Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sound Off! Orchestra Underground: Traditions and Transmigrations

I know you've been waiting for it... Now is your chance to tell us what you thought about the concert!



Here are a few questions to get the ball rolling...

- What surprised you most about the concert?
- Do you think that composers write differently when they are the soloist? How so?

- Which piece did you think was the most convincing? Why?

See what other people are saying and let us know what you think!

(By the way, if you filled out a SoundAdvice survey at the concert, look for your answers in the comments section!)

Photo: Erin and Colin Gee in rehearsal with ACO's Orchestra Underground

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Rehearsing...

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Quick post just to put up a few pictures - we're rehearsing all weekend for our concert on Monday (tickets at the Carnegie Hall website), pretty exciting stuff going on! I feel like we say this every time, but it is really amazing to see everything coming together after months of anticipation and preparation.It is amazing watching this orchestra shift from piece to piece. First a Chinese folk singer, then a jazz pianist riffing on 'Now's the Time' and finishing off the day qith a work dedicated to the traditions of the Navajo Indians. No rest for ACO musicians and never a dull moment...



Conductor Stefan Lano rehearsing with Huang Ruo and the orchestra


Percussionist Jonathan Haas rehearses Huang Ruo's Leaving Sao


Stefan Lano and pianist Donal Fox rehearse Peace Out


Donal Fox and Creative Advisor Derek Bermel

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Brotherhood/Sister Sol and Curt Cacioppo

Just a few days ago on November 20th we had a fantastic program with Curt Cacioppo and an amazing group of kids from The Brotherhood/Sister Sol. Curt's brand new work When the Orchard Dances Ceased will be premiered next week (!) at Zankel Hall, when Curt will perform with the orchestra, singing in the Navajo Indian style and playing traditional Navajo instruments. At the event with Brotherhood/Sister Sol, Curt demonstrated some of the music and brought his instruments for the kids to try out. The kids had a great time, and we are very excited to be welcoming them to the concert next week!

Curt with Navajo InstrumentStudent with Navajo Instrument
















Photos by Lyn Liston.

Monday, November 23, 2009

We've been busy! - Colin and Erin collaborate for our season-opener....

Wow, the last few months have been really busy here at ACO! Between gearing up for our season opener concert at Zankel Hall, education programming, submissions for our New Music Readings programs, and our Composers OutFront! series, its hard to imagine that just a few months ago it was summertime and we were blissfully getting ahead on projects...

On October 30th we had our first Composers OutFront! concert of the season, featuring creative siblings Erin and Colin Gee at The Whitney Museum in a performance and discussion. ACO will be premiering Erin's new work
Mouthpiece XVIII: Mathilde of Loci, Part 1 at our season opener concert on November 30th. (Psst - check out all of our season highlights here). For a "behind the scenes" look at Erin and Colin's collaboration process, as well as excerpts from the Composers OutFront performance, check out this video by our filmmaker Jeremy Robins:


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Afterthoughts

Wanted to say a quick note of thank you to the experience in Denver with the Colorado Symphony and EarShot. It's been two weeks and I'm still replaying the learning experience and new ideas that stemmed up from the whole process. It was a valuable experience to see musicians, conductors and composers work together to give birth to something new and beautiful. It was very precious to see the communications and feedbacks between the different parties, and to learn to observe the creation and execution of a new artwork from different perspectives. There are many details involved and it is not easy, but all the hard work is well worth the result because one of the most valuable asset in a genre is what's upcoming, young and alive.

A big thank you to the composer mentors, Robert Beaser, Derek Bermel, and Roberto Sierra for their guidance and mentoring through the process, conductor Delta David Gier for his feedback and dedicated work in interpretation, and the CSO and artistic director Alberto Gutierrez for their support. What's also exciting is to see a pretty good turn out from the audience part. The audience were enthusiastic when they entered the Boettcher Concert Hall with their smiling faces, looking eager to found out what's in store for them in these new work-in-progress. That's a testament to their respect, interest and openness to discover new voices. Also wanted to thank Lyn Liston and Ed Harsh for coming out there to give us mentoring and a presentation. The business side of composing is very important and the conversations and morning breakfasts (those were refreshing starts and one of the best memories!) were rewarding and informational.

Lastly, I wanted to thank my composer colleagues--what a great group we had! We were very encouraging and helpful with each other throughout the whole process, and were open to share our artistic comments with each other. Something to admire working with such a positive group.

