Musings on the Creative Process

The artist looks at a canvas or an empty notebook (with or without staff paper) and sees infinite possibilities. For me, the paralyzing force at the beginning is because of a lack of ideas. Instead, it is the great question, "Which direction, if taken, will be worth the most?" Now, this leads into another question, "What worth can music have in the first place?" It seems like the majority of listeners believe that music has a purpose; however, it varies greatly among them. Many see it as a form of entertainment, others fall close to worshiping it, and then there are many who desire nothing more than background noise so that they do not have to face silence. I personally do not see music as such, though I realize that music has to have some sort of entertaining feature to maintain attention, can be worshipful and bring spiritual experiences to many people including myself, and by nature fills silence naturally. Yet, I still do not have an answer for one reason why music should be written, and that is fantastic. I lean towards creating works that introduce fresh sound worlds, invigorate the spirit, and explore how both tradition and experimentation can come together in a work. But whatever the case, none of this really tells us anything about the empty canvas. Returning to the first question, when we decide a purpose, now we need to make the choice of what we must do to achieve that end. Or not. Honestly, I often improvise. Or I start to do stream-of-consciousness writing (in words).  In the end, the direction we need to take is to take a direction. The first thing an artist needs is material.

Now I have this schematic of the digestive system that will also symbolize the Passion story of Jesus Christ. How did I get there? I thought that it was strange that the wording about the Resurrection is that death would be "swallowed up" in life. For me, I chose this as inspiration because there are a lot of decisions that I didn't want to make myself. The added bonus is that no matter which way the project turns I still have a religious component to it, fulfilling one of my joys in composing. How does this topic decide musical things for me? In this case, it gives me form. I have three parts of the Passion, suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, the death on the Cross, and the Resurrection. To swallow food, there are similarly three phases. This tells me that I can have three movements to the work. Then, I study how food is swallowed. Food is moistened by saliva, ground into pieces, and falls to the back of the throat. There is nothing emotional about those things, but I can make textures in the music that first become mushy and lose their form, then dissonantly grind one note against another, and finally let the movement have some sort of release, perhaps using some sort of balanced binary form. In other words, the form is AB and coda with A material. Yet, the one complication is, "How can I relate this to the suffering in the Garden?" Because I already have form from the digestive element, I simply apply different emotions related to willful suffering throughout the movement. Yes, it is quite dark, but I think of harmonic language, melodic content, and rhythmic motives can show hesitation, nervousness, anxiety, and at the fore, pain, and adjust my form accordingly. I believe that emotions can sometimes be mapped onto the physical experience of the performers, so when I write these types of passages, I think of how the violin bow will attack the notes, how the clarinet wind will feel as it articulates and how the fingers will feel as they noodle around the instrument, and how the piano hands will touch the keys (or bang the keys). If you ask any of my performers who have played this sort of music, they agree that some moments require suffering or patience. I assure them that it is completely intentional.

Another consideration in the creative process is how God created the universe. He first took material and formed it. Then He shaped it with all sorts of land and water features. Then He created opposition, setting the light apart from darkness. Then life started to happen. In my example, I gave the piece a form. I shaped it to some degree, and I plan to shape it more as time goes by (which still happens while we are on the earth--tectonic plates are still shifting!). Now, I need to have opposition. The most primitive opposition in the toolbox is sound and silence. Then come the differences between the sounds. I have at my disposal high sounds and low sounds, long durations and short durations, timbre varieties, articulation, and dynamics with which I can create opposing forces. Then, I have more complex tools to continue this work that deal with how our mind processes melody, harmony, and meter. This is where the second moment of writer's block hits. "What do I do with all these choices?!" The answer depends on the approach taken. I chose to use fourths and fifths to represent perfection and godliness, rooting it into the perfect interval association from the Medieval ages, and I chose to make minor 2nd configurations into a suffering motive. The task for me is to give the piece life by creating some sort of interaction between these two elements that persists throughout the work, at least for this piece. In traditional narrative form, one of the two ideas would triumph over the other, as if it were battle. I could I have chosen to make godliness triumph over suffering. Yet, Christ chose to keep the wounds in His hands and His feet, which meant that it might not be about putting the suffering behind necessarily. The suffering itself had value. I chose to end the piece by combining perfect fifths and fourths with dissonant seconds, especially in the piano, to create what I personally believe are rich, beautiful sonorities. My oppositions mold into one to become a living thing, as body and spirit come together, first for the spirit to subjugate the body but then to be united eternally in resurrection.

