Archive for March, 2011

On the Not-So-Glamorous Life

My fellow singing waiter Mark Hernandez notified me (and all his other Facebook friends) of this cutting “dark bio” from regional opera performer Robert Orth:

Robert Orth’s “Dark Biograpy”

While it’s tongue in cheek (and damn funny) it offers an honest glance into the not-so-glamorous life of most working musicians that’s much more common than the still-not-as-glamorous-as-you-might-think lives of the brand name soloists in the classical music world. Consider the countless hours of practice and numbers of auditions Mr Orth had to endure to get to even this level, then realize how many fail to even get this far, and you can see why any father worth his salt would encourage alternative means of getting by.

But we do it anyway. Because, for the most part, it’s a lot of fun. And if we’re really lucky we get to participate in something amazing, perhaps even enduring. And sometimes, even if it’s neither amazing nor enduring, even if it’s getting paid to sing the same Puccini aria you’ve sung dozens of times before, while wearing a name tag and polyester apron and pretending to be a waiter at an annual reward dinner for the regional association of  morticians, the enthusiastic cheers of the crowd, genuinely appreciative of  the talents and skills you’re sharing, will make it all worthwhile.


Mar 2011

Schick Machine: A One (White) Man Blue Man Group

Tryouts for the SCA? No! It's Schick Machine!

Part sculpture, part monodrama, part concerto for virtuoso percussionist, Schick Machine is a genre defying performance piece that combines its disparate elements into a surprisingly delightful 80 minutes. This collaboration of composer Paul Dresher, percussionist Steven Schick, instrument builder Daniel Schmidt and writer Rinde Eckert may not be life altering theater, but it is a heck of a lot of fun.

Entering the space, one is confronted by an array of large contraptions with a sole tinkerer, Schick, wearing an apron out of a 19th century laboratory, fussing with a batch of blueprints. Soon this rustling and crinkling of paper seems to take a life of its own. Surely it’s deliberate, a transition into a world of noise and sound. The fun of the show comes from discovering how each of these strange machines, with the assistance of audio looping technology, works to produce a unique sonic landscape. Music comes from less imposing devices as well. Schick teases polyrhythmic miniatures out of wood blocks, metal hoops, modified organ stops, and an entire pantry of kitchen implements.

The evening is oh-so-slightly held together by a few short snippets of narration that identify this inventor as an isolated genius who has forfeit human relations in an obsessive effort to create this machine that will “reconcile the past with the future” (isolated geniuses are something of a recurring theme in Eckert’s work). If these bits of spoken text were the crux of the piece, they may well be criticized as lacking substance, but to my ear, Read the rest of this entry →


Mar 2011

Some better advice for young artists

This link is just too good to stay hidden in the comment section of my last post. My friend Natalie has great advice for young artists hoping for a career in the capricious lotto game of artistic endeavors. Her points are specific, useful, insightful, and should be required reading for those folks who, in fact, can’t imagine themselves doing anything else than pursuing their muse. Share widely.


Mar 2011

Advice to a young composer: “Get a real job”

There comes a time in one’s life (usually around junior year of high school) when you have to answer the question, “What do you want to do with your life?” More often, this question comes in the form of “What colleges are you looking into?” and “Have you picked a major yet?”. But the underlying issue remains “Now that you’re 16, what activity do you plan on pursuing for the next 50 years?”

For me the answer was obvious. I had been studying music intensely since second grade. I had been performing in musicals since third grade (including a professional regional production). My listening habits, which had started with Bernstein and Sondheim in elementary school, had progressed through Gershwin, Stravinsky, and Bartok in high school. Simple. I was going to be a composer of orchestral and musical theater works.

That is, until my piano teacher talked some sense into me.

Read the rest of this entry →


Mar 2011

A Brief History of Love and Poetry – World Premiere April 23rd

I’m excited to announce that on April 23rd several of my new pieces will be premiered in San Francisco in an evening length concert dedicated to my work as a composer. A Brief History of Love and Poetry is a song cycle I composed late last year for baritone and mezzo soprano. It’s a setting of five love poems spanning a 150 year period, each expressing a different aspect of human relationships. Cary Ann Rosko and Robert Stafford will be singing with Keisuke Nakagoshi on piano.

In addition to the song cycle, there will be the first public performance of my string quartet, excerpts of my upcoming opera Failing That, and excerpts from the opera adaptation of Alice in Wonderland I wrote for Cinnabar Theater. A casual reception with snacks and drinks will follow.

For more information, please visit this page:

A Brief History of Love and Poetry


Mar 2011