Audio: 50% funded!

The other day, the Kickstarter campaign reached 50%, so here are several more clips, as promised!

“At Any Given Moment” from Modern Love Songs by Chester Biscardi

“Under the Silver Moon” from Three Lullabies by Zachary Wadsworth

Outtake 1: “An Argument”

Outtake 2: “An Argument”

And no recording session is complete without a 30 Rock reference that no one in the studio catches. (This is in reference to “At Any Given Moment” – the take that immediate precedes the one I’ve provided above!)

With 4 days left, we have $1,400 left to raise! Marc and I need your help in this last push to make sure that these beautiful songs get the best possible presentation! Please pledge and share with your friends!

Audio: 33% Funded

Since the Kickstarter campaign reached the 33% milestone, I’m releasing two new snippets of audio from the upcoming album:

“An Argument” from Three Poems of Thomas Moore by Darien Shulman

“Rockaby, lullaby” from Three Lullabies by Zachary Wadsworth

I’ll release the next set of audio (including my 30 Rock tribute) when we hit the 50% mark – so get funding, there’s only 15 days left! 😀

Such Gentle Rapture and Getting Things Done

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything substantial here, and I intend for that to change in the coming weeks as I start to publish a new set of Composer’s Guide posts. So stay tuned.

Late last month, I took stock of the ways that I’ve been handling my time as a full-time freelancer, and I wasn’t as pleased with what I saw as I wanted to be. I brainstormed a bit as to how I could rework the ways that I manage my time, and I think I’ve come up with a fairly elegant solution. I took a little trip to Staples to buy a large wall calendar and a stack of different colored Post-Its, and sat down to plan out the next thirteen months of my life in terms of what I’d like to have written by what dates. (And trust me, the list of things I want to write extends FAR beyond what I’m capable of in 13 months. There’s a spreadsheet lurking in the cloud with an ever-growing list of pieces that I intend to write.)

Now I have a colorful production calendar hanging near my desk to remind me every day what my weekly task is:


I’ve created a three-week rotation of short chamber works (with a smattering of art song thrown in for extra fun), Composer’s Guide articles, and a long-term, non-musical project that I probably won’t otherwise mention again on this blog.

The chamber pieces are part of a project that I started last year, but which quickly got put on the back-burner. The first part of the project is to write thirteen short (5-7 minute) duos for piano and each of the major orchestral instruments (minus percussion, but including saxophone), and the second part will be unveiled and explained in mid-November – I’m very anxious to get to that point.

I already have the flute/piano duo written – a 5’30” piece titled “Silverpoint” after the drawing technique, which I was first introduced to by composer Marty Boykan’s wife, Susan Schwalb, who I met at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. And this week I’m at work on the clarinet/piano duo, “Such Gentle Rapture”. Each new project starts on a Tuesday (Monday is my dedicated web design/research day), and I managed two write about two minutes of the piece yesterday. If I can maintain this rate of composition (and I’m a fast composer!), I should have the piece sketched out by tomorrow evening and engraved by Friday afternoon. But if I really shackle myself to the piano (look at me procrastinate by blogging about composing instead of actually composing…), I can have the whole thing done by tomorrow night. The title for this piece, by the way, comes from Barry Eisler’s spy thriller Killing Rain. Not my usual source for titles, but I’ve also got a handful of William Gibson-inspired titles coming up in this series of pieces.

In addition to the goals of my production schedule, I’m also in the process of starting a small record label with one of my long-time collaborators, Marc Peloquin. The purpose of the label is to record art song by living composers, and we’ll be going into the studio for our first disc in mid-November: a recreation of the concert we put on this past February titled That Dare Not Speak.


After that, we have our next four releases scheduled to come out over the following four years, and I can’t even tell you how excited I am to start getting all this music in the can!

OK, less words, more notes. Back to the piano!

It’s my blog, too!

The Composer’s Guide seems to have largely taken over my blog, which I’m mostly fine with, but I feel the need to inject a bit more “me” into it, if y’all don’t mind.