I referred to my thesis piece, Swallowed Up, in that creative process. Of course, there are many decisions to be made, but ultimately the secret to the creative process is making decisions that will impact the course of the music-making, even if it may lead to disaster. I completely scratched my first version of the first movement. I said that I wanted to imitate mushiness in the music. I used a system to increase harmonic fuzz, and it resulted in something that did not work when it came time to make substantial melodies (which I valued in this piece). The third movement also had several prototypes that were well under par. Without those choices, I would not have formed the resultant work.

This is one way to write music. I like metaphors because they give me structure in the endless choices I need to make. Mine are scriptural because my mind is there most often; however, I know of other composers who have used resources such as the Theory of Evolution, The Art of War, painting techniques, and all sorts of word writing practices to formulate their creative processes and specific pieces. If you are an artist, what is your metaphor?

Change of Pace (what's new and thoughts on relationships...)

I call this post a change of pace, not only referring to completing a Master's degree and making the move to Kansas City this summer, but also to the content of this blog. While I doubt that this blog (or my site for that matter) are high traffic areas, I realize that my blog currently reads like an online diary. If you want that sort of information, find me on Facebook :). I will still give brief updates here, but I'm going to dedicate my posts more to my thoughts and feelings on composing music, the music industry, interesting sounds I hear, maybe inspirational topics, etc. In other words, it will be much more analytical and reflective than summarizing.

Alas, here's my brief life update. I graduated in May from the University of Miami with my Master's. Prior to this, my music was featured on Refreshing the Feeling, my recital project, Clarinova, a clarinetist-composer concert, New American Voices, a concert of art songs, the "Prelude Concert" before the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra concert in March, and... that's it. After graduation, I went to Italy for the ALBA Music Festival, where my piece In the Mind of Energy was premiered by Transient Canvas. After much gelato and musicking, I went to Madrid and stared at paintings and architecture for a few days. And this upcoming Sunday my thesis piece will be premiered by PULSE Trio in Blue Ridge, Georgia. I wrote five pieces in the past five months, and four of them in the past two months. It was about an hour of music (the electronics piece goes from 8-30 minutes).

I constantly use music to define, explore, and celebrate intriguing relationships. I am fond of counterpoint, a sinuous relationship between musical objects. The symbolism in my work helps me explore my relationship with God. Music also puts an aural definition on the stirrings I feel, the emotions that overcome me when at the height of composing (those days when things just flow spiritually and leap from mind to paper), and the more concrete relationships of time, space, and motion that become engaging research to me. By identifying, understanding, and tuning into the relationship I have with all these things, my music begins to have personal meaning to me. While I sometimes venture into extramusical realms, almost always the music itself carries a meaning detached from the "program." In fact, extramusical ideas most frequently appear in my work as structural frameworks for my music, giving me a vague road map that I can follow to navigate the compositional process. 

Relationships in music are best established through opposition. When one defines a relationship, it is most frequently assessed as strong, weak, romantic, cold, energetic, dull, and so forth. The common thread between these types of relationships is that they all have an opposite. In regards to music, experienced listeners already have heard a large assortment of relationships play out from the musical repertoire. Newly engaged listeners may not pick up on all the relationships that happen in music simply because of a lack of experience in the matter. There are often quotations from other pieces, styles being imitated, common historical figures, patterns, forms, progressions, harmonies, rhythms, and lyrics that introduce an extremely complex array of relationships that the ear and mind eventually comprehend and put together like an abstract language.  Good music will have a series of internal relationships and opposing forces to develop the work's own personal and nuanced dialect.

