My work A Forest That is a Desert with text by Kendra Preston Leonard was one of nine works accepted into the Project: Encore Catalog of Contemporary Choral Music this quarter. Works are chosen by a jury of professional choral conductors based on their artistic merit, idiomatic choral writing, and programmability. This is my fourth work selected for inclusion in the catalogue, and I am happy to have my music in the company of so many wonderful composers!
In 2019-21, I was fortunate enough to participate in the American Opera Project’s Composers and the Voice program. As part of the program, Fellows wrote songs for six resident singers that were workshopped, and then a sampling were to be performed in May 2020. Given the pause on live performances due to COVID-19, that concert was not to be. But, AOP rose to the challenge and made superb video recordings of the selected pieces. Those videos are now available to watch for free on AOP TV.
These include performances of three songs that I wrote:
“Medusa’s Nightmare” from the in-progress opera Protectress (libretto by Kendra Preston Leonard)
Augusta Caso, mezzo-soprano and Mila Henry, piano
Cider with text by Amanda Hollander
Timothy Stoddard, tenor and Kelly Horsted, piano
Idyll with text by Siegfried Sassoon
Brandon Coleman, bass-baritone and Lisa Edwards, piano
I hope you’ll take a listen to these as well as the pieces by my fantastic colleagues and friends! Cider and “Medusa’s Nightmare” aren’t in the e-store yet, but if you’re interested in getting the music, reach out!
DechoVoce (Katherine Petersen, voice and Jacob Swanson, sax) recently recorded “Epilogue” and included in on their December 2021 recitals. I really appreciate them making this beautiful recording and wanted to share it with you! They also have a live recording posted to their YouTube channel, along with other music by some wonderful composers. Follow them for more exciting sax repertoire!
My SATB choral work “Shadow Reel to Last Breath” is one of four winners in the 2022 Choral Composer Amplify Project, led by Sarah Kaufold. Voices of Concinnity, the chamber choir affiliated with the Consonare Choral Community, will record the works in the coming weeks. Video releases will be coming in early spring – more details soon!
“Shadow Reel to Last Breath” is the second movement of A Forest that is a Desert, which sets text by the fabulous Kendra Preston Leonard. This will be the first recording of the second movement, and I’m very thankful to Voices of Concinnity for bringing this movement to life!
The first and third movements were premiered by the Choral Arts Initiative in 2019. Videos of those are available if you’d like to check them out!
Dangerous Coats was written in 2020 for Joshua Thomas’s Smart Repertoire project. Thomas and a consortium of 49 saxophonists commissioned this work for baritone saxophone and piano, which is intended for the developing saxophonist. Now that the period of exclusivity is over, the work is available in my e-store.
If you’d like to take a listen, here’s a video Thomas recorded of the work to present as part of the International Conference for Saxophone Pedagogy and Performance in 2021.
The Ensemble for These Times has released the last installment of their online summer listening series, “Ensemble for These (Summer) Times.” This fourth program features music by composers who will be included in their upcoming 2020-21 season—and I am happy to be one of them!
A Forest that is a Desert for a cappella SATB choir is now available on the e-store! This three-movement work sets new poetry by Kendra Preston Leonard about caring for a parent suffering from dementia. It was commissioned by the Choral Arts Initiative for their 2019 PREMIERE|Project Festival, where they premiered movements I and III. A video of the performance can be seen below.
It is an amazing joy for a composer when a performer or ensemble chooses to live with a piece through multiple performances, particularly if it is a work the creator feared was destined for the desk drawer. That was the case with “Epilogue,” a short duet that gained a new life when it was adopted by mezzo-soprano Megan Ihnen, saxophonist/composer Alan Theisen, and violist Michael Hall.
I first met these talented and passionate musicians through Twitter, where Megan had posted an inquiry about works for voice and saxophone for an upcoming recital she was planning with Alan. I shared “Epilogue” with her, on the off chance she might be interested. I had written the work years before as part of a speed-composing concert at The Hartt School when I was a student there. Aside from a second performance in a version arranged for viola, the piece had laid dormant for years until Megan and Alan added it to their duet’s growing repertoire. Megan also performs regularly with violist Michael Hall, and the two of them began presenting the viola arrangement.
Thanks to the love these three have shown this piece, it is now my most performed work. They have presented it at music festivals, universities, churches, libraries, other venues across the country. I’m so grateful to Megan, Alan, and Michael for not only giving this piece a life I never expected it could have, but also for all of the inspiring work they do on behalf of the contemporary music community.
If you’d like to hear a performance of the work, I’m including a video of Megan and Alan doing the saxophone version. You can also check the Events section of the site for future performances!
Megan Ihnen and Alan Theisen Present will perform a set of works for voice and saxophone at the Oh My Ears New Music Festival in Phoenix, AZ on 2/1/19 at 7 pm. These fantastic performers are true champions of new music, and have been actively touring their first program, “This World of Yes,” for the past couple of years. Their OME performance will include compositions from that program as well as more recent works:
Elegy (Deserted) by Jennifer Bellor
The Little Mouse Elder by Kincaid Rabb
There are so many tictoc from When you touch by Alan Theisen
From All of Our Love This Was Lost by Nick Zoulek
Dark Star by Garrett Schumann
For the past year and a half, Kendra Preston Leonard and I have been creating a new chamber opera, “Marie Curie Learns to Swim.” This project will be brought to life next month with a premiere by the Hartford Opera Theater on April 28 as part of their “Speaking Her Truth” event. For this performance, HOT is partnering with my long-time collaborators the Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra to present our new opera along with another world premiere—“Four Songs for Lady Macbeth,” also with text by Kendra—and a reprise of my mini-opera “Trigger.”
Producing new opera in particular is a very large undertaking, and we need your help!
If you are interested in the work Kendra and I are doing—
If you value HOT and HICO’s contributions to the Greater Hartford area—
If you love opera—
If you want to support new music—
If you believe in fostering new art by women—
Then please help us bring this event to audiences!
You can help by:
- Purchasing a ticket and attending the 4/28 performance
- Donating to the online fundraiser run by HOT
- Donating to the online fundraiser run by HICO
- Sharing these links and encouraging your friends to support this project
Any way you can help is greatly appreciated by everyone involved.
As a little bonus, if you donate to one of the two fundraisers above, I will send you PDFs of the score and parts for one of my solo or chamber pieces at no charge! Just make your donation and then send me an email here or contact me on social media with the name of the solo or chamber piece you would like to receive. If you donate to both fundraisers, I’ll send you two pieces!
Thanks for your support, and I hope to see you on 4/28!
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!
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.
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.
In preparation for the premiere of Iseult Speaks on 2/20 by Charity Clark and the Hartford Independent Chamber Orchestra, I’ll be posting a new recording from the piano reduction each day. Nine of the thirteen movements were previewed by Charity with pianist Blake Hansen at my recital on 2/5/16, and the recordings will be posted to the playlist below. Follow me on social media to see announcements when new tracks are added, or listen to the full set of preview recordings here after Friday 2/19. Then, if you’re near Hartford, come check out the premiere of the chamber orchestra version on 2/20!
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!
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…
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
Tickets: $20 General/$10 Student and Senior
Tickets can be purchased HERE or at the door
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!
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!
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!