Sunday, February 3, 2013
Heard some very fine music this weekend: Turangalila and the Quartet for the End of Time, both by the French master Olivier Messiaen. I don't do reviews on this blog, and I won't start now. But I will say that the Seattle Symphony really outdid itself on the huge orchestral work Turangalila. I have heard this piece so many times, but never live. It has so many wonderful colors and textures, and they crash into each other with such force, yet with such grace. I found it thrilling.
The Quartet was performed the net night by SSO players, and they did a very good job. It's is a very emotional piece for me, and it never fails to draw me in. Congrats to the musicians and t the SSO for their programming and commitment to recently-new-music.
Sunday, January 13, 2013
The recording went very well, I think we got some amazing sounds. We should have some rough mixes soon to give an idea. The recording happened at an amazing facility that is designed for rehearsing and recording. Some 100 rooms of varying sizes, all decked out with equipment, a cafe, bathrooms. There isn't anything like that in Seattle, for sure.
We had help from Luke, a friend of Anne's who manned the computer for the recording. Anne has a great ear for textures, and it was a real joy to do this kind of electronic improv with her.
Some highlights below:
Friday, December 28, 2012
I am traveling to Amsterdam for a show at Zaal 100 with Anne La Berge. We are going to spend some time recording, and then do an improvised electronics show with a couple of local musicians. Should be a very fun time.
Much more to come about this, but I am honored and excited to be doing a show as part of the Cornish Music Series. This will be a show with all premieres of new electronic music, including new work with dancer/choreographer/filmmaker Corrie Befort, a performance by Triptet, excerpts from my in-progress electronic opera "(w)hole", and a work written specifically for Poncho Hall and the many ghosts that reside there. Save the date, would love to see you there.
Unfortunately, June marks the date of my next surgery, a partial-wrist-fusion of my left hand. This one, I am not so much looking forward to.
Non-sequitur (a local presenting organization) is sponsoring a show that will feature three new premieres of acoustic compositions of mine, including my 1st string quartet, entitled Invisible Cities, and a new work for 5 pianos (an acoustic surround sound piece) as yet untitled. Very excited about this show, I hope you can save the date for this one too.
Thursday, December 27, 2012
JANUARY saw the release of a new CD featuring my chamber opera:
Hunger - The Journey of Tamsen Donner.
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Long time... I have been kind of ignoring this blog for awhile, thought it might be time to make a few posts to catch up.
This first post of 2013 (actually, not quite yet, but close enough) is a short explanation of what has been happening with my hands.
As some of you know, I had wrist-fusion surgery in July on my right wrist. This is to alleviate about a decade of pain from osteo-arthritis. It isn't clear exactly how it happened, but some accident or forgotten fall in my youth finally caught up to me. A splayed tendon in my right wrist was causing arthritis, for which I was taking medication for the last 7 years.
Here is my wrist about 7 years ago:
At this time, the arthritis in my RH was not too bad, but in my left it was getting unmanageable. Here is the LH wrist about 7 years ago:
This shot shows the arthritis, under my thumb, where the bones are rubbing together.
So I decided to take the next step in the treatment, a partial-wrist-fusion. We decided, after consulting with the surgeon, to do the right wrist first. July 11, they removed my scaphoid bone and fused together the remaining metacarpals. Here is the right wrist 6 weeks after surgery, after pins were removed...
Here you can see the removal of the bone under the thumb, and the fused bone on the right of the picture (looks like a ginger root!).
The upshot is that in the (almost) 6 months since the surgery, I am about 70% back. I have permanently lost some mobility in the wrist, but am getting back to full strength. I am playing again, mostly pain-free in the right-hand.
The bad news is that the LH is scheduled for surgery in June. It has been a long slog, and will now be another year before I am close to full strength. And getting back to playing will much harder with the left-hand recovery. But I am optimistic, and hopeful that I can build a new technique that will accommodate these issues, and come out on the other side playing without pain. It is amazing what an invasive thing this kind of surgery is, and I can only try to look past it to better days.
