Panel Discussion - Composers on Composing & Commissioning

This morning I participated in a panel discussion at KMEA (Kansas All-State Conference) titled "Composers on Composing and Commissioning."  The session was organized by my friend Timothy Shade, Conductor of the Bethel College Wind Ensemble, who performed "Lauda" on Thursday at the conference.  Composer Derek Jenkins and myself talked about writing for wind ensembles, our experience with commissioning, and fielded some excellent questions from the attendees. Derek is a wonderful composer, and it was a pleasure to hear more of his music and hear him discuss his compositional process. I put together this handout: Thoughts On Commissioning, for the occasion.  The handout is by no means an exhaustive tutorial on commissioning, but is instead just some general ideas and information for those interested in commissioning a piece of music.  Many thanks to Tim for organizing the fun discussion and for all the folks that participated!

Composing Anywhere (and Everywhere!)

Composers have famously carried little black books with them to jot down ideas, regardless of where they are when inspiration strikes.  I don't necessarily do this, but I do find myself thinking about composing pretty much everywhere - while walking, driving, eating, etc.  And, I find myself working on pieces in various locations.  Obviously, when we travel we are forced to work outside of our normal spaces and sometimes get some work done in a hotel room or in a cafe.  I have always enjoyed working in cafes and coffee shops, where there is some bustle but also some ability to concentrate.  At the same time, I also like very quiet and secluded places where I can really focus on creating ideas and hearing them in my head.  However, those quiet and secluded places seem to be less and less common these days.  Today I find myself in a library where it is relatively quiet, but not without people walking by and some ambient noise.  I have my score for Magnolia Star (latest wind ensemble piece) here and I'm thinking about sounds, sections, and form.  It's nice to be able to get some amount of composition work done from anywhere.

My Song

Below is a text I found a couple of months ago.  I'm working on a few preliminary ideas, but I'm still not even sure what the instrumentation will be.  Might be SATB choir unaccompanied, but not entirely sure yet.  Anyway, the text is beautiful and I'm looking forward to working on it: My Song

This song of mine will wind its music around you, my child, like the fond arms of love. This song of mine will touch your forehead like a kiss of blessing.

When you are alone it will sit by your side and whisper in your ear, when you are in the crowd it will fence you about with aloofness.

My song will be like a pair of wings to your dreams, it will transport your heart to the verge of the unknown. It will be like the faithful star overhead when dark night is over your road.

My song will sit in the pupils of your eyes, and will carry your sight into the heart of things. And when my voice is silent in death, my song will speak in your living heart.

-  Rabindranath Tagore

My Studio Tour

This is where a lot of the work happens... my little studio!







I love having dual monitors on my desk so I can have multiple programs open at once.







I have a full-size keyboard with headphones set up next to my desk (in front of a window), so I can play or improvise and then input it into Finale right away.