Shadow Memory

UnknownIt’s so typical: I’ve got a commission and a due date for an oboe quartet, to be premiered by the superb Peggy Pearson and Winsor Music next April 26. I’ve got a decent start on that piece. But instead of staying focused on the quartet, a different project has been commanding my attention lately, one without a commission or due date. This is a little song on a text by Susan Orlean, pictured at left. She is the best-selling author of Rin Tin TinThe Orchid Thief, Saturday Night, and My Kind of Place, among other books, as well as being a staff writer for the New Yorker, and an avid Twitterer. Her short essay, “Shadow Memory”, anthologized in My Kind of Place, was originally a contribution to a book called Flowers in Shadow: A Photographer Discovers a Victorian Botanical Journal. I chose just the last paragraph of this piece. It is a beautifully crafted single sentence that speaks of “the little shadow each of us casts”. In my setting I’ve tried to capture the bittersweet flavor of the excerpt, which is carefully balanced between remembering and forgetting, between that which will “stay fresh forever, or forever slip away.”

No premiere has been set for the song yet, but I am in conversations about setting something up. The song just needs a little more polishing, and then it will be back to the oboe quartet, as well as a little piece for the Dolce Suono concert on January 18.

Upcoming Events

The performances page has been updated, with dates now in place for spring concerts by Peggy Pearson/Winsor Music, and the Philadelphia Sinfonia. A few more events will likely flesh out the schedule a bit, including a possible performance of the Piano Quintet at Penn, and a revival of a motet at Emmanuel Church. I’ll also be participating in an Exquisite Corpse project for Network for New Music, but more about that in another post.

Don’t Just Sit There

Why are you reading this blog when you could be:

– donating to Winsor Music’s Kickstarter to support their creative educational programming at the Mather School in Dorchester, MA for two years. Winsor Music’s artistic director is Peggy Pearson, the sublime oboist with Emmanuel Music.

– listening to a stream of C4‘s first album, this week’s WQXR Q2 Album of the Week. C4 is the Choral Composer/Conductor Collective. The album opens with a piece by my friend and fellow Columbia alum Hayes Biggs.

– browsing the hundreds of scores Music Sales Classical (G. Schirmer, AMP, Novello, Chester, etc.) has put online here.

Of course, get back over here when you are done!

Back to School Miscellany

Labor Day has yet to happen, but I was back at my day job today. I have some more substantive posts planned, but you will have to make do with a few  links for the moment:

– One of my current composition projects is to write an oboe quartet for Peggy Pearson on a commission from Winsor Music. The premiere is planned for the fall of 2014. Winsor has a handsome new website, with information about their concerts as well as some intriguing and uncommon projects, like their relationship with Project STEP and their Songs for the Spirit hymnal-in-progress.

– Go here to read Stephen Sondheim’s acceptance speech at this year’s MacDowell Medal Day; there are also links to remarks by Michael Chabon and Frank Rich.

– Season announcements are being flung over the digital transom. Go here for Orchestra 2001 (highlights include a Gunther Schuller premiere and Richard Wernick’s Kaddish-Requiem); here for Network for New Music (including a 2-concert Harbison festival with premieres by the guest of honor and five more composers – I’m working on something for that); and here for Songfusion (opening with more Harbison, including a program at Small’s jazz club featuring Mary Mackenzie – who will be doing a program at Penn on October 23.)

Thursday night datebook

Events: very soon, soon, and not so soon:

Bowerbird presents Eliane Radigue’s complete Naldjorlak cycle at Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 North American Street in Philadelphia, 8 pm, Friday, September 24.

Orchestra 2001 offers two works by Osvaldo Golijov, plus Enoch Arden by Richard Strauss, with Marina Sirtis as narrator; September 24 at Trinity Center, September 26 at Swarthmore College.

– Oboe goddess Peggy Pearson plays the Boston premiere of Stephen Jaffe’s Chamber Concerto “Singing Figures” at the first Winsor Music concert of the season. Sunday, October 3 at St. Paul’s Church, Brookline, 7:00 PM. (Check out the fine recording of the piece on Bridge.)

UPDATE: I just received an e-mail reporting that the October 3 Winsor Music  concert is cancelled, due to “an injury to a performer. She will be OK, but could not manage this week’s schedule of rehearsals. We regret any inconvenience caused by this cancellation.”

– Mimi Stillman’s Dolce Suono Ensemble premieres a new Richard Danielpour trio on October 22 at Trinity Center in Philadelphia. Read here (scroll down) about the group’s Mahler/Schoenberg project, coming next spring, and including commissioned works by Steven Stucky, Steven Mackey, Fang Man, David Ludwig, and Stratis Minakakis.

21st Century Consort offers Barber, Copland, Jon Deak, Jordan Kuspa, and Mark Kuss at its season opener, October 23, Smithsonian American Art Museum in DC.