-Angel

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A great experience

Just a quick note to say how much I learned from the Earshot readings with the CSO. I am still sorting through all of the feedback from the mentor composers, conductors, and orchestra musicians, and thinking hard about how to apply all of this information to my next orchestral piece!

I am so thankful for the amazing support we had at the readings. The organization of the readings was pretty much flawless, so special thanks to everyone who made that happen. Specifically, I'd like to thank the ACO folks (Michael Geller, John Glover, Jenny Kampmeier, and Lyn Liston), Ed Harsh from Meet the Composer, Alberto Gutierrez and Jessie Arian from the CSO, and of course the musicians of the CSO!

I thought Robert Beaser, Derek Bermel, and Roberto Sierra were really impressive - I knew they were very good composers, but I was grateful for their thoughtful analysis/criticism of the pieces, which is not always guaranteed with "well-known" composers.

I can hardly imagine more dedicated conductors than David Gier and Fergus Macleod. It was a pleasure working with Fergus on my piece, and I am still pondering some of the advice/comments that both conductors made about the four pieces, and about writing for the orchestra in general.

Finally, thanks to Angel, Jeremy and Yotam! Though all four of us seem to be quite different aesthetically, I also feel a "kinship" with you. I enjoyed getting to know your pieces, and am looking forward to hearing more of your music!

-Tim Sullivan

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Intensity

So I think that I survived the Earshot readings with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. I made it to Chicago for some decompression (via a summer rock festival) and I feel lighter and heavier at the same time. The reason that I feel lighter is because the readings are over, but I feel heavier due to a sense of accomplishment and knowledge gained.

Firstly I want to thank (in no particular order) Lyn, Michael, John, Roberto, Robert, Derek, Ed, Delta David, Fergus, and the performers and staff of the CSO for such an immensely gratifying experience. Although my piece was completed two years ago, the reading sessions finally provided the necessary opportunity to learn what I needed to learn. I was successful with some of my ideas and visions, and others left me flat on my face. Ironically (or ironically not?), it was the adherence to my ideas with a ham fist and vise-grip that caused the most problems.

That leads to my assessment of the nature of what ACO and Earshot are trying to accomplish. The least successful elements of my piece were the result of relying too much on my mind's ear and my ideology. The orchestra is a living, breathing, imperfect organism, and writing for orchestra requires skill, preparedness, and efficiency. Although imagination, sincerity and humanity are what I value the most in art, I learned firsthand that these facets must be focused and distilled properly with such a large and varied ensemble. If modern orchestral music is to evolve, then composers must have room to grow through hearing their music. So hats off to Earshot: we need you now more than ever!

Lastly, I want to thank Angel Lam, Tim Sullivan and Yotam Haber for their support. It was quite humbling (after all, humble pie is the very best flavor) to be chosen to participate with three incredibly talented, kind, interesting and supportive people. I felt a strong kinship with them and am quite floored to be one of their peers.

Oh, and let's not forget Jessie for her selfless early morning airport runs. She deserves a medal.

Bye Denver!

-Jeremy Podgursky

caption:
1. Jeremy Podgursky applauds the orchestra at the close of reading his work Our Bliss, It Comes in Waves.

Feeling the Love

It all seemed to happen so fast once it got started. For some time now, the ACO staff has been getting ready for the EarShot/Colorado Symphony New Music Readings. First there were the 180 scores that arrived in the office. Then there was the announcement about the four winners, followed by all sorts of detailed preparatory activities, followed by packing and getting to the airport to come out here to Denver.
What is truly wonderful about this is just how much all the work was worth it. First of all, there is the Colorado Symphony Orchestra who took on this tremendous project. They are a fantastic ensemble, and to have them embrace this initiative and offer the Readings is another reason to have more hope for the future of new music. And when I hear conductors David Gier and Fergus Macleod, mentor composers Derek Bermel, Robert Beaser, Roberto Sierra, VP for Artistic Planning Alberto Gutierrez, and Meet The Composer’s president Ed Harsh all supporting the four composers and genuinely wanting to help, it feels like we are indeed a community.
On Wednesday, after we arrived, we held a session primarily about promoting one’s music. It turned out that the question “how do I promote my music without offending the people I’m promoting it to” is still a hurdle for composers. (It’s good to know that composers care.) All of the folks listed above and a few others in the room did their best to convince these four that they can do it and offered “insider” advice on how to go about it. And if the advice is something the composers feel they can follow through on, I look forward to seeing what these four creative minds come up with.
-Lyn Liston, Director of Marketing, Education, and Outreach, American Composers Orchestra
caption:
1. Tim Sullivan (composer) and Fergus Macleod (conductor) review Tim's score before the second reading of his piece Polychrome.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mad Music Part 3: Angel Lam

