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!