While "good music" is hard to define (and some musical radicals will reject the notion completely), it seems like the greatest criticisms from listeners and non-listeners alike have to do with whether or not they could identify with and enter into a relationship with the music. The standard way to create a healthy relationship with the listener is by giving them something and using that something to guide them through the work. That something might disappear at times, but it comes back in some shape or form. This guiding force creates directionality, a type of musical motion that the listener should hear and follow. The most common criticism I hear from teachers to students (and I'm guilty at times of it) is that this guiding, narrative form has been compromised by something of lesser value or that the piece never seems to get where it should have gone. The other criticism is that the relationship between the something and the rest of the music is too obvious and consequently boring. To be artful is to have craft. To be crafty is to never let the music become predictable. "Music that has something to say" for me translates to "Music that is interesting and surprising." A teacher taught me that style is composed of little tricks and surprises along the way. As the listener develops a relationship with the themes, melodies, and sounds of a work, they must be led towards the inevitable without it ever becoming predictable. The relationship established between the listener and directional music works best when dynamic, engaging, witty or clever (whether serious or humorous), and at the same time forward moving with a sense of purpose.

I'd love to talk about relationships in non-directional music, but this is enough for you and me to chew on (I'm sure it will continue to be on my mind). Until next time.

Opportunities

This year has so far been a year of doors opening. The Frost Symphony Orchestra began rehearsing my Four Miniatures and a Prelude for a Somewhat Large Chamber Orchestra last week, and it is exhilarating to hear them work on it. It is rare for most composers to have an orchestral piece rehearsed multiple times before a performance. The premiere of this work is on March 8th at the Gusman Concert Hall at the University of Miami. I'm grateful for this privilege to work with so many fine musicians.

Another great opportunity has come by way of members of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra. They will be performing my chamber ensemble piece strengthen the body/enliven the soul at their "Prelude" concerts March 24th and 25th at the Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami. The caliber of performers and the venue are the greatest I have experienced in my career (albeit beginning), and I look forward to that weekend.

A third concert will happen March 31st, hosted by clarinetist Jesse Gilday of Frost School clarinetist-composers. My work Stone in Hand will receive its third performance. Other concerts this semester will be tonight's SCI concert, where my experimental work [Breathe if needed] will be performed by Guillermo Ospina, Diego Matallana, and I and my Master's recital concert, featuring works that span my two years here in Miami. 

I am excited to have been chosen to attend the ALBA Festival in Italy this May and write for the bass clarinet-marimba duo Transient Canvas. I have never been to Europe, and I have always wanted to go. I booked a flight to go to Madrid on the return trip so that I can experience a little bit more of the continent.

I am currently working on my Barlow project, Swallow for clarinet, violin, and piano.. I have mentioned it before, but I am writing it for the PULSE Chamber Trio for their Blue Ridge Chamber Music Festival. I am excited to work with these amazing performers, including my clarinet teacher Dr. Margaret Donaghue-Flavin. Following this piece, I have yet to write a song cycle, a bassoon-violin duo, and the piece for Transient Canvas. There is much to do, and I am working constantly to accomplish everything. But all things work out well with faith and hard work.

I have been blessed to have the opportunities I have at the University of Miami. I am fortunate to have been recognized and commissioned by so many wonderful people and institutions. While it only scratches the surface of what is possible for composers, I know that University of Miami has provided me a unique experience through which I could excel. Equally important, I have had a marvelous time in Miami and have valuable friendships and have grown as a person and as a student of music and life. I am still in the process of choosing a doctoral program, but I intend to continue my studies. Onward and upward!