So, there we have it, about 1/4 of the way through the full surgery/recovery...
Sunday, June 10, 2012
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Back in WA, things have been a bit strange and sad. The Cafe Racer shootings, which happened just a few days ago, has been heavy on all of our minds. It is surreal and unreal at the same time. I was just leaving town the day it occurred, and it was hard to be away from home when something like this happens so close to home (both literally, blocks from our house; and figuratively, losing colleagues and comrades). The Racer is a great hangout, and supports this weird music scene and it is a complete shock that this would happen.
Here are some links if you haven't heard about it.
*** ugh ***
I spent the last week or so in our just-finished cabin in the Methow Valley. We have been working on it for the past 3 years, it has been a huge project and we are finished enough to begin occupying.
You can see the years progress on our cabin blog: twispavialane.blogspot.com.
I brought up a desk and supplies for a week of composing, but honestly spent more time napping and resting than actually composing. I have gotten knee deep in a newly commissioned piece (Brian Chin commissioned it) for trumpet, vibes, guitar and baritone. It is a set of three songs with some of the most beautiful poetry written in the last 100 years, by Fernando Pessoa. I am going to set them in the original Portuguese, which means a bit of research and work on my part to figure out this beautiful language. Thanks to Jovino Santos Neto for helping me with the pronunciations... Pessoa was a strange man, a mystic, who wrote volumes and volumes of poetry, in his own name and under several others. These three songs are all about sleeping and dreaming. It is going well, but much work to do.
Hope you are all enjoying the summer (perhaps it actually feels like summer somewhere other than here in rainy, cold Seattle...)
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Arrived NYC ion Thursday, thanks to the wonderful folks at Amtrak. I love the train. Had to get up at 4:30 to make it in time for the conference, but it was worth it. Plenty of conference highlights, two to share: opening remarks b George Lewis. Not sure they come much smarter or visionary than George. His talk was called "Why do we want our computers to improvise?"... It encapsulated most of the presentations, and brought up some profound ideas and complications to electronic musical interactivity. One of his main points: interactivity only becomes improvisation with freedom. Freedom is a big issue with George, including social and political freedom. And in the realm of improvised musical freedom, he had a lot to say. I think that my own way forward through the electronic music realm is with an emphasis on freedom, and on the identity-creating power of our machines and their ability to interact and improvise with us.
Second main highlight for me was running into my mentor, Henry Threadgill. We had a nice talk, it is always so great to see him. Reminded me of my great fortune to have had such incredible teachers and mentors. Threadgill, Dempster, Ung... Many more of course.
The other presentations were quite interesting, with some of the French composers/engineers making some new and potentially big new things (musical objects, learning systems like OMAX, etc). Overall the level of musical thinking was not the main focus, and that showed... But some real cool stuff happening.
I spent the afternoon in Washington Square Park, one of my favorite NY haunts. It was a picture perfect day:
Then on Friday we loaded up the car and Triptet headed upstate to make a new CD with Engine Records. We headed to Michael Monhart's place near Red Hook NY, a very special cottage tucked up on a rear river. We had plenty of gear:
Had a great time in the studio, and Greg and Michael and I are all really looking forward to the record. Here are some studio shots, courtesy of Alissa and Jane.
Back to NYC after a wonderful day with the Blacklows, who graciously hosted us and kept us entertained the whole time - it is a great life when you love your in-laws. Speaking of in-laws, Jane and Henrik were also there, on different days. So jealous of my brother-in-law Dave who gets to spend so much time with them both!
Alissa flew home early in Monday, and I spent the day at MOMA. It is one of m favorite places in NY, even though it was completely jammed with people...
Said hello to Tonya, saw these two interesting pieces:
candies and candy wrappers. You could eat the candy
spaces, covered with a thin membrane like sheepskin, sewn into the wall.