12.1.20 Winter is Coming
For my fellow Americans, I hope you were able to have as restful and restorative (and delicious) a holiday week/weekend as possible. Please continue to stay safe, distanced, masked, and keeping your hands clean. Simply put, there is no room in hospitals and ICUs for any more of us to get sick, even as there is a light at the end of the tunnel with some effective vaccines coming most likely to the public in 2021. Doug & I are still keeping well and keeping creative. If you happened to miss my pre-Thursday "musical holiday special," you can still watch it at any time using the embedded video below. I personally feel that Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas songs are evergreen (har har), and we've only begun the holiday season music bombardment. Hopefully, you'll join me for some of my own seasonal favorites.
The Winter Visit: More Persephone
Ancient Greek religion uses the abduction of Persephone (and the Goddess Demeter's subsequent mourning) to explain the change of seasons. I can't help thinking about this as we see (and feel on my morning runs) this change as winter approaches. Another movement of my Soprano+Flute+Viola+Harp Persephone song cycle for brilliant Hong Kong-based soprano Jessica Ng has been drafted, this time creating a setting of Edna St. Vincent Millay's Prayer to Persephone. Still two more movements to tackle, and I'm eagerly looking forward to sharing eventual performances and recordings of this piece and so many others I have written during this pandemic. It has been an exciting adventure writing for this idiosyncratic ensemble, and I owe this adventure to my longtime friend and collaborator Chris Lowry!
Friend Feature: New Video by Chris Lowry
Dating back to the Cretaceous Period that was my time at Vanderbilt University, composer/violist Chris Lowry has been a staunch advocate of my work (and of one work in particular, as you'll read about below!), and yesterday he released a new video of a performance from June 2019: the Trio Lagniappe's performance of Miguel Del Aguila's Submerged.
It's a powerful performance of a fiery, wide-ranging piece, and it is this ensemble that Chris and I have each been grappling with throughout the summer and fall. Chris and I regularly exchange thoughts on music (mostly in our individual creative ruts). This summer, when Chris reached out to me feeling overwhelmed by the idiosyncrasies of this collection of instruments, I was also struggling with finding a way into setting the Persephone poems that I had collected. I challenged Chris that I would also start writing my latest project for the same ensemble and when we were both finished (not necessarily a race, but get to it, buddy!) we'd, literally, exchange notes. So, as much as I have Amy Nam to thank for being always willing to help me better understand the world of the harp, it is Chris who helped start this whole project off. Enjoy the video and please subscribe to Chris's YouTube channel! You can find all sorts of fantastic compositions and performances there, including at least one video performance of my Fantasy, for viola and piano. Speaking of which...
New Music Shelf Viola Collection Available for Pre-Order
I was recently going through old blog posts, looking for a particular photo of one of my manuscripts for something when I came across an announcement that I had completely forgotten about thanks to COVID-19. My 2009 Fantasy, for viola and piano was selected to be part of the New Music Shelf Anthology of New Viola Music Vol. 1 sometime last year.
The blog post reminded me to check on the progress of this and it appears that the anthology is now available for preorder on the New Music Shelf website. So if you're looking to explore some new viola music (including my own and that of my former Vanderbilt colleague, composer Alyssa Weinberg), or maybe there's a violist in your life that you would like to purchase a gift for this holiday season, this collection might be a fun way to explore new music!
Still Time to Donate to the GA Senate Runoffs
Today is Giving Tuesday, which means organizations are hoping for donations, getting in on the Black Friday & Cyber Monday spending. If you do donate, I highly recommend you send some of your funds towards these gamechanging organizations that are working to enfranchise and mobilize voters in Georgia. Their work was pivotal in getting Biden his win and Georgia and getting the Senate races close enough for a runoff. I cannot stress enough. Mitch McConnell will make it impossible for legislative progress to happen in Biden's administration and people will suffer and die because of it. If it does not help the rich, McConnell doesn't care. We need a Senate free from his deadly control.
There is light at the end of the tunnel, and after we're all vaccinated, a big group hug for all of you! Stay strong, or at least persistent!