Fall 2016: A Summary

These past few months have been busy and insightful. I began teaching music theory to freshman and sophomore students at the University of Miami and learned how much time it takes to be a thoughtful grader. I enjoy teaching and look forward to continuing to teach hopefully as a career after all my studies. 

I focused my composition efforts over the past few months on revising earlier music and scores and preparing for doctoral applications. This year I have revised almost every score I have made since 2013, and I still need to further revise them. As I continue to revise scores, my vision for how a score should look improves, which is a two-edged sword. My scores tend to look better; however, I feel accountable to bring all my scores to the same level of quality. The most difficult part about making scores is the formatting changes that can happen without one being aware. Even if a composer tries to lock all the systems onto a page, it seems like something can move out of place and stay unnoticed until the scores are printed and sent out. Thankfully, paper is cheap, and if scores are printed out and looked at carefully (especially while listening to the music), a lot of these errors become manifest.

Even with that focus, I managed to write about nine minutes of orchestra music as an addition to Four Miniatures for a Somewhat Large Orchestra. In fact, I added a prelude and changed the title to Four Miniatures and a Prelude for a Somewhat Large Chamber Orchestra. My "Prelude" is based on merengue music. It uses 9 different rhythmic patterns that coexist to create a cumulative groove. However, I assigned each of these rhythmic patterns to instruments, wrote melodic lines to each pattern, and extended these rhythmic patterns to align only every 9 or 10 measures. Because the melodic lines do not repeat, the music constantly moves forward. To provide contrast and relief, the second part of the piece isolates material from the earlier section and arranges them in new ways. To end the piece, I have a start-stop idea after which all the parts repeat a one-beat idea and gradually fade out. As in most of my recent music, I explore counterpoint and form. I feel like counterpoint interests me the most and I always get excited to write it. I especially enjoy "blind counterpoint," meaning I follow the Stravinsky method of juxtaposition and see what the result will be. While I plan out much of my musical content, at times I copy and paste one segment of music against another and new perspectives emerge. Every time one line interacts with another, both lines are given further identity and purpose. Perhaps it is a symbol of our associations with others. Together we gain a stronger identity, as a group and individually, than if we focus on ourselves. If everyone has a voice and works unitedly, society blossoms. I focused on musical ideas for this piece; however, I accept this and other interpretations of my music!

The Atlantic Music Festival and Another Year in Miami

From late June to the end of July, I participated in the Atlantic Music Festival at Colby College in Waterville, Maine.  I had the opportunity to meet and briefly study with a handful of accomplished composers, and equally important I made friends with about 40 composers from around the world, all exploring unique styles and interests.  I look forward in keeping in touch with them as we all continue our educations--and I am sure we'll run into each other again.  During that festival I was able to have my piece strengthen the body/enliven the soul for Pierrot Ensemble performed.  Additionally, the AMF orchestra read my piece Four Miniatures for a Somewhat Large Orchestra and Justin Hickmott performed a tuba miniature I wrote in response to the art piece Cascades VIII in the Colby College Museum of Art.  It was worth the time and cost to go.

Now that the festival is finished, I will be focusing on some important commissions.  To my surprise and great joy, I was awarded a Barlow Commission, a grant to write a piece for the PULSE Chamber Trio featuring Margaret Donaghue (clarinet), Scott Flavin (violin), and Naoko Takao (piano).  The piece will be titled Swallow.  I form several connections based on this word.  First, the bird swallow is known as the "bird of freedom" because it dies whenever held captive.  Messiaen often used bird calls in his music because he believed that they were sacred, and I want to pay homage to him in this piece, using a swallow bird song as the main inspiration (not as strictly as he would though).  The second term refers to swallowing food.  After mashing food with the teeth, a swallow brings the food from the mouth into the body.  The food undergoes various filtration processes and eventually distributes nutrients to the whole body.  Thus, something is consumed to give energy to the whole.  The third view of the word "swallow" is scriptural.  Death is "swallowed" up in victory through the Atonement of Christ.  All bad things are swallowed up and made right through the Savior's power.  Related to the bird swallow and the digestive swallow, there is freedom through the sacrifice of the Son.  Finally, an anomaly "swallow" is the sea swallow.  Its sting is deadly, and fits the scenario in that manner.  But it fails to show how death is conquered, so I refrain from using its symbolism completely.  The extramusical will soon be translated and brought alive in music, and I look forward to working on the piece for the next month or so.

