Archive for April, 2010

Where often is heard…

I have to admit, before I started actively doing this composition thing, I was pretty naive about the whole endeavor. This is gonna sound pretty stupid and potentially a bit arrogant, but I figured that since you never heard much about new music or new operas, not many were being written, or at least not many good ones were being written. I thought I could just waltz in, write some stuff that was pretty good, and it would just get picked up and performed, simply by virtue of being pretty good.

Now I realize that all sorts of people are writing pretty good works, in many cases amazing works, and you just don’t hear about them because… well… because you just don’t. Turns out that just writing good work isn’t enough, not nearly enough.

In today’s New York Times there’s an article about an opera completed in 1978 that the composer had worked on for three years. And when he finished it, guess what happened?


The company that had commissioned it went under and the piece went back into his desk or bookshelf or attic, or wherever you put stuff that you’ve slaved over for three years. Probably filed under “D” for “Disappointment, Crushing”. It didn’t see the light of day for another 12 years when the composer decided to self fund a recording of the second act  in 2000.

Then something amazing happened.  It won the Pulitzer Prize.  The fricking Pulitzer Prize. And then guess what happened…

Ummmm…. Nothing?

For another ten years, absolutely nothing. Even with a Pulitzer in his back pocket, he still couldn’t get any opera companies to put it up.  Back in the file it went, this time under “P” for “Produced, WhothehelldoIneedtosleepwithinordertogetthisthing”

Finally, this season, Santa Fe Opera is going to do a full production.  Not to get all Debbie Downer, but that’s thirty two years and one major prize after it was composed.

I guess it’s a success story. The kind that makes you wonder if maybe you’d rather try succeeding at something else…


Apr 2010

Movement two is released. Take a listen…

The second movement of my string quartet has been mixed and edited and the program notes have been written up.

And if you haven’t yet listened to the first movement, check it out here:

The third movement is mostly finished and will be released very soon.


Apr 2010

Review: …and Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi

There’s a lot to like in Marcus Gardley’s …And Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi, a co-production of Playwright’s Foundation and Cutting Ball Theater. There’s a top notch cast, a beautiful set, gorgeous integration of very well sung spirituals, and more than a few breathtaking moments. It is, perhaps, an embarrassment of riches, and at the risk of appearing an ingrate, I can’t help but wish that the playwright had spent a bit more time honing these moments into a leaner, more focused piece.

Gardley knows he’s throwing a lot at us; he calls his piece a gumbo, a melange of characters and situations, a cross between storytelling and dream poem. The narrative is loosely based on the Demeter myth set towards the end of the Civil War. In the original, the earth goddess Demeter walks the earth to rescue her daughter Persephone, who has become the queen of Hades (it’s unclear how interested Persephone is in being rescued). Read the rest of this entry →



Apr 2010