Derek Bermel and Angel Lam take a break from the post-readings party hosted by Colorado Symphony to talk shop about Angel's work In Search of Seasons...

video

Reflections on a crazy day


Wow. What a long, exciting, stressful, and rewarding day. I thought all of the readings went pretty well, and the orchestra sounded simply fabulous! Working and talking through my piece with Fergus was great, and I am anxious to see if the small adjustments we made will be successful. The feedback on all of the pieces from conductors, players and mentor composers was really amazing - even if I didn't agree with everything that was said, it was great to hear so many different perspectives, and some things really resonated with me. I'm excited to hear all of the pieces again tomorrow!

-Tim Sullivan

caption:
1. Tim Sullivan making corrections and adjustments to his work following the first day of the reading.

Mad Music 2 with Jeremy Podgursky

Derek is back with Mad Music Part 2. Here he talks with composer Jeremy Podgursky immediately following his first read-through of Our Bliss, it Comes in Waves. Check it out...

video

after the first reading

No train-wrecks, thankfully, but lots of rhythmic issues, all my fault. David Gier was patient and quickly worked through untangling those knots. We lost a good 10 minutes on issues that could have been resolved had I been more careful with simplifying my rhythmic notation, but once the CSO grasped what I intended, they rocked hard.


-Yotam Haber

caption:
1. Delta David Gier conducting the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.

Thoughts from Ed Harsh...

We're lucky to have Ed Harsh, president of Meet The Composer, with us for these readings. Aside from giving time for individual consultations with each of the particiapnt composers in this reading, he's also tweeting about his experience hearing each of these new works as they roar through the hall. You can follow him here: http://twitter.com/MeetTheComposer
Or follow our hashtag for the event: #ESCOread

Here are a few of his reactions from hearing Jeremy Podgursky's Our Bliss, It Comes in Waves conducted by Delta David Gier:

-Pungent brass and bell scrambles vs. silences. Sustained strings transmute to smears of sliding color
-Shimmer and scramble again, two restrained roars. Chroma and economy
-
Delta David Gier on podium: an image of assurance and commitment. Attending to details, elegantly bringing out the music

20 minutes before go-time

Just heard Jeremy, Tim, and Angel's pieces read -- all were incredible, diverse, and beautifully (actually, miraculously) read by the CSO. Now we are on a 20 minute break and then it's my turn before the firing squad.

-Yotam Haber





caption:
1. fellow composer Jeremy Podgursky looks over Yotam's score Forward Ornament as the orchestra prepares to read it for the first time.

Mad Music! Part 1

Minutes before the first reading, Derek Bermel talks with composer Tim Sullivan and conductor Fergus Macleod about the preparations before heading into day 1 of the readings session...

video

And Away We Go...

It has actually started. After many long flights and grappling with time changes and altitude (this is the mile-high city after all...) I'm sitting in Boettcher Concert Hall listening to the orchestra's first pass through of Angel Lam's piece In Search of Seasons. Aside from the fact that the music unfolding is delicate, sensitive, and just plain lovely to hear, there is a palpable energy in the air. The musicians, the composers, all focusd on this very concentrated moment, the first stab at a new work.
Imagine what it felt like the first time Mahler threw a downbeat on his first "Titan" Symphony. Or the moment when Beethoven first heard three brash E-flat major chords blared out by an orchestra as he gave a sucker-punch to the symphonic world. Or better yet, don't. Come by tomorrow morning and hear and feel it for yourself. There is an undeniable energy to the first run-through of a new work... a terror, a joy... let's face it, it's just pretty darn cool.

