. It was a fun performance, and I look forward to the opportunity to sing it again.
I also sang an orchestrated version of “Permanently” from at least a moment for the CCNY Musicians Accord readings. The orchestration was a little difficult to get started, I’ll admit. I found it incredibly difficult to distance myself from my initial harpistic conception of the piece. When I brought in a first draft to David, he spent the majority of that lesson more than a little angry at my horrible orchestration (though an hour later he was praising my orchestration of a MacDowell piano piece, proving my point that the problem was a matter of personal distance from the original piece). The final result, though, was quite nice: some great shifts in color, and good use of the tutti ensemble.
And compositionally, I’ve finished the first and second movements of the Glukh piece. End-of-semester business forced me to put the piece aside for a few weeks, so I’m picking it back up next week. I completely rethought the Fanfare movement, and the music just exploded out of me. I originally wanted a full-ensemble fanfare, but got mired in canonic silliness that killed the movement. So, I took a step back and noticed that I hadn’t used the violins at all in the Chorale Trio preceding the Fanfare. Why not write a fanfare for the two violins? It’s a fresh sound, and completely unexpected, as far as fanfares go! The thought that completely freed me up, though, was about timing – I had originally wanted each movement to be roughly 3 minutes. So, why not cut it down to one? A one-minute fanfare for two violins. Perfect! In a matter of days, I had finished the first draft of the movement, and I finished the revisions within a week. Now, I’m waiting to start the Aria, which will be for the full ensemble.
I’ll wrap up with a tiny rant. Yesterday, I got back my materials from one of the competitions I entered this Spring (none of which I even managed to place in, by the way). Now, I don’t put the competitions’ return addresses on my SASEs, so I’m not entirely sure which competition these materials were from, but based on the piece I sent, and the fact that the score was clearly an ‘anonymous submission’, I have a pretty darned good idea which competition this was from. I won’t name names, but I will say that it wasn’t one of the big ones. Now, I’ve heard a lot of composer friends complain endlessly about the way that competitions treat applicants’ materials. (Poorly.) And I’ve had more than one score come back bent, scuffed, or with stains that weren’t there when I mailed it off to be judged. But never before have I had part of my application disappear. I mailed off a score and a CD. The CD, I put in a nice little jewel case to keep it from getting scratched or broken en route. I got back the score and the CD, but not the jewel case. Did the jewel case get lost? Broken? Accidentally put in with someone else’s application? Or just stolen? Regardless, I don’t care. The fact that the jewel case was missing shows a real disregard for applicants’ materials. I paid to have that anonymous score printed and bound, I bought the blank CDs, CD labels, and jewel cases, spent around $10 in round-trip postage, and paid an entry fee for this competition. Not to mention the time I spent considering my application, compiling all of the materials, and standing in line forever at the post office to get the application mailed by the postmark deadline. I think I deserve to get all of my materials back in the same condition that I sent them in. If the postal service damages my materials en route, that’s between me and them, but when a piece of my application (specifically, the only piece I can even think of reusing, since an anonymous score is worthless and [I think] a complete waste of my money) doesn’t even make it into the return envelope that I provided, there’s a real problem. Rant over.