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  • Writer's picturePeter Dayton

3.5.20 Concert Recaps, Progress on new works, and 1-Week Album Countdown


-Congrats to the Opera Alchemy cast of MAY SHE | SHE MAY!

-Saxophone Sonata: a second movement complete

-Aspects of Landscape: 7 days away!


Dear Friends,

What to say? I am so happy and grateful for everyone involved with and everyone who came to my birthday concert - all approximately 90 of you! When I wrote the program notes and the some of the marketing language for the concert and talked about the need for friends and comrades during a dark, cold time, I was mostly thinking of the weather and early sunsets. I hope, with the help of art, friends, and love, we will weather the storms of what has been a very dark and hard winter, even though I have been given such a luminous community.


What a truly remarkable experience! I was so honored and humbled to be able to share my music with so many of you, and to work with so many fine musicians in bringing to life multiple world premieres.

While some of the videos from the To Celebrate the Need: New Vocal Music concert are still in progress, you can see most of them here in this post or on my YouTube channel. A huge thank-you to Valerie Hsu, Vince Sandroni, Ben Hawker, Jason Buckwalter, John Scherch, Aaron Thacker, James Mitchell Brown, Ross Tamaccio, and Shona Goldberg-Leopold for their marvelous musicianship, for bringing to life these challenging works!

I was especially excited to have the chance to perform my Whitman piece The Need of Comrades with its originally-intended voice parts of countertenor, tenor, and baritone for the first time. The piece was a powerful way to end the evening, and drove home the concert's central message of the need for companionship and friends. I certainly felt an overflowing of that on that Saturday. Thank you to all who were part of that special night.

Photographer Rob Clatterbuck took a bunch of stunning photos, as well!


Congrats to the Opera Alchemy cast of MAY SHE | SHE MAY!

Left to Right: Valerie Hsu, Orianna Falla, Hannah Wardell, Robert Ellsworth Feng, Peter Dayton, Arianna Arnold

Taking place only one week after my birthday concert, it was wonderful to have Opera Alchemy (follow them on Facebook) take on my short Gertrude Stein opera. Singers Arianna Arnold (Gertrude), Orianna Falla (May), and Hannah Wardell (Mabel) and pianist Valerie Hsu brought to life the origin story of one of America's great modernist writers in the glamorous setting of the George Peabody Library. After performances in a cider brewery in Nashville and at The Cork Factory in Baltimore, MAY SHE | SHE MAY returned to Peabody 4 years after its premiere as part of the Opera Etudes program. Congratulations to all of the Opera Alchemy singers also for their excellent scene performances, including bass Robert Ellsworth Feng.


Saxophone Sonata: a second movement complete

This has certainly been a busy time, but somewhere in there I am finding a few moments now and then to continue to work on a saxophone sonata of substantial scope, and have just finished another movement of the piece with a fourth movement finale clocking in at about 6'30". This joins the second movement for solo saxophone and piano resonance for a current total runtime of about 13'00". Writing piano parts is also a challenge for me (and, either ironically or fittingly, the part always ends up being a challenge for the pianist too!), so this movement feels like a particular triumph to have as a completed draft. Looking back in my manuscript, sketches to this took place somewhere between the middle of September and the end of October, since I left this movement for a while and completed at least two other pieces in between (eek)! Even though there are still the first and third movements to compose, the piece like it is coming together, and I can't wait to pass it off to the brilliant saxophonist Kyle Blake Jones to bring it to life (though there is another time-sensitive project on the horizon for further John Hitchens music in May... more on that!)


Aspects of Landscape: 7 days away!

The release of "Aspects of Landscape: Music inspired by the world of John Hitchens" is on track to take place at the opening of John Hitchens's 80th birthday retrospective at the City Art Gallery of Southampton in England on March 12th. The release may be a week away, but Doug and I are, as they say, "going on a jetplane" on this Friday! We're excited to spend some time soaking up the culture and excitement of London before the exhibition, where I will be performing From Sombre Lands and the solo piano version of Letters for John. You've heard all this before, though. It's just finally happening, after years of planning and work (not only on my part, but on the part of everyone involved). A huge thank you to my remarkable collaborators and performers: James Cameron Dennis, Keith Christopher and the Aireborn Studio Orchestra, Alan Buxbaum and the Peabody Symphony Orchestra, and Christopher Lowry!

We haven't even gone over the first time, but there are already plans to return in May for a performance of Grounds in the exhibition space, as well as a new piece (if I'm able to write it in time)!


Thank you for continuing to read my ramblings and recaps. With this trip being the last big-ticket item for a while, I'm looking forward to sharing many more new photos and new bits of music. The rest of this year and the next already has plans for further concerts, recordings, and collaborations. Since we're going to England, it seems only right to end with: "keep calm and carry on!"


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