Challenges

It continues to be a very busy time for, like, the last four years! It’s also been incredibly productive and transformative and at times it’s felt more like a roller coaster than anything else. I don’t particularly like roller coasters, but I do like how quickly the ride changes the energy. It’s hard to get stuck when you’re being tossed this way and that at unpredictable times.

Just this last week I had another rehearsal with the amazing early music ensemble Parthenia, who has commissioned my latest work Donne Songs Without Words, which they will premier next month. The piece is one of my choreographic scores, so the players are all moving while they play. It is VERY challenging and they are wonderfully game for the whole process. My challenge continues to be getting them all the materials they need to do the best they can. Things like making videotapes of the rehearsals and updated parts.  So the first time I tried to make a tape, we weren’t in a big enough room so I couldn’t get far enough back to get everyone in the shot. I also hadn’t yet figured out how to make the camera work before I got there, so I wasn’t confident that I could even make a recording. They didn’t have a videotaping class at the Conservatory. But this time we rehearsed in an amazing brownstone with 15 ft ceilings. There was plenty of room and I bought a tripod and read the manual – ah yes, the manual – and got everything working. Rehearsal was great but then it took me many hours over the weekend to figure out how to transfer the tape onto my computer. Oh, and now my backup drive is misbehaving so I’m not sure I have a backup, and on and on. Even though I should have been updating the score and parts, I ran out of time dinking around with all this other stuff. It’s important for us all to have it though, so worth the trouble.

I used the time that the video was transferring to practice for my upcoming tour with Philip Glass. Since retiring from his ensemble in 2004, I’ve been subbing in kind of regularly for the last 3 or so years. It’s great fun to play the music and go out on the road with them again, so I’m looking forward to this, but there is a LOT of music to practice. Some of it is new and some of it I haven’t played in more than 10 years. The biggest challenge is to get the chops back to play the music from the 70s, like excerpts from Einstein and Music In 12 Parts. That stuff is hard! And also really fun!

And on Friday night, the 30th, my new group, Ensemble 50 with Mary Rowell, violin, Jim Pugliese, percussion, and Kevin Norton, vibes with myself on piano, gave our first public performance on the Composers Now kickoff concert at The Cell. What an amazing group this is. We played a piece of Kevin’s called I Dig Facts Man, and opened with one of mine, Spice Mix 1. These pieces have a lot of improv in them, which is what this group does so well. And it all happens in the performance. Not that we don’t rehearse because we do, and we have to in order to be good, but the energy of the audience is what we need to really bring it. And we did. If there were photos or recordings made, I’ll post some here.

Oh, and two more rejection emails came last week, and I live to fight another day.