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Original Gravity Podcast

When I was at Electronic Music Midwest in Sept., I had the pleasure of being the guest on an episode of the Original Gravity Podcast.  The podcast is a companion to the Original Gravity Concert Series in MA, which presents new music in breweries and similar locations.

Hosted by Keith Kirchoff and guest-hosted by Eric Honour, this episode covers home brewing, electronic music (including Concertina No. 1: Cathedrals), the Marie Curie Opera, and more.  There’s even a previously unreleased excerpt from the opera draft included in the podcast.  You can check it out on the Podbean app or listen online.

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Electronic Music Midwest 2017

My work “Falling” for voice and live processing has been selected for inclusion at the 2017 Electronic Music Midwest Festival.  Held at the Kansas City Kansas Community College on Sept. 21-23, “Falling” will be on the 1:30 pm concert on Saturday, Sept. 23.

The work was premiered at the Women Composers Festival of Hartford in 2015.  Based on a line of text by Sarah Teasdale, the work uses Max/MSP to build ambient textures from the spoken vocal part.  If you attend, you’ll see a rare sight – me performing!

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L’Age Mur on 365 Days of Flute

My solo flute piece L’Age Mûr was recently included in Robin Meiksins‘s 365 Days of Flute project.  Each day Robin records a different flute excerpt or short composition and posts it to her YouTube channel.  You can see the video of my work below (day 284 of 365) or check out the full collection of videos for some great flute playing.

 

 

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Featured on 1 Track Podcast

This week, I was featured on Anthony Joseph Lanman‘s excellent 1 Track Podcast. The show presents musicians with one basic question: If you could introduce listeners to your music by playing them just one piece, what would it be and why?

When Anthony invited me to be a guest on the podcast, I knew right away that I wanted to share Trigger, my mini-opera about domestic violence because of the important topic it examines.  You can listen to our conversation and hear some audio excerpts of the music here.  If you’d like to watch the full premiere performance, a video is included below.

 

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“Elegy” to be included on Kate Amrine’s Album

Trumpeter Kate Amrine is releasing her first album, which includes my solo Elegy.  Her project features music for trumpet alone and in various chamber settings by women composers, including Alexandra GardnerAriel MarxJennifer Higdon, Jinhee Han, Ledah Finck, and Nicole Piunno.  She is joined on the album by Borah Han (piano), Peggy Houng (harp), and The Witches  (Ledah Finck, violin and Louna Dekker-Vargas, flute) in a program that includes singing, improvising, and extended techniques.

Kate is currently doing an online fundraiser for her project – please check it out and consider supporting her mission to promote the music of women composers.

If you visit her fundraiser page, you can hear her perform Elegy in the first portion of the promo video.

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Opera Without Borders Sunday Spotlight

The Hartford Opera Theater‘s blog “Opera Without Borders” highlights various composers and performers each Sunday.  I was recently featured in their 2/19 post, which includes some of my thoughts about their theme:

“To me, “Opera without Borders” means connection – connection with words and music, connection with ideas and issues relevant to today, and most importantly, connection with people…”

Read more on their blog!

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A Response to The Election

Like many of us, I awoke Wednesday in shock and horror, unsure how to face the future a relatively small portion of our country has chosen for us.  I am still processing the events of this week and probably will be for a long time, but yesterday I realized that I have been working through many of the issues brought up by the election in my music of the past year.  In addition to writing a chamber opera about domestic abuse, I have set Walt Whitman’s short text below in two different pieces:

“Of equality—As if it harmed me, giving others the same chances 
and rights as myself—as if it were not indispensable to my own rights that others possess the same.”

Whitman’s words have stayed with me, and I hope that others will be similarly struck by them as we move ahead.  If anyone is interested in either setting of Whitman’s text or my chamber opera, I am making the performance materials for all three works free for the next month.  The pieces can be found by accessing the links below.

 

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Video of “Trigger”

A video of my new mini-opera “Trigger” is now available on YouTube!  The work was written for soprano Afton Forsberg and the 2016 Opera from Scratch workshop, where it was premiered by Afton and pianist Simon Docking on Aug. 28, 2016.

The composition was inspired by an incident from the spring of 2014 in Nova Scotia: a woman filed a domestic assault complaint against her boyfriend, and a local law enforcement officer accidentally left a voicemail message at the victim’s number where officers can be heard discussing the case.  In the recording (which is available online), an officer can be heard disparaging the woman, implying that she may be lying about her injuries, and asking if she deserved to get hit.  I was very disturbed by the incident, and my reactions to it ultimately became realized in Trigger.

