An Upcoming Concert: 2/18/14

That Dare Not Speak: Love Songs by Gay American Composers
The Duplex Cabaret Theatre
61 Christopher St ( @7th Ave ), NYC
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Program is approx. 1 hr.

$12 + 2 drink minimum (sodas count)

Come join me and pianist Marc Peloquin for this post-Valentine’s Day concert of love songs by David Del Tredici, Chester Biscardi, Darien Shulman, Zachary Wadsworth, and yours truly!

Be sure to make your reservation here, as seating is limited!

The Composers Now Festival celebrates living composers, the diversity of their voices and the significance of their musical contributions to our society. During the month of February, the Festival brings together dozens of performances presented by venues, ensembles, orchestras, opera companies, dance companies and many other innovative events throughout New York City. Experience the sounds and get to know the creators behind the music. From jazz to indie, from classical to electronic and beyond, join us on a sonic journey through the landscape of the arts of our time. Composers will be in attendance at all events and will be interacting with audiences. Composers Now is a project partner of The Fund for the City of New York. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the ASCAP Foundation, the Cheswatyr Foundation and the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.


“Matter-of-fact” may, in fact, be my favorite score indication. “Clangorous” being a close second.

(Only Air (2011-2013))

(“Permanently” from at least a moment (2009))

Similar markings work, too:

(“inevitable” from echoes (2008))

(“Kenneth’s Death” from echoes (2008))

It may be my reserved, Midwestern upbringing. Or it may be that I prefer to let the text and music carry themselves, without the singer “getting in the way”. I also tend not to choose texts that imply histrionics. Subtle emotion seems to be my thing, musically. Understatement.

There’s nothing particularly earth shattering about this idea. It’s something I’ve known about myself and my music for a long time, but thinking about Only Air brings up the idea again for me.

I almost felt you
shudder this morning
as I dreamed of death

I can’t imagine this line – or anything from the poem, save four of the last lines – being recited or sung in any manner other than completely straight-forward. There’s obvious, deep, gut-wrenching emotion behind the poem, but it carries itself so simply, so beautifully that any to attempt to “interpret” it or put any additional “feeling” into it would cripple the words.

Similarly, “Kenneth’s Death” from echoes can’t be anything other than unsentimental. It is, of course, an incredibly sentimental song, but if I ever heard a singer put anything more than a sort of sad humor behind the words “He’s dead,” I might barf. (Or at least roll my eyes so hard that I get a peek at my brain.)

Sometimes the most complex of emotions can only be expressed through utter simplicity.