-John Glover, Ops Manager

caption:
1. Delta David Gier leads the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

You Can't Miss the Bear


Well, here we are. Finally in Denver for the readings! After arriving last night, I've been spending the morning working with the folks at the Colorado Symphony and preparing for everyone's arrival. It is sort of wonderful how many different folks are descending on Denver today. All of the composers (both our young participants and the mentor composers who will be giving them critiques and guidance throughout the three days), industry folks like Ed Harsh from Meet the Composer and Michael Geller from ACO/EarShot, conductors David Gier and Fergus Macleod, and of course there are all of the hard working people here at the CSO who have so generously taken part in this reading. And then of course there are the students and new music enthusiasts in the area who are coming out of the woodwork to observe a seminar this evening and also the public readings on Friday morning at the concert hall downtown.

While I was trying to find my way to the performing arts complex (which is so fantastic) from my hotel, I got directions from a few folks. The consistent bit of information was "You can't miss the bear..." Indeed. On my way to the hall, walking down 14th street, I passed what might be my favorite piece of public art ever. I suppose he's holding up the convention center?
Looking forward to three terrific days!

-John Glover

Looking Forward to the Readings

I'm in Milwaukee, WI, visiting family for the last four days, spending every moment I can submerged in cool Lake Michigan. I Flew in from Rome, Italy, where I'm living now, on July 10th, and am flying to Denver tomorrow morning. After reading the blog posts from my fellow composers invited for the readings, I am relieved to hear that I'm not the only one that has nightmares about part extraction and the spectacular train wrecks that could happen....
I wrote this piece in May 2009, at the MacDowell Colony. I had just started reading Italo Calvino's fascinating American Lessons - the Norton Lectures that he wrote for Harvard - and was inspired to begin a series of works based on each of the lectures, which I believe are universal, not just for writers.
For me, the most nerve-wracking part of launching a piece into the world is the first time I hear musicians rehearse it. Sometimes performers don't like to have a composer present at a first rehearsal, and I completely empathize. It's very difficult to make sense of a fresh score, never played before.
What is a modern, major orchestra like, I ask myself. Is there still a sense of the old totalitarian regime that once reigned under Toscanini? If the 4th desk second violin player has a problem, does he whisper it to the 1st desk 2nd violin, who whispers it to the concertmaster, who gingerly asks the conductor? What will happen if I want to say something to the orchestra? Will I be able to?
I know I won't sleep tonight, nervous and excited for the adventure to come. I'll see you all in Denver!
Thank you to all the hardworkin', fantastic folks at ACO and in Colorado who have made this amazing event possible -- I am really honored to have been selected.

-Yotam

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The new work

I'm honored to be able to take part in the EarShot Colorado Symphony Orchestra Reading. This is a very exciting opportunity because I cannot wait to hear this piece come alive.

This work has many meaningful memories for me, and it was a joy to complete this work as I reminisce on the beauty of seasonal changes and the unforgettable events and people that are associated with these seasons. Here are my original inspirations behind the work:

"I was born in Hong Kong and moved to Huntington Beach, California as a child. Strictly speaking, these two cities never gave me any true feelings of the seasons. Recently, I had the opportunity to further my graduate studies in the American Northeast. There, I finally experienced the real delight of seasonal changes.

Should I tell you some of my favorites?

Winter is always a mystery. Star-shaped, diamond-shaped and square-shaped snowflakes fly like mist in the red sky; they explode into a wild dance in the silent air. The long stormy nights often send me into deep thoughts. The most memorable moment is closing the door to the harsh cold world behind me and being embraced by the warmth of home. The joy is beyond what words can describe.

The end of winter is marked by the first roar of thunder from the distant sky. It is Spring's thunder--her awakening call. Suddenly the earth cracks and splits, the whole world turns into a running fragrant stream. We must hurry, the wonders of the world are waiting for our discovery.

In autumn, trees one by one catch on a fiery red. The sky is crisp and the air is light. I like to take a break while the northern wind is still friendly, to travel into the mountains looking for bears.

Summer is most mesmerizing. I lay in nature's never-ending greens while I watch the afternoon sun shine through the leaves. The southern breeze massages my lazy soul and I slowly drift into a dream. I would spoil myself and nap until the street lamps light. I love summer long.

As time goes by, I begin to understand more about the seasons. Seasonal change is a witness to our lives. The more splendid the scenery, the more romantic the atmosphere, the more details you know of their stories, the easier you feel lonely. We desperately need someone with whom to share and witness these beautiful moments together.

Occasionally, I come back to Hong Kong. It is busy, noisy and crowded, as always. However, the nature of this city keeps me high-spirited.

