My Favorite Getaway: Aurora, NY

When I need to get out of the city (okay, Rochester isn’t a huge metropolis, but it is a city nevertheless) I head to one of the most peaceful and beautiful small towns I know – Aurora, NY.  Nestled on the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake, the town is steeped in history, with a picturesque main street running along the lakeside.  It’s a perfect place to get inspired and feel refreshed. As a composer (and I suspect this is true for other artists, as well), I have come to realize that it is important to get away and separate myself from my work occasionally.  Often times, the best artistic ideas, seeds that can grow into a good idea, happen away from my desk.  That's not to say that one should just hang out at the beach every day waiting for inspiration to strike; I am a big believer in creating regularly (every day, when possible) - exercising that creative muscle.  I find that many times, when I put limitations on myself (such as deadlines), the creative work actually flows better.  I have to be self-motivated, but that pressure can help fuel productivity.

So, it's a balance.

Most artists tend to feel like they can never stop working - there is always room for improvement, always a higher level of excellence to pursue.  Working hard is very important, but I have also found that getting away from work for periods of time can provide the spark needed to really come up with creative ideas.

What are your favorite places to get away?

Recap: A Song of Singing Premiere

I didn't get sun burned! (I wasn't in the sun very much... alas.) I had a wonderful visit to Delray Beach, FL from November 30 - December 4. I was in Florida for the premiere of A Song of Singing, which was commissioned by the Delray Beach Chorale (DBC) in celebration of their 30th anniversary season.

The dress rehearsal on Tuesday night (Nov. 30th) was the first time the choir had rehearsed with a 9-piece brass and percussion ensemble that would perform with them that weekend.  The size of the church, power of the brass, and arrangement on the stage made balance a little tricky, but the DBC director Eric Keiper did a great job harnessing the brass and bringing the choir to the fore.  He even brought a beautiful red rug to the performance, laying it down in front of the brass which helped absorb a bit of their powerful sound!

Between Tuesday (dress rehearsal) and Saturday (performance) I was hosted by a wonderful choir member and her husband, and was treated to great food, weather, and conversation.  On Wednesday evening I had a lovely dinner with Eric and two members of the DBC board.  It was really interesting to learn about the history of the choir and hear all their great ideas for the future - this is a group to watch!

Friday evening I had dinner with a board member and another singer in the group, and was fortunate enough to attend a brilliant concert by the Delray String Quartet.  They played a wonderful program of music in a beautiful venue in Fort Lauderdale, and played with fantastic sensitivity.  It was really a pleasure to hear them - I only wish more people had been there to appreciate some great music-making.

Saturday was a great day - we took some pictures prior to the performance in the afternoon, touched some spots in my piece and others, and began the concert at 3pm.  It was a wonderful performance on many levels.

First, I think there were about 400 people in attendance!  Second, it was an ambitious program of music that really showed many different sides of the choir and all the instrumentalists involved.

Third, the performance had a great energy and excitement that doesn't always happen.  Sometimes the dress rehearsal will have that extra edge and energy, followed by a performance that seems lackluster.  But in this case, the performance really kicked it up a notch.

My piece in particular sounded fun - which is exactly what I wanted.  I wrote the piece hoping that it would be fun for everyone involved - the choir, the director, the brass, the timpani, the piano!  I wasn't entirely sure how the audience would react to the piece (I guess because I was thinking so much more about the performers, in this case) but they loved it!

I was honored to be a part of this significant anniversary for the DBC and I look forward to following their next 30 years of singing!

Lauda at KMEA in February

I announced a few weeks ago that Lauda will be performed at the Kansas Music Educators Association Workshop in February 2012 in Wichita, KS by the Bethel College Wind Ensemble, under the direction of my good friend Timothy Shade.  Here is an article in the Bethel College News with some more information on the program.  I will be at KMEA for the performance - hope to see you there!

Florida, Here I Come!

It's been a couple of years since I was in the Sunshine State, but I'm coming back tomorrow! I will be in Delray Beach for the Delray Beach Chorale dress rehearsal tomorrow night, and the premiere of "A Song of Singing" on Saturday December 3rd.  Concert info here.

I'm very excited - it will be great to hear this wonderful group of singers perform a really fantastic program of music. I'm honored to have been asked to write a new work in celebration of their 30th anniversary!  The piece is joyus, big, and hopefully fun for everyone involved!

Other recent news:

  • Goodnight, Goodnight was chosen to be presented in the ACDA Eastern Division Conference Reading Session at the Convention in February.
  • Lauda will be performed by the Bethel College Wind Ensemble at the Kansas Music Educators Association’s In-Service Workshop next spring in Wichita, KS.  The Bethel Wind Ensemble recently performed the work on November 20th, and will perform the piece again at KMEA in February.  Congrats to Timothy Shade and the ensemble who were one of three ensembles chosen out of 66 Kansas ensembles - wow!