With the Barlow Commission, revisions to make before applying to doctoral programs and festivals, and the New American Voices commision, it will be a busy semester.  I am looking forward to writing, learning, and teaching this upcoming school year.  Until next time!

Preparing for the Atlantic Music Festival

Summertime in Miami has been enjoyable.  Working at a flower distribution warehouse by day and writing music by night has been a blast (seriously!), and since the last time I wrote by brother got married to his wonderful wife in North Carolina.  And though I could not see it, Seth Carlson premiered by work, Wend Your Way in Rockford, Illinois.  He has two more Midwest performances of the piece over the summer.

For the upcoming Atlantic Music Festival, I have written a piece for Pierrot Ensemble (without percussion) and for a chamber orchestra with a full brass section. My summertime music for the past two years has tended to be a bit more laid back and, for a lack of a better term, entertaining.  My Pierrot Piece strengthen the body/enliven the soul takes its inspiration from a beautiful  Latter-day Saint scripture:  

"Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul."- Doctrine and Covenants 59:18-19

This scripture, to me, also refers to sounds, and I use my music to celebrate the earth and creation.  

My orchestral piece, Four Miniatures for a Somewhat Large Orchestra, takes a four-note theme and presents it in different ways over each miniature.  The first movement focuses on intense, dynamic shifts.  The second movement is a scherzo created by pure juxtaposition of four-note iterations and long chains of repeated interval cycles derived from the theme.  The third movement, entitled "For Louis (Andriessen, Armstrong, XIV, etc.)" is influenced by boogie woogie and swing.  The final movement takes the four-note theme in a Feldman-esque reflection.

I leave to the Atlantic Music Festival on June 27th and will not return until the end of July.  I am looking forward to this opportunity to study with great composers, meet great people, and hopefully hear my music performed along with many other excellent pieces.  Though I probably will miss NIcaraguan cuisine and Cuban accents, it will be nice to explore Maine for the first time.  Until next time.

A Busy April and a Welcome May

The past month was extremely eventful.  It began with a joint recital with Morgan Denney and Monte Taylor.  I premiered Improvisations V: Two Track Mind on the clarinet, and Romance Sonámbulo received its third performance by Ryan Gardner, Elena Blyskal,, Andy Eshbach, Kevin Gregory, Josh Schwartz, Dana Kaufman, Javier Chacon, and Ryan Hecker.  It was a great evening that came together perfectly, despite a lot of last-minute problems.

Following this concert, Andrew Friedrichs and I premiered a free improvisation work based on the other improvisation piece.  Improvisations 5.2: Two Tracks for Two Minds takes the electronics settings for Improvisations V and assigns pitch and rhythm control to different keys.  The laptop performer gets to interact with the live performer by typing in the next cue.

And finally, Tony Boutté and Jared Peroune premiered Tarde del trópico, a setting of Rubén Darío's poem of the same name, at the New American Voices concert.  Meaning Tropical Evening, it gives the evocative and melancholy narrative of stormy weather over a tropical sea.  My piece won the New American Voices Competition, which means I will be able to write another piece for Tony Boutté. to be performed publicly.

With all these performances finished and with the school year over, it is time for a fresh start.  I will be attending the month-long Atlantic Music Festival starting at the end of June, and for that festival I will be writing a piece for Pierrot Ensemble and an orchestral piece.  Also, I will be writing a piece for Brian McKee and Diana Ramirez (bassoon and violin) and begin my thesis project.  It will be nice to compose without the burden of classwork.

