Any given Sunday – a 2013 wrap

I’m writing the last piece of the year right now.  It’s (…wait for it…) a sacred choral number (shocker!) commissioned by a family friend for a really good reason (which I can’t give away).

I finished the first draft yesterday, which means that 1) I can’t get it out of my head and 2) I’m already picking it apart, because a) it’s got ‘licks’ – which are the same little turns of phrase that I’m sure have crept into at least three other pieces (and sound SO stereotypically “sacred-choral” – y’all know what I mean), and if I can hear them – which I can, thank God – then, I can’t NOT hear them, so they have to go; AND b) I have an inkling that it’s too hard, which means it’s too hard.

Writing for the average choir that you will have on any given Sunday is harder than writing for the best imaginary choir of the most highly trained choral professionals who have been singing together for twenty years. The rub is complexity wolf wearing the clothing of simplicity sheep and still getting into the henhouse unnoticed. Then you just leave all the really hard stuff for the organist.

So I’ve been in edit mode today – which is slow and miserable, even more so because the edits are so extensive, I had to create a completely new notation file to keep track of it all (using the notation file is part of my process, which I’ll talk about later).  The result, however is far more concise. When I was in high school, I remember my parents having and LP (seriously) of  the composer who would become my first teacher.  There was a little interview on the back wherein he was asked about the works on the disc and his process.  I always remembered a bit of the interview where he said that whenever he was able to cut something, that usually meant that he was making it better.  So with that piece of gum stuck behind my ear, I sliced a good minute off the piece – eight measures here, two measures there.  All wrapped up for the holidays.  But the coda still sucks, which comes as no surprise to me, as the ending is the hardest part.  By the way, we’re talking about four to five minutes of music, total.

It’s the end of the year, which means that it’s time to reflect, or something.  This year, I wrote two choral works (including the one mentioned above), two works for solo piano (a  prelude and a longish concert work), a 12 minute work for string orchestra and the one-act opera, which was premiered in April.

Not a ton, but I also moved to Germany.

2014 – Opera rehashes, new chamber music set up for to different ensembles, gonna get my book out there and make a splash, plus I’m singing in two more Wagner operas and one Russian one, and God knows what else??!!  I also am looking for a job.

Alles Gute für 2014! 




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