During these years, Hong Kong has changed a bit, somewhat, somehow. She has added to herself a firework season – firework festival every night at the harbor.

If you are planning to enjoy the fireworks tonight, don't forget to bring along that special someone, somebody to share the joy of the season with you – to be a witness to the glory in your life.

Have you found your favorite season yet?"

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hey everybody-

We're very excited to welcome you to the Earshot readings in Colorado! It was inspiring to see so many great scores submitted; it's a shame they can't all be part of the readings. But we're very excited to hear these new works come to life, and we're all looking forward to two days of intense music-making and compositional growth.

Derek Bermel

Monday, July 6, 2009

Christmas in July

Coordinating the logistics and practicalities of performances and readings of new music can be exhilarating... it can also be quite a bit of intense and occasionally frustrating work. All of the detail work of coordinating schedules, tracking parts, making sure bowings are handled, can sometimes - for a brief second - distract from the excitement of what it is that is actually happening.
There is one part of this job that has consistently been fun, however. Once we've determined the selected participants I get the job of calling them to tell them they've been selected. This is indescribably fun. It is a little bit like telling someone they've just won a new car or the lotto. I've had every reaction from people when I've given them news to let them know they've been selected: ranging from stunned silence or quiet graciousness to out and out laughing/screaming/yelling. Our develolpment director once said to me "I'm so jealous that you get to do that! I want to call them! It's like you get to be Santa Claus for these composers!"
Im pretty ok with this image. Merry Christmas in July.

-John Glover, Ops Manager

Friday, July 3, 2009

Anticipation

Less than two weeks now until the CSO/EarShot readings, and I am admittedly having difficulty concentrating on anything else! I somehow managed to survive part extraction…is there anything more stressful, tedious and ultimately exhilarating than preparing orchestral parts? Even a week later, I still have irrational nightmares that a different measure was left out of every single part, and that somehow I failed to notice this in spite of multiple proof-readings! Alas, sometimes I have to open the files in Sibelius just to make sure…
My experiences with this piece are remarkably similar to what Jeremy Podgursky described in his post: it is my composition dissertation, which I worked on for about a year, and I have often wondered if it would ever receive a performance or reading. Though I have written other pieces for small orchestra, this was my first completed composition for full symphony orchestra, and though it was strenuous, I enjoyed working on it more than any other piece in recent memory.
I wasn’t required to write an orchestral work for my dissertation, and many people suggested that I write something more “practical.” While I understood the risks, I felt like it was necessary – I love orchestral music, and had an urge to write something big (relatively speaking, anyway). Upon completion, I dutifully submitted the piece to reading sessions and competitions, often with a MIDI recording (that I spent way too much time on considering how poorly it represents the piece!). After several rejections and a couple of honorable mentions, I figured the piece had just about run its course without a performance…and then the EarShot readings were announced!
I suppose at this point I am quite biased, but even back in November I thought the EarShot readings were a great idea. First off, I was amazed when I was told there was no need to send another score since I had already applied to the ACO Underwood readings – just fill out a brief online application, and voila, it’s done! In fact, it was so easy I completely forgot about it until I read about the Memphis readings after the fact! When John Glover called about the Colorado readings, I think my first reaction was something like a combination of disbelief (really?) and relief (I’m actually going to hear this piece?), and then as it settled in I started to get really excited. Like Jeremy said, I feel very fortunate to be selected.
Well, I better try to get back to work…looking forward to July 16-17!
-Tim Sullivan

Thursday, July 2, 2009

First thoughts

Being chosen for the Earshot/CSO readings has already provided enough excitement for me that I might be too tired to actually go to Colorado. The piece that I submitted was my masters thesis, finished in 2007 and cleared of two years worth of dust before being stuffed in an envelope. I figured before I received the call that I would probably never get to hear the piece, so I guess that my internal naysayer doesn't believe in the concept of delayed returns. Needless to say, I feel incredibly lucky to have been chosen to participate.

And I surely could not ask for a better potential learning experience with regards to composing for the orchestra. To work alongside experienced composers, conductors, and a seasoned, professional orchestra will help me understand the mistakes I undoubtedly made when I composed the piece (I have spent the last two years looking for someone else to blame, but no one ever came to mind). All of this mixed with an altitude of 5000 feet will surely leave permanent imprints, so I have ordered a crash helmet with a built-in powdered wig.