Finally, there will be quite a few changes to my website as I prepare for the Atlantic Music Festival.  I plan to revise all of my scores, put score previews on each of my composition pages, and make an option for purchasing my music for those who have requested it.  I'm looking forward to making those changes, though it will be a large task!  When I'm not composing, working, or revising, I will be taking advantage of all that Miami has to offer!

Organ Writing and Electronic Improvisation. Why Improvise?

University of Miami has kept me extremely busy, but I recently was able to finish my piece for organ titled Wend Your Way.  It takes the popular Latter-day Saint hymn tune, "Come, Come Ye Saints" and depicts its historical background and message in four sections, moving from despair to confidence and hope in the Lord.  Writing for organ was an exciting experience; there are many peculiarities to the instrument, and it takes time to understand the registration (how the colors work and how to send the different keyboards to different pipes).  I look forward to writing more for the organ.

During this time, I also started to write an electronic piece.  This will be my first new electronic piece in a year, and I have enjoyed working on it.  In fact, it is a sequel to my last electronic piece Improvisations IV: An Appeal to the [SOUND] Masses.  The concept of these improvisations is to create a sound situation that the performer must learn and take advantage of in the performance.  Most of the sound comes from the performer and is electronically manipulated to create a background for the performer.  In Improvisations IV, the performer plays music that was looped sixteen times.  As the piece progresses, the loops shift to high and low registers and sometimes drop out to leave solo sections against a drone.  Improvisations V: Two-Track Mind uses two tracks to store the performer's live material.  The first track records twenty seconds of free improvisation from which a series of random complex rhythms are derived and juxtaposed by the program.  The second track takes the performer's music and spits it back out at different speeds.  For both pieces, the composer's blueprint is in its resultant style and its fixed overall form.  The challenge for the performer is to navigate through these situations and develop an instantaneous vision and direction for the piece.  Improvisations V will be premiered on April 9th   

I was surprised this past week to hear the question of "why" concerning this piece.  It is rooted in deep tradition.  Improvisation has always been integral to music, especially free improvisation in certain restricted environments.  For example, both jazz and Indian raga use extensive improvisation.  In fact, Western music highly incorporated improvised elements until the 19th century (and it is a real shame that composers cut it out from their compositions).  In the 20th century, Western music brought back improvisation through experimentalism.  American composers such as John Cage, Earle Brown, and La Monte Young challenged performers to engage in improvised and unconventional situations.  It could be said that the return of improvisation to the Western world is the hallmark American achievement of the 20th century, both through jazz and through the experimentalists.  But more importantly, improvisation allows performers to freely express themselves, unhinged by the dictates of the composer.  Not all performers will desire this opportunity, but I know countless performers who love to dabble in improvisation.  And it also requires submissiveness from the composer, who only provides the framework for the music itself.  Why not give a performer music that is flexible in form and free in nature?  Why not unleash the performer from the shackles of notation and give them guidelines, real notes to read, to lead them to successful express themselves?  My goal is to complete at least six of these improvisation with electronics works, each with a unique feel.  Thanks for reading; if you want to try out these improvisations, let me know!

A Warm Miami Winter

An update is well overdue here.  Much has happened in the past two months.  First and perhaps most exciting was my recital January 15th.  I was able to pull together a group of excellent performers who gave an amazing concert to a decent-sized crowd of friends and musicians in the Miami area.  On that concert, Stone in Hand was premiered by Julia Lougheed, Andy Eshbach, and Cynthia Burgess.  It was a great run-through for the premiere, and I look forward to its Virginia premiere with Julia Lougheed and also its Texas premiere by my good friend from BYU, Catelyn Gentry.  Premiered by Daniel Velasco, Andy Eshbach, Lee Seidner, Jordan Bidwell, and Brandon Guillen was Oh, That Light!, written for the Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival (and it was performed by amazing players who nailed it).  RF ISOLATION: Faraday Cage also had its public premiere despite being my oldest piece in the concert, which was masterfully done by Paige Towsey, Sara Arevalo, Lauren Miller, and Laura Jacyna. And my most performed piece, Thoughtsketches, received its Florida premiere from a new set of performers--Dana Kaufman, John Harris, Monte Taylor, and I.  Finally, four of Six Sax Pieces was performed by Matt Taylor, who gave a compelling Florida premiere of the work.  I am grateful for everyone who supported me and made the night possible.  Catalina von Wrangell provided the audio recording and video, which is indispensable to me as I share my musical ideas with others.

