Ensemble Talk: On Working with Composers (Successfully)

Beginning in undergrad (and sometimes earlier), composers are taught how to approach performers—what to say, what not to say, how to phrase critiques, ask questions, and ensure a successful performance. But because traditional performance institutions, particularly those following the conservatory model, value dead composers above all else (except for that one large ensemble concert a year that’s reserved for new works), it’s not uncommon to encounter performers who haven’t thought all that much about how working closely with a composer can require something beyond basic professionalism. Young performers, particularly those who play works by a composer friend, seem particularly susceptible to this, but everyone can stand to benefit from some organized consideration every once in awhile. So what do composers wish their performers knew?

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YOUR MOUSE GOD iS DEAD (and other new works): presenting the program

Hello again, friends and readers! (I know it’s been awhile. Life gets in the way sometimes. I’ll be back on the blog more in the coming months.)

As we round the corner into March, I’m well into my second semester at CalArts, and that means it’s recital time again! In addition to appearing on a slew of other concerts this semester, I’ll be presenting my own recital, YOUR MOUSE GOD iS DEAD, this Saturday, March 3, at 5PM PST in the Wild Beast. Because I’m in the Performer-Composer program, the show will be a mash-up of my own work and efforts from friends and colleagues around the world. The program is as follows:

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Congratulations: Phantom Brass Has Its Composers

Phantom Brass is pleased to announce the results of our inaugural call for scores. This fall, we received works from seventy-four composers representing eighteen states and fourteen countries. We would like to congratulate Bracha Bdil, Michael Boyd, Jim Fox, Jinhee Han, Philip Henderson, Hayley Marie King, Chris Lamb, Pierre Emmanuel Mariaca, Charles Meenaghan, and Jonathan Newmark on the skill and creativity of their composing. Phantom Brass will collaborate with these composers to bring their music to life throughout 2018.

Our next call for scores will open January 15; stay tuned! ♦

Rock ‘n’ Roll Band: Dreams and Doorways Release ‘Hidden Reflections’

The members of Dreams and Doorways don’t make a big deal about their entrance.

Sure, a fog machine is at work and they’re accompanied by the fixed-media piece, aptly titled “Enter,” that opens their album, but they don’t need an elaborate light show or an announcer to herald their arrival. Their 150-odd audience members are already cheering.

That fact itself is perhaps one of the most refreshing aspects of Dreams and Doorways’ live show: the five men on stage are unassuming and earnest, there to officially release their debut LP, Hidden Reflections, and have fun doing it. Their stage, swimming in amplifiers and instruments (everybody does at least two things over the course of the show), is otherwise simple; a few model ships and airplanes accompany a sole hot air balloon, but visual distractions are minimal. This show is all about the band.

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When Your Best Dress Isn’t Enough

I don’t know how to start this post.

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already heard about the attack at Manchester Arena. You know nineteen people are dead, fifty-plus are injured, Ariana Grande might be suspending her world tour, and the internet is in an uproar. You know everyone’s already speculating about who did it and why. Maybe you’ve ventured into the comments section of an article posted by a major newspaper or TV station and beheld the vitriol being hurled. I certainly have. And it sucks. It really, really sucks.

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