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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!

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June in Buffalo

I am very pleased to announce that I have been selected as a participant in the 2014 June in Buffalo Festival for emerging composers.  I will be in residence at the University of Buffalo on June 2-8 for the event, and my flute-percussion duet “Rituals and Superstitions” will be performed on one of the Festival concerts.  I am greatly looking forward to this exciting opportunity and will post more details as they become available.  Until then, general information about June in Buffalo can be found online at http://www.music.buffalo.edu/center21c/jib.

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Early March Activities

WestfieldFestivalOfMusic_Poster

The first two weeks of March will be a busy time for me! In addition to presenting my research about Ellen Taaffe Zwilich at the Society for American Music National Conference on March 7 (see an earlier post about this event here), I’ll be making trips to Westfield State University for their Festival of New Music on March 2 and Mansfield University for a residency with the Cadillac Moon Ensemble on March 10.

 As part of the Westfield Festival of New Music, the Boston New Music Initiative will be performing my First Praise.  I am very excited to work with the talented musicians of BNMI again and am fortunate they have chosen to present the work for the second time this season (the first being the Parma Music Festival/SCI Region I Conference back in August).  The concert will also feature works by Taila Amar, James Crowley, Sungji Hong, Cody Kauhl, Rodrigo Lima, Jeffrey Shivers, and Frederic Rzewski performed by BNMI and by the Connecticut-based Generous Ensemble.  In addition to participating in the concert, I will also be conducting a masterclass at the University and am greatly looking forward to meeting with the students.  

The following week I will head to Pennsylvania for a short visit at Mansfield University, where I will also have the opportunity to work with students.  While I am at the University, the NYC-based Cadillac Moon Ensemble will also be in residence and will be performing a program featuring premieres by Andrew Walters and myself.  Having heard a reading session this past week that included my new string duo You, As You Were Before You Existed and a number of other works written for the CME, I can guarantee they will put on a great show!

As if that was not enough to keep me busy, I’ll also be in Connecticut for the weekend portion of the Women Composers Festival of Hartford on March 6-9.  (Check back soon for a post about this staple of the Hartford music scene.)  I hope to see you at one or more of these fantastic events!

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SCI Journal of Music Scores

My sextet First Praise has been selected for inclusion in the SCI Journal of Music Scores.  Published by European American Music, the Journal of Music Scores is a juried anthology of music written by members of the Society of Composers, Inc.  I am honored to have my piece included alongside the following works:

Corey Keating – As the Night Blooms
Philip Schuessler – Monochrome Variations
Nolan Stolz – Princess Kaiulani
Bryce Cannell – Refractions
Federico Jes Bonacossa – Rivir
Jay Batzner – Silhouettes, Receding
Jacob Walls – Whitening Thirst

Check back for more details about when this volume will be available!