Life has been incredibly hectic the past few months, mostly in good ways.

Earlier this year, I arranged Growl for full orchestra, which I’m very proud of. It’s my first real orchestral piece (that I’ve actually finished and also claim in my catalog), which earns it the lion’s share of my pride (pun not intended). But it also marks a significant shift in my thinking about orchestration, both in terms of mechanics and plain ol’ confidence. My history with writing for the orchestra goes back almost 10 years at this point, and I’m sure that’s a whole blog post in and of itself (and maybe about six months of therapy, to boot). Suffice it to say that my confidence in this area was low to begin with, and was further undermined by a few ill-timed and careless remarks by a former teacher. Fortunately, studying with David Del Tredici and being with Darien Shulman (whose orchestrational chops are amazing) have cured most of my deficiencies in mechanics and confidence. So, anybody looking for a 5-minute, ostinato-driven, ominous-sounding orchestral piece with a title that’s both evocative and inspired by a spam email, gimme a call!

In late June, I spent a long weekend in Minneapolis for the ChoralConnections conference, sponsored by the American Composers Forum and Chorus America, and presented in tandem with CA’s annual conference. It was a great few days filled with wonderful presentations and panel discussions, really cool composers and choral folk, and maybe a bit too much booze. Of course, I totally dug on Bill Holub’s copyright / licensing / contracts / self-publishing presentations, and I wish that every composer had been at this 5-hour, intense session. I also wish that every composer had witnessed Stephen Paulus’s 20-minute, espresso-fueled rant on why every composer should charge more. (Lemme tell ya, that’ll light a fire under ya.) One of the most interesting parts of the conference was dubbed Composer-Conductor Speed Dating Sessions: 10 composers and 10 choral conductors in 3-minute speed-dating-style meetings. These were really great opportunities to meet new people who are genuinely interested in commissioning and programming new choral music – and there are a surprising number of them out there! Every one of those little three-minute meetings was about an hour too short! I was fortunate to continue to run into many of the conductors I met throughout the rest of the conference, which was very nice. I think, though, that the event that was the most fun and will probably be the most fruitful was after the conference had ended – an evening of dinner and drinks with a group of composers, conductors, publisher representatives, and all-around good people that lasted well into the night, and would surely have gone on longer except that the bar closed…. And I should give a special public thanks to two great friends for helping to make the trip possible for me: Ed Windels, an excellent composer and great friend; and Harriet Bart, an incredible visual artist and wonderful host and friend.

Then back to Minneapolis a few weeks later for the wedding of two good friends, Chris and Alissa Brody – I feel like I know Minneapolis far too well, now!

And now I’m in the middle of possibly the craziest month of the past few years. I’m in the middle of moving in with Darien – after having been together for 6½ years, we’re finally packing up our things and our cats and putting them all in the same apartment. On top of apartment hunting, packing, finding movers, and trying to remember what companies I need to change my address with, I’ve got six (SIX!) commissions, two websites I’m designing, an EP of my choral music that ‘m hoping to release in the next month (more on that soon), and a concert to plan/execute for the end of August (again, more soon).

Sheesh! Gotta get to work….


Well as of today, I can add another major project to my list of major projects for the coming year. Dr. Carlson, the Director of Choral Activities at ISU, is ready to proceed with recording a full disc of my choral music starting in the Spring! We’ve been talking about the project on and off since December, and now that she knows her choir for the year, and she knows what her other commitments will be, she’s ready to go ahead with the project. So amongst writing Only Air, raising money for it, planning the new concert series (which is finally starting to get off the ground), and hopefully recording my song cycles this Winter, I’ll be planning the choral disc as well.

Considerations for this project are:

a timeline for recording
my monetary commitments
the recording contract
how many pieces will be on the disc / how many new pieces I have to write to flesh out the disc

I’ve been considering these things for a while, and I haven’t come up with solutions for any of them quite yet. But now that the question is no longer academic, I can come up with a solution in no time.