Friday, April 9, 2010

The Nashville Experience

This is Dan Temkin checking in again. I am writing after two days of hard work with Maestro Guerrero and the Nashville Symphony. It has been an amazing and intense process to bring to life four challenging and stylistically varied works within a few days time. I am truly amazed and impressed by how successful the final performances of each piece went, and we owe many thanks to Maestro Guerrero’s efficiency on the podium as well as to the professionalism of the orchestra who worked steadily with an open mind in order to perform our works so musically.

On Day 1 we were thrust into a live working rehearsal where the orchestra was hearing our music for the very first time; it was essential to work quickly and to try to understand what problems the orchestra could fix on their own and what problems we needed to point out verbally in order for the musicians to understand our compositional ideas. The musicians had prepared the music very well prior to the first rehearsal and many solo passages and complex percussion set-ups had been completely dissected before the first downbeat. This helped things run very smoothly and as problems arose, members of the orchestra asked concise, direct, questions, in order to solve any issues that were hindering the best performance of our music. After the initial reading we had a meeting with Maestro Guerrero, the librarians, and a few select players from the orchestra, where many suggestions were made to improve our pieces. This session was extremely helpful, but also very intense, as many of the details of our pieces were scrutinized in order to help us understand how our music could be made stronger.

On Day 2 we went back into the beautiful Schermerhorn Hall ready to move forward with our music. From the very first notes played by the orchestra it was clear that the previous day’s work had already sunk into the players’ minds. As each piece was rehearsed it seemed that many subtle nuances within each score were beginning to line up and the music was slowly crystallizing before our eyes and ears. The final performance of each work was exhilarating and I could not be more pleased with how my piece Regenerations sounded by the end of the rehearsal.

This has been a humbling and powerful experience for me. The insights I have gained into the way orchestras work in rehearsal and performance have been invaluable. I am so grateful to all of the people who have made this possible at ACO and Earshot. I want to especially thank Maestro Guerrero and NSO, as well as Emma McLeod, Robert Beaser, Jennifer Higdon, Edgar Meyer, Ed Harsh, Cindi Hubbard, John Glover, and Jenny Kampmeier. I also want to express my thanks to my colleagues Ryan, Chiayu, and Michael who are all immensely talented composers and insightful musicians; it has been an honor to share this experience with you.


1. Daniel Temkin speaks to the audience before the Nashville Symphony reads his piece. 
2. A group shot of the whole Nashville EarShot gang.

Monday, April 5, 2010

EarShot Nashville Symphony

I feel so fortunate to have the great opportunity to work with Nashville symphony. I am very excited about this reading and want to thank all the people who have supported and worked on this project.

This reading will be a sound realization of my work. For composers, listening to our own music to be performed live is the most exciting experience. I am eager to hear what the end result is, to meet the musicians and to learn from this reading.


1. Chiayu Hsu addresses the audience before the Nashville Symphony reads her piece.
This is Daniel Temkin, checking in with the ACO community on the SoundAdvice Blog. Later this week I will be travelling to Nashville to participate in the ACO/Earshot Orchestra Readings with the Nashville Symphony. I’m obviously thrilled to have the opportunity to work with an orchestra that performs at such a high artistic level, and I no doubt will gain a tremendous amount of practical experience from the readings. I would very much like to thank everyone at ACO, Earshot, Meet the Composer, and NSO for making this opportunity available to young composers.

There will be four composers participating in the readings (me, Chiayu Hsu, Ryan Gallagher, and Michael Rickelton), and I think I can speak on behalf of all of us when I say that we are very excited and perhaps even a little anxious as the readings approach. Except when performing their own music, composers are not physically in control of the sounds being produced as their music is brought to life; instead they are required to prepare a set of thorough instructions (namely, a score and a set of parts) that must be interpreted carefully by instrumentalists so that the artistic ideas of a piece can come to fruition in concert. After a piece has been sent off to an orchestra or ensemble the composer is no longer directly in control of the music that has been created, and as performances approach there is often a sense of anticipation in the mind of the composer before the first notes are played. I certainly am feeling this excitement and anticipation at this time. Luckily for me, and for all of us working with NSO later this week, we can rest assured knowing that our “instructions” are in extremely capable hands.

More to come as the readings get underway…


1. The Nashville Symphony Orchestra on day one of the readings.