Part of my own personal whirlwind surrounding this opportunity has been the preparation of the parts for performance. There was something strange about going through the score and the parts again, a re-connection to what I was experiencing when I was actually writing the piece. I made a promise to myself that I would not edit any of the content of the piece while extracting the parts, and I am glad that I stuck to it. Maybe I am getting a little too mystical or indirectly acknowledging the existence of elves, but I feel like I would have tainted something by altering what I composed back then (kind of like revving up the DeLorean to try and create a slightly less frustrating Senior Prom memory). I am certainly not the only composer that has experienced such a connection whilst editing, so share and share alike (c'mon folks: we're bloggin' here).

Anyway, mine computer arm tireth. T-minus fifteen days. Thanks so much to John Glover, ACO, the CSO, and everyone else that made this possible. More to come.

by Jeremy Podgursky

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Scores scores scores...

One of the most incredible things about opening up a call for scores is that you realize how many composers there really are out there. Unlike singers, performers, actors (some of whom are also composers...) the act of composition happens almost entirely behind closed doors and in solitude. When ACO, or EarShot, sends out the word that they are accepting submissions for a reading the response never fails to surprise. My phone starts ringing constantly with people calling from every state and towns I've never even heard of. There are composers everywhere.
It brings to mind a concert I went to a year or so ago which featured Tania Leon conducting the Chicago Sinfonietta. The idea was for her to lead the group in a survey of women composers. She did one better and focused on living women composers. Between pieces she talked to the audience in her typically casual and inviting way. One thing she said struck me then, and seems even truer now that I'm receiving scores for these orchestra readings: "Composers are everywhere," she said. "They are your mailman, your accountant, and your next door neighbor."
Without being too dreamy-eyed about it, as I look over the stacks and stacks of scores that are sitting on the floor in my office it is both surprising and encouraging to know that there are so many people working with such dilligence and craft on new music for the orchestra. Teaching an old dog new tricks.
-John Glover, Ops Manager

images:
1. some of the scores submitted for the Colorado EarShot Readings in my office.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Memphis in Lisbon?

It is now more than two weeks since our Memphis readings and almost everyday I receive an email from someone that was part of that incredible experience!

Now in Lisbon, I met with my fellow-Memphis-colleague Patrício da Silva for a dinner the other day. Have to say, I started missing the group! So, I came back to the blog and read all the notes from all of us. And then I realized something was missing from my entry!!!
I did not say goodbye to Linda Golding and (my fault) the names of Michael Geller and John Glover were not present on my previous entry...SORRYYYYYY!!! (I thought I had put them there...)

So, dear Michael Geller, John Glover and Linda Golding, I send you a big THANK YOU for all your support and very kind words! It was a pleasure to meet you.

From Lisbon with love,
Andreia Pinto-Correia

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Memphis Mea Culpa?


The Saga of the Dotted Eighth Rest from Day 2 of the Earshot Memphis Readings

Call it a flaw or tick in my personality, but unresolved issues, no matter how insignificant, manage to gnaw at me to the point of distraction. À propos of the discussion that I initiated in my typically heavy-handed way regarding the use of dotted rests in simple meters, here’s the deal, as far as I can determine after some rummaging through my personal score library. In simple meter (4/4, 3/4, etc., with the quarter note as the unit of beat) a single sixteenth-note that falls on a beat may be followed by either a dotted-eighth rest or a sixteenth rest and an eighth rest combination, in that order. Contrary to what I stated in our meeting, it is not a question of one being more correct than the other or one being used in a newer practice and the other being used in an older practice. It is also not a question of frequency of use (e.g., pieces having many instances of single sixteenth-notes on downbeats are not weighted toward the use of dotted-eighth rests, and pieces with few instances of single sixteenth-notes are not weighted toward sixteenth and eighth rest usage). One method over the other is also not a consistent publisher’s practice (the examples below confirm this) or a publisher’s practice with a single composer (compare A2 and B2 below).
A few examples to consider:

A. Use of sixteenth and eight rest combinations

1.) Arnold Schoenberg, ‘Pierrot Lunaire,’ Universal Edition, Nr. 5334, 5336, p. 5, m. 7, piano

2.) Serge Prokofieff, ‘Symphony No. 4, first version, op. 47,’ Boosey and Hawkes HPS 1366, p. 59, m. 117, clarinet parts

3.) Milton Babbitt, ‘Arie da Capo,’ C.F. Peters 66584, p. 2, m. 7, flute

4.) Béla Bartók, ‘3rd String Quartet,’ Boosey and Hawkes 9042, p. 19, four before rehearsal 29, violin 1, viola, violoncello parts

5.) György Ligeti, ‘Le Grand Macabre,’ Schott ED 8522, p. 2, rehearsal 1, bassoons and trombones parts

B. Use of dotted-eighth rests

1.) Igor Stravinsky, ‘The Rite of Spring,’ Kalmus and International scores, one after rehearsal 33 through rehearsal 34, numerous instances in the flute parts.