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Ensemble for These Times Call for Scores Winner

I recently received the good news that There Will Come Soft Rains for unaccompanied voice was chosen for performance by the Ensemble For These Times in their inaugural Call for Scores.  Selected from over 200 submissions, the piece will be performed during the 2016-17 concert season.  I am very excited to be working with this great ensemble and am honored to be among the composers chosen (see the official release for a full list of winners).

This work is now available through the online store – click here to listen to a recording, view a perusal score, and/or purchase downloadable sheet music.

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Online Store Launch Sale!

My online store is now live with more than 25 solo and chamber ensemble works!  In the store, you can view pages for individual pieces that include recordings, perusal scores, and program notes.  All compositions are currently available for purchase as digital downloads.  Please visit my FAQ for store policies and other important information.

In honor of launching, I am offering a 30% discount on all purchases through June 15.  Sale prices are displayed on each piece, so no there’s need to input a discount code!

I am adding new solo/chamber pieces daily, and large ensemble works will be coming in the next few months!  If you are interested in a composition not yet available in the store, please contact me to request it.

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Connecticut Children’s Chorus Commission

CCC-6I’m very excited to announce that the Connecticut Children’s Chorus has commissioned me to write a new work for their Prelude, Canticum, and Concert Choirs.  The work is based a text by Walt Whitman about equality, and the project involves an educational outreach component.

In January, I met with students from the choirs to explore their thoughts and experiences relating to equality.  I led short discussions with each choir about the text, its message, and its relevance today.  In addition to highlighting the students’ voices through the music, I am also incorporating some of their words and ideas about equality into composition alongside the Whitman text.  It’s been really wonderful getting to know the students and working on the music/words!

The new work will be premiered on the Connecticut Children Chorus concert on May 22.  More details coming soon!

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Hartford Courant Article on “Iseult Speaks”

Mike Hamad of the Hartford Courant has written a feature on the collaborations behind my new work Iseult Speaks.  The full text of the article is available here, and it goes into the backstory of the work, discussing how the piece developed from a chance meeting.  The work has been a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with poet Elizabeth Hamilton and mezzo-soprano Charity Clark, as well as the Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra.  It’s been a great roughly 18-month journey, and I’m excited for the work’s premiere!

 

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New Recording Posted: “Twisted Blue”

Recital_Feb2016-1 A complete recording of Twisted Blue (in the clarinet and piano version) is now available!  Alex Kollias and Elisabeth Tomczyk premiered the three-movement work on Feb. 5, 2016 as part of a composition recital I gave at the Hartt School.  The recital also included preview performances of Iseult Speaks (to be premiered by the Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra on Feb. 20, 2016) and Step No. 4: Know the Tuba Attitude (premiere TBA later this spring).  Dr. Daniel D’Addio reprised My Father Was a Ventriloquist as well.  Stay tuned for additional recital recordings coming soon!

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New Recording Posted: “Thought”

The Riot Ensemble LogoThis past fall, the London-based Riot Ensemble commissioned me to create a work for soprano, alto flute, harpsichord, and two percussionists as part of their 2015 Call for Scores.  The resulting work, Thought, was premiered in London on Nov. 17, 2015.  The work is a meditation on Walt Whitman’s eponymous text, featuring extended techniques and spoken parts for the instrumentalists.

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National Flute Association 2015

Sophia Tegart and Helena Kopchick Spencer will perform Transformations at the National Flute Association Convention in Washington, DC on August 13, 2015.  Written for the duo in 2007, the work is a set of five miniatures inspired by poems from Anne Sexton’s eponymous collection.  The piece will be featured on a program entitled “Women of Note”.  Works by Jennifer Margaret Barker, Lili Boulanger, Mélanie Bonis, Amanda Harberg, Evelyn Simpson-Curenton, Kate Soper, and Germaine Tailleferre will also be presented.

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Riot Ensemble Commission

The Riot Ensemble Logo

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2015-16 is shaping up to include a number of collaborations and premieres that I am extremely excited to start working on. The first of these is a commission from the UK-based Riot Ensemble.  As one of three winners from their recent Call for Scores, I will be composing a new work for soprano, flute, harpsichord, and two percussionists to be premiered in London on Nov. 17, 2015 (click here to read the official announcement).

