Goings-on Going on this Summer…

51p4EQDkYPL._SX384_BO1,204,203,200_This will be an interesting summer for me, as I won’t be attending any major conferences. Instead, I have been and will be spending my time engaged in various projects here in town, as well as visiting relatives and friends in North Carolina.

New Music on the Bayou held its fourth annual summer festival last week, and as always it was a fantastic celebration of contemporary composers and their works. Mel Mobley and I performed the world premiere of Ken Davies  Crystal Kaleidoscope for horn and marimba, and Black Bayou Brass performed Finding Resolution, a brass trio by Brandon Dicks. *NB: Because of severe weather, we were not able to perform the premiere of Davies’ piece back in April. However, our performance at New Music on the Bayou went very well.

During the month of June I am teaching a course for our new summer Master of Music Education degree. We are very excited to be offering an MME program, and enrollment for this first session has exceeded our expectations. My course is Applications of Music Technology, and is designed to introduce music educators to a variety of technologies they can incorporate into their classrooms and rehearsal halls. Having taught an undergraduate introduction to music technology course for the past several years, I had a good foundation to begin developing the course. However, I obviously wanted to make it different from the undergraduate level class, as well as tailor it to meet the needs of current educators. After some searching, I decided to use a book by Scott Watson, Using Technology to Unlock Musical Creativity. Although it was published in 2011, much of the material on technology is still relevant, but even more valuable is the pedagogical and philosophical approach. I highly recommend it!

This summer I’ll also be working with the IHS Online Music Sales editorial team (Gina Gillie, Dan Phillips, Daren Robbins, and Jeffrey Snedeker) to prepare and make available in digital format numerous works by Douglas HillThe Music of Douglas Hill Collection on the IHS site already has several of Hill’s compositions and method books, and we plan to add more very soon. Perhaps the most significant of these is a digital version of  Extended Techniques for the Horn, complete with the original audio examples composed and performed by the author. For more information on this project (and much more), check out this interview with Doug in the June 2019 IHS E-Newsletter.

After June I’ll be teaching an online music appreciation course, and preparing for a recital tour this September to several universities. I’ll post more on this as the fall gets closer, but the program is going to be a mix of both old and new, including works by Gina Gillie, Paul Basler, Hermann Neuling, Jan Koetsier, and B. Ed. Müller.

 

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Upcoming Performances: New Music on the Bayou Festival

Next week I’ll be performing in several concerts for the inaugural season of the  New Music on the Bayou Summer Festival. This event will involve numerous composers and performers from throughout the region and across the country, and I’m really looking forward to it! Here’s a brief description of the festival from its website:

The New Music on the Bayou Summer Festival is a chance for contemporary composers to work with professional performers during the rehearsal process and to have their new works performed by professional ensembles and musicians in an intense four-day festival. The festival features concerts at traditional and non-traditional venues. All submissions will be eligible for the Black Bayou Composition Award monetary prize.

Concerts will take place in several different venues, including concert halls on the University of Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana Tech University campuses, a local art museum, an art crawl, and even a national wildlife refuge! The festival promises to be not only a great venue to hear new music, but also a tour of the area’s many attractions. You can peruse the festival website for more details on the above.

The festival’s organizers, Dr. Mel Mobley and Dr. Gregory Lyons, have done a fantastic job coordinating all of the various elements: composers, performers, venues, rehearsal space, etc. With rehearsals set to begin next Tuesday and the first concert on Wednesday, individual preparation by the musicians is imperative. I personally like the challenge of preparing new and unfamiliar works, and feel that all of the works our group will be performing are high quality (though sometimes quite difficult). Here’s a listing of the composer, title, and instrumentation of the works I’m involved with next week. You can follow the links to each composer’s website for additional information and audio/video samples of their music.

Each work presents some unique and rewarding challenges, but here are a few general observations.

  • Range/Endurance: New music can sometimes be unreasonable in terms of range and endurance requirements, but the above pieces are actually very playable. They aren’t simplistic by any means, but they do take into account the actual possibilities of the instruments. As a performer, this is much appreciated! Believe it or not, after playing lots of brass trio music brass quintet is a bit easier on the face.
  • Rhythm: This has probably been the most challenging (at least for me) in terms of individual preparation. A few of the pieces have lots of mixed/asymmetrical meter, and in past experiences I’ve found that rhythms which seem clear cut during individual practice can become much more difficult to “feel” during ensemble rehearsals.
  • Dynamics/Articulation/Timbre Spectrum: As one might expect with new music, composers often want to break away from the traditional sounds of a particular instrument or ensemble. None of these works calls for any unusual or rare extended techniques, but they do make full use of the dynamic and articulation spectrum, as well as multiple timbres (everything from ff flutter tongue to pppp stopped horn).

Other than Covering, which I’ve performed multiple times, all of these pieces are brand new to us, and we look forward to rehearsing them for the composers as well as performing them during the festival. If you are in the area and looking for something to do after Memorial Day, check out one or more of the concerts on the New Music on the Bayou Festival. On a larger note, if you are a performer, consider seeking out and advocating for new music. Working with living composers can give you a fresh perspective as a performer, which will carry over into other areas of your musical career.

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