Post-Hiatus Miscellany

My pieces for the Mendelssohn Club and Prism (with Marilyn Nonken) are completed, and while I still need to put in a great deal of practice time on the music I will be playing at Penn on February 17 and 24 (more info below), I want to take a moment and catch up on a few things.

– First of all, a big thank you to the Philadelphia Sinfonia and its music director Gary White for their fine performance of my Variations on a Hymn Tune. I was terrifically impressed by the group and by Gary. Their hard work paid off in a performance that was spirited and elegantly shaped. Likewise, thank you to the Society for New Music for programming my Dancepiece – I heard from Neva Pilgrim that the performance went very well and was warmly received.

– the Eighty-Eight Lately series of concerts at Penn, featuring new and recent music for piano, continues with performances by Gregory DeTurck on February 17 (works by Crumb, Perle and Dutilleux) and by Matthew Bengtson on February 24 (works by Carter, Nancarrow, Melinda Wagner, Bolcom, Ligeti, and Takemitsu). In addition to the music Greg and Matt will play, I will contribute one piece to each program. On the 17th I will play the Berio Sequenza and on the 24th, a movement from Donald Martino’s Fantasies and Impromptus. Both concerts are at 8 pm, and take place in Rose Recital Hall, found on the 4th floor of Fisher-Bennett Hall, 34th and Walnut, on the University of Pennsylvania campus in Philadelphia.

– word has come in of a few additional performances this season. My Oboe Quartet has been programmed by the organization Weekend of Chamber Music. The performers will be Peggy Pearson, who commissioned and premiered the piece; Ari Streisfeld of the JACK Quartet; and Kathryn Lockwood and Caroline Stinson of the Lark Quartet – this is quite an all-star group. They will be at the Tenri Cultural Institute in NYC on March 25, and at The Cooperage in Honesdale, PA on March 26. On April 1, soprano Sarah Noone will sing my Four Sacred Songs for voice and chamber ensemble at Notre Dame University. And on Friday, April 8, my music will be heard at Bargemusic in NYC for the first time when pianist Geoffrey Burleson plays Pure Contraption, Absolute Gift. You can always find a complete list of upcoming performances in the footer at the bottom of each page on this website. That information is also on the Performances page, along with an archive of past events.

Philadelphia Sinfonia in Rehearsal

I recently received a few pictures from a Philadelphia Sinfonia rehearsal of my Variations on a Hymn Tune earlier this month. The plan is to perform the piece this coming Sunday, January 24 at the Temple Performing Arts Center in Philadelphia. The concert will be at 3 pm. This assumes everyone can get out despite the snow! At the moment it doesn’t look too bad out, but it has only been snowing for about 3 hours, and I take it the worst is yet to come. There will be an update at the Philadelphia Sinfonia website on Sunday morning.

This first shot shows me standing near the concertmistress. That’s the Sinfonia’s music director Gary White on the podium:

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the next one taken at about the same moment but from the side:

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This one shows more of the orchestra:

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Here’s Gary and I consulting during the break after my piece:

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“Variations” with Philadelphia Sinfonia

I attended a rehearsal of my Variations on a Hymn Tune with the Philadelphia Sinfonia this past Saturday, and was terrifically impressed. The young people in this group are working on a very high level and they have obviously put in a lot of time and effort on my piece. Conductor Gary White was able to concentrate more on musical character, shape and expression, rather than the mechanics of the piece. He works well with the group, with a nice balance of challenging and supportive comments and an efficient, focussed rehearsal style.

I’m very grateful to Gary and the Sinfonia for bringing this piece to life, especially since the piece has lain dormant since the initial performances by students of the Council Rock School District in Bucks County, PA. You can hear the Philadelphia Sinfonia play my Variations on a concert being given this coming January 24 at 3:00 pm. The concert will be held at the Temple Performing Arts Center, 1837 Broad Street in Philadelphia, and the program also includes the Elgar Cello Concerto with soloist Derek Barnes, and the Firebird Suite of Stravinsky.

You can find an excerpt from the score of the Variations here.

Upcoming this season in Athens, Tallahassee, and Philadelphia

I want to call your attention to a couple of items recently added to the performances page:

Youmee Kim, a member of the piano faculty at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, was part of the consortium that commissioned my Pure Contraption, Absolute Gift. She will play the piece in Glidden Hall on the OU campus this coming September 27. I’ve written about the piece here.

– I first met soprano Mary Mackenzie at the Token Creek Chamber Music Festival several years ago when she performed my Three Sacred Songs, and she has since performed my music a number of times. Mary will include that same set of arrangements of chant melodies (Jesu Dulcis Memoria, and Christus Factus Est) and a carol (O Fillii et Filliae) on a program with pianist Heidi Louise Williams at Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL, on November 20. The Three Sacred Songs were later orchestrated for chamber ensemble, with another arrangement added, to make the Four Sacred Songs, which are included on the Bridge Sacred Songs CD. Mary and Heidi are planning a CD that will include several pieces of mine, including the big cycle Holy the Firm, the individual songs Shadow Memory, and Waltzing the Spheres, plus an arrangement of How Can I Keep From Singin’?

Gary White will lead the Philadelphia Sinfonia in my Variations on a Hymn Tune at the Temple Performing Arts Center in Philadelphia, PA, next January 24. I wrote the piece for the Council Rock school district in Bucks County, PA, basing it on a 19th century hymn tune “Ebenezer”, written by Welsh composer Thomas J. Williams. Although I came to know the tune with the text “Through the Night of Doubt and Sorrow”, my music does not reflect that lugubrious title!