2.) Serge Prokofieff, ‘Symphony No. 2, op. 40,’ Boosey and Hawkes HPS 1111, pp. 160-161, numerous instances in the trumpet parts

3.) Igor Stravinsky, ‘Dumbarton Oaks Concerto in Eb,’ Schott, p. 10, rehearsal 9, violins part

4.) Elliott Carter, ‘A Mirror on Which to Dwell,’ AMP 7701, p. 33, m. 15, soprano part and violoncello part

5.) Pierre Boulez, ‘Memoriale,’ Universal Edition No. 18657, p. 20, one before rehearsal 28, violin 3 part

Clearly, publishing practice tells us that either method is acceptable. I have observed that whichever method is used, it remains constant for the duration of the piece. For your own practice, I advise that you select one way and apply it consistently. If you are ‘on the fence’ about it, I suggest using dotted-eighth rests. They produce cleaner results.

-Michael Gandolfi

P.S. As an undergraduate, I learned notation from Donald Martino, who was meticulous in every aspect of his composition. Although he practiced and preached the use of dotted-eighth rests, he also was fond of citing the Universal Edition of Berg’s ‘Wozzeck’ as the best resource for resolving notational issues. This edition uses the sixteenth and eighth rest combinations (!) Chalk-it-up to another example of the vagaries of practice and education in this wonderful art of ours!!
P.P.S. Isn’t it fitting that ‘Pierrot Lunaire’ and ‘The Rite of Spring’ employ opposing methods? Serendipity no doubt, but amusing nonetheless.

images:
1. Christian Baldini's score.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Beale Street Blues


At the close of the readings all of the participants headed downtown to get a taste of the music (and the food) in Memphis beyond the orchestra. The first stop was the famed Beale Street where the composers were finally able to relax after two intense days of readings and take in some of the local bands, including the high-energy rockabilly band The Dempseys. What a great way to close the readings!







images:
1. The participant composers on Beale Street.
2. The Dempseys playing at the Blues City Cafe.

Monday, May 25, 2009

No Wasted Time


When we met Mr. Michael Geller (executive director for ACO and staff for EarShot) after the long flight, this was the first thing he said.
"If anybody wants to go to the restroom you should do now, because you won't have time... for two days!"
He was right. Everything moved so quickly with consistent learning and inspiration. It was not just the reading, but the whole thing was a full course. Since I have to sacrifice my family whenever I travel, I like to make most of it when I am there. Indeed the sacrifice was worth it!
I thank everyone I met sincerely from the bottom of my heart.

-Jean Ahn

images:
1. Jean Ahn with Mentor Composer Michael Gandolfi while conductor David Loebel conducts the initial read-through of her work Salt.

Wonderful Atmosphere


What a great pleasure to have been part of the first EarShot Network Readings!

The Memphis Symphony Orchestra conducted by their Music Director David Loebel did just a terrific job. Everybody in the orchestra had a wonderful approach to the music in front of them. Each of the four composers had a dramatically different approach to their work and this did not prevent the musicians from trying their very best and performing at a truly high level. Maestro Loebel knew the scores inside out and inspired the players with his professionalism.

A truly wonderful atmosphere. A great honor to have been a part of this, and I feel very grateful to have met Melinda Wagner and Michael Gandolfi. They are both great composers and
wonderful teachers. Their wise comments will be very much remembered!

A big pleasure to have met my three colleagues. All very talented composers and great people. We had fun together. To everybody involved in this: thank you so much for making this experience such a great one!

-Christian Baldini

images:
1. Christian Baldini speaking to the orchestra during the reading of his work while Maestro Loebel listens.
2. Concertmaster Susanna Gilmore tuning the orchestra before reading Christian's piece.