Though a number of my recent works have featured flute and/or percussion, it’s been a couple years since I’ve written a vocal piece.  I’m looking forward to composing for the voice and working with text again. (Spoiler alert: one of my other commissions for next season also involves voice – check back soon for details!)  I’m also excited about the prospect of writing for harpsichord, which I’ve never before had a chance to include in any of my works.  If you’ve got any favorite works involving harpsichord, I’d love to check them out, so please share in the comments section!

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Women and Music Volume 18 Now Available!

Women and Music: a Journal of Gender and Culture has just released a new volume, which includes my review of Jennifer Kelly’s book In Her Own Words.  The journal is available from the publisher or from digital services such as Project Muse, but here’s an excerpt from my article to get you started:

In the introduction to In Her Own Words: Conversations with Composers in the United States, Jennifer Kelly states that she asked each of her interviewees “whether she thought that there is a need for women-only concerts, festivals, and recordings” (6), a query that could easily be extended to books including only female composers. In the past two years, this controversial subject has received much debate in online new music circles due in part to articles on NewMusicBox and in the New York Times’s opinion series “The Score.” Throughout those writings and the present collection of interviews, three distinct perspectives appear on the existence of women-only concerts, recordings, books, and similar projects: the first views such activities as a potential counteragent to poor representation in other venues; the second recognizes them as the celebration of a particular tradition within a larger community; and the third believes they actually contribute to the marginalization of women.

In Her Own Words grew out of the first position, yet the second underlies both the author’s attitude toward the project and the conversations she has with her subjects. In the introduction, Kelly includes an account of how she came to write the book, recalling:

As late as the 1980s in my high-school curriculum, women were not addressed as creators of music, and into the 1990s, when discussing women composers in college, the professors brought in “special” books. When I later became a professor myself, the standard textbooks still did not yet adequately represent my own gender; so I, too, brought in “special” books for the class. (2)

The author’s frustration with her limited exposure to female composers led her not to write a standard text better integrating women but rather to create another “special” book.

In Her Own Words—a book I believe is indeed special, extraordinary even, on many levels—contains twenty-five interviews that present a diverse overview of American women composers across the past eight decades. The book provides an unprecedented exploration of these composers’ music, experiences, philosophies, and more, with the goal of “bringing a more informed performance to an audience and more informed discussion into the classroom” (1). With this collection, Kelly clearly hopes to ameliorate the ignorance concerning female composers that she herself experienced. She reveals: “Without the benefit of having studied women composers as a matter of course throughout my education, I mistakenly believed that the number of talented women in music was small and their few musical scores worthy of study were already on the library shelves” (2). While the situation may be improving, women are still not adequately represented in textbooks, libraries, concerts, or other outlets through which audiences learn about music. Ideally, this text and others like it will mark an important step toward greater inclusion of women in mainstream studies of works while also encouraging musicians to program more music by female composers…

Visit the University of Nebraska Press website to find out more or to get your copy of Woman and Music: a Journal of Gender and Culture!

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HICO/CCI Concert on 12/6

The Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra (HICO) is pairing up with Connecticut Composers, Inc. to present a concert of music by local composers.  Five works were selected through a score call, and I am happy to announce that my Scenes from Battleship Potemkin will be performed with works by Robert Carl, Ryan Jesperson, Ken Steen, and Frank Vasi.  After the concert, the audience will vote on their favorite work on the program, and the winning composer will be commissioned by HICO for the 2015-2016 season.  Hope to see you there!

December 6 at 7:30 pm
Charter Oak Cultural Center
Hartford, CT
Tickets: $20 General/$10 Student and Senior
Tickets can be purchased HERE or at the door

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Recent Recordings/Publications

It’s been a busy year for recordings and publications! This past spring, Parma Recordings released my solo percussion work St. Teresa in Ecstasy (performed by Mike Lunoe) on their Parma Music Festival Live 2013 digital album.  The collection is available through iTunes here.  This summer, The Society of Composers, Inc. released their fiftieth volume of the Journal of Scores, which includes my First Praise alongside the music of 7 fantastic composers.  This fall/winter, a review I wrote of Jennifer Kelly’s collection of interviews In Her Own Words: Conversations with Composers in the United States will be published in the journal Women and Music: a Journal of Gender and Culture.  I’ll be posting a brief excerpt from this review soon, but for anyone who might be interested: Kelly’s book is a great collection of interviews with a diverse group of female composers, and I highly recommend it!