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!
I am excited to report that I was chosen as the Alternate Winner for Region II in this year’s SCI/ASCAP Student Commissioning Competition for my work First Praise. A full list of the winners can be seen on SCI’s website at http://societyofcomposers.org/index.php.
I’m pleased to announce that my paper “Disruption and Development: Pitch Processes in the Music of Ellen Taaffe Zwilich” has been selected for inclusion in the 2014 Society for American Music Conference in Lancaster, PA on March 5-9. The SAM will be presenting Dr. Zwilich with an honorary membership at the conference and was particularly interested in research about this illustrious composer. My paper will be presented on the “Compositional Processes” session, which is tentatively scheduled for Friday, March 7 at 10:30 am. I’ll have more details about the conference after the New Year, so check back!
This Saturday, Nov. 2, my fixed media work “Not One Would Care” will be included in the New Horizons Music Festival at Truman State University (Kirksville, MO). The Festival includes a number of traditional concerts as well as a gallery show with art by Nicholas Naughton and electroacoustic music selected from a score call. The exhibition is entitled “Disasters of War”, and my work, which was among those chosen to accompany the prints, was inspired by Sara Teasdale’s post-apocolyptic poem “There will come soft rain”. The art will be on display in the Truman Art Gallery with the selected pieces on loop from 12-6:30 pm. More information about the Gallery Concert and all other events of the Festival can be found online at http://music.truman.edu/newhorizons/.
On August 15-17, I will be heading up to Portsmouth, NH to participate in the Parma New Music Festival/SCI Region I Conference.
My friend and frequent collaborator, Mike Lunoe, will be attending to perform my “St. Teresa in Ecstasy” for solo gyile on Friday, Aug. 16 at 11 am. The concert will be held at St. John’s Church in Portsmouth, NH and is free to the public. If you can’t make it out (or if you want a preview of the piece), you can check out one of Mike’s previous performances of the work on Youtube.
Additionally, the Boston New Music Initiative has selected the Pierrot ensemble version of “First Praise” for inclusion on their concert at the festival. That event will be held at the same venue at 2 pm on Aug. 16.
Lastly, I will be presenting my paper “Disruption and Development: Pitch Processes in the Music of Ellen Taaffe Zwilich”. The paper is a small portion of my dissertation research, on which I am currently hard at work.
A full schedule and other important information can be found online at Parma’s website. Hope to see you there!
My First Praise for mixed chamber ensemble was recently honored with the CUNY Graduate Center’s Robert Starer Composition Award, which is given annually to an exceptional student work. The official Music Department announcement can be viewed here.
First Praise was written for the Cygnus Ensemble, who premiered the work in 2012 during a residency at the Graduate Center. The work is scored for flute, oboe, violin, cello, guitar, and mandolin. An alternation version for Pierrot ensemble was premiered in this past January on the Firebrand Concert Series as part of their local composers spotlight.