During my lunch break at the office yesterday, I called my friend Chet Biscardi to start picking his brain about some of the elements of the personal statement for the JFund application. I’ve decided that I want some outside insight, as it were, for the “development and direction of your work” portion. I think I have a fairly solid view of the direction of my work, but I feel the need to get other musicians’ input on how they perceive my development.
The big bullet point that I’ve come up with for the development of my work is that it’s gotten to use a greater economy of material – I definitely make more, and more effective, use of my musical material, and develop it much further.
Chet offered a little nugget that I hadn’t considered: since he’s known me, he’s noticed a trend toward larger forms and larger instrumentations – a trajectory toward writing for orchestra. He saw me as a composer of art song, choral works, and chamber pieces, but considers me having grown beyond that designation. Chet also noted that the Brush Creek scheduling disappointment wasn’t necessarily all bad – I might have an easier time there once I’ve already gotten most of the piece written so that I’m not facing a blank page the moment I arrive. (Of course, I already have some minor sketching done from months ago, but he’s right – I would essentially be confronted with a blank page.)
So, after work, I walked over to Therapy for their 2-for-1 happy hour (vodka cranberry, thank you) and to write up my latest draft of a personal statement. I’ve written several drafts before, toying with different tones, and I’m sure I’ll write at least a few more before I finally settle down to do the final version. I only glanced at what I’d written before, and launched into a new version. The previous draft took a more demonstrative tone – mentioning specific pieces and how I view their importance to my development so far: Elegy and Drinking Alone with the Moon were a dual pivot point – Elegy was the last piece of its kind: wandering, low on inter-movement musical repetition; and Drinking marked a new phase: tighter, leaner, more prone to develop musical material. Consequently, I consider Drinking to be my first “mature” work. But maybe that’s too much for a one-page statement? I mean, I’m not being asked to write a full breakdown of my oeuvre. But it demonstrates the point I’m attempting to make re my musical economy and developmental…, well, development. Growth – yeah, that’s better.
The newer draft is a bit more condensed, and concentrates on two main themes: Focus and Range. I spent the development and direction sections talking about how each is characterized by both of these ideas. With Development, I associated the economy of material with Focus, the expansion of form and scale with Range, and my move toward themes that are more intensely personal with Focus. And in Direction, I narrowed my points down to two rather than the traditional three (Focus?) and discussed a widening of my sources of inspiration such as Craigslist, sci-fi novels, and pop songs (Range); and my move toward being more aggressive in finding or creating opportunities for my music (Focus).
The latter is obviously a developmental thing, as well, considering as the Tobenski-Algera Concert Series (may it rest in peace) started five years ago. But considering as I’m making different sorts of efforts to find/create opportunities, I feel as though it’s more of a directional thing in this case.
At this point I’d finished my two drinks and decided that another two would be too much a) for a Monday, b) for my diet, and c) for my ability to continue writing, so I called it a night.