Since the concert, I have been writing my American Guild of Organist commission Wend Your Way, a theme and variations on "Come, Come Ye Saints."  It has provided a unique challenge to me because it deals with such a familiar theme--I have sang this hymn in church meetings since I was a young child.  But it has been a great experience to analyze both the text and music and gain new meaning from it.  I hope that my variations reflect the concepts that I have learned from the music and words.  This will likely be premiered by organist Seth Carlson at a joint-composer concert on April 9th with Morgan Denney and Monte Taylor.  More details on this concert are forthcoming!

In other news, I am a finalist for the New American Voices competition with my setting of Rubén Darío's Tarde del Trópico.  Mario Almonte will premiere this work at the New American Voices concert in Gusman Concert Hall at the University of Miami on March 26th.  It is an exciting opportunity to work with him and his pianist, and I'm looking forward to it.

And last, in preparation of my website's 2.0 version, I am revising all my scores, including a digital version of my handwritten Romance Sonámbulo, which is an interesting challenge.  I will have sample scores online and then my site will be finished.  But it is a huge project to deal with; as much as I enjoy it, I fear there is no end to the work I need to do!

I have been applying to summer festivals and such, and I look forward to the future.  Hopefully I'll have some news of those opportunities in my next post.  It's great to be in Miami, and I'm looking forward to continual sunshine and heat all year round.  Until next time.

The End of Another Year (and the beginning of another)

It's amazing to think back on all the adventures from this year.  Graduating from Brigham Young Unversity, touring with the BYU Wind Symphony to Mongolia, South Korea, and Japan, attending the Imani Winds Chamber Music Festival as an emerging composer in New York City, returning to Illinois and Tennessee for the summer, and beginning my Masters program at the University of Miami shows how busy the year has been.  

But my composing life featured my first concert of solely my music, my first four completed commissions  (including one to be performed in just two weeks and a fifth commission from the American Guild of Organists to be written next year), my longest continuous work at 14 minutes (Stone in Hand), my first two orchestral pieces (listen to the BYU Philharmonic Orchestra read my work And it fell), my first repeat performances (Improvisations IV was performed the most at three times this year on three different instruments), and the completion of 14 pieces total--many of which were recorded in audio and/or video or premiered.  I also created this website and began the revision of my earlier scores to make my music accessible to everyone on the internet.  I consider this year a success, but I hope to keep up with this pace!

As the new year approaches, I look forward to making resolutions to work even harder to write music that inspires and enlightens.  I believe that music is a powerful force to help people feel important feelings and have a vision of the human experience (and that experience to me reflects eternal truth).  I hope that I can learn how to better express these sentiments and point others to notice the beauty in all the sounds we hear.  I'll commit my goals to writing in my January post!

Finally, to start the new year, I will be having my own concert January 15th at the Bede Chapel on the University of Miami campus.  It features wonderful performers from the University of Miami and Julia Lougheed, who will perform in the piece she commissioned, Stone in Hand.  The concert will premiere Stone in Hand and a piece I wrote over the summer for the Imani Winds to read, Oh, That Light!.  If you are in the area, I'd love to see you there.  If not, I am looking into video streaming possibilities, so keep posted on Facebook.

Best of success to everyone on your resolutions this upcoming year!