I have written elsewhere about the problem of the second performance – the difficulty of getting a piece performed more than once. Now there is an article on the Chorus America website about the issue, with a few intriguing observations, most notably Libby Larsen‘s comments about how repeat performances seem to come more easily in the realm of choral music than instrumental. My own experience doesn’t quite bear that out. I have been lucky to get my choral music performed by fine groups, and my Denise Levertov cantata, Fire-Memory/River-Memory, has been done twice by its commissioning organization, Philadelphia’s Mendelssohn Club – in fact, a recording of their second performance of the piece has recently come out. But only one of my half dozen or so motets has been done by a group other than the one it was written for. (All but one were composed for Emmanuel Music, with the exception being performed at St. Jean Baptiste Church in NYC.) Matins, my Cantata Singers commission, awaits a second performance. Yes, I’ve been lucky, but I’d like a little more luck, please. What to do?
Well, for a start, a listing of my choral music, with score samples and audio clips, is here.
In 2004 I was one of 23 composers invited to write short pieces for a concert celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Prism Saxophone Quartet. I reached into my files and took the basic musical material from a chart I had written for my undergrad school’s jazz ensemble, enriched the harmony a bit, added some dissonant counterpoint and a little cadenza, and produced Straight Up. The title came from a frequent conversational interjection by a trumpet player I knew back then, roughly equivalent to “no kidding?”, or “are you talking to me straight?” – a possible reaction to hearing the piece.
Prism has recorded those 23 pieces for Innova, and to celebrate the release of the CD, they will play them in concerts in Philly and NYC. The Philadelphia concert is at the World Cafe this Saturday, May 29 at 7; the New York edition is at The Stone, March 31 at 10.
The list of composers is nicely diverse with respect to style, age, and so forth – here’s the list:
Frank J. Oteri
(Hey, I went to a lot of trouble to get all those links, so start clicking.)
Video on Innova here.