Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Can you super size my circus?

Tonight my wife and I joined over a thousand at Boettcher Concert Hall in Denver to hear John Corigliano’s latest symphony: Circus Maximus. In recent memory, very few new pieces have ever received the kind of attention as this one (John Adams new opera is another). Apparently this piece was commissioned by the University of Texas at Austin for a scandalously large sum of money. It was supposed to be a large work for band – it is that.

The defining element of this piece is the incredible use of spatial writing. Perhaps half the performers in this giant work were spread around the hall. Boettcher was particularly fantastic as it is a completely round hall with unlimited possibilities for staging true surround sound.

This was truly an amazing spectacle. Allan McMurray (celebrated wind conductor) described this as a theatrical piece of music. Quite true… The complexity of textures that were delivered to the ears from so many vantage points offered a truly unique experience. This could not be duplicated with any surround sound system I have ever heard.

I really loved the piece. It had a raw power that I rarely hear outside of Corigliano’s output. Although I am sort of a meats and potatoes, harmony and counterpoint sort of composer, I do enjoy the simple power and beauty of raw sound or even noise. Our auditory environment has become so complex in our mechanized and electric world. This work tapped into that energy and harnessed it beautifully.

Perhaps the most interesting thing for me to think about during the concert was how were others in the audience processing the piece. Much of the piece is ear splitting loud (it ends with a shotgun). Our audience was made up of a mix of ages and I was quite sure that many of them had never heard concerts that were so loud. A few people walked out at various points. At those moments I thought this piece was indeed pushing the boundaries of how outside the bounds of “normal” most audiences can stomach. I thought perhaps everyone was shell shocked and were just politely waiting till the 3rd act when Dave Grusin would perform some Bernstein. I was dead wrong. The standing ovation at the end of the piece was quite immediate and truly earnest. I have never witnessed such a positive response to a new piece of music (and I was present at the premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s percussion concerto). The mastery of this piece is that John Corigliano’s auditory vision is so unique and compelling that a hall filled with average concert goers overcame any inhibition to the “new” and came to instantly love something shockingly different than anything they had ever heard in an orchestral concert hall.

On the right days, new music has an amazing power…

The Fiery Furnace Premiere - Part 9 - Sunday


The Sunday performance was the best of all. The pacing got even better, the soloists further refined their parts, and everything had a great energy. The audience response was very strong (complete with whoops and hollers) and the whole concert was very satisfying.

The soloists and Maestro Ling were all very pleased and their feelings for the piece had strengthened further. It felt really great. Lots of work went into the piece and I felt like it had all been worth it. Certainly there are things I want to tweak and I will continue to think through issues of pacing, but the piece really came together and made a big impact. I think I am hooked enough on dramatic vocal works that I definitely should go ahead with plans to write a chamber opera.

It was a bit sad to leave town. In the end, I had made 4 trips to San Diego for a total of 9 rehearsals (including voice only rehearsals), 3 concerts, 6 events of talking about the piece to different groups of people, and 5 solid sightseeing outings. It was a great experience that is quite removed from the daily slog of writing in my basement studio, or weekly teaching. Hearing one’s music come to life is possibly the best part of composition. All the work pays off and hopefully a deeply satisfying performance is the result. This “high” should carry me through the next several months worth of writer’s block, and days I wish I was doing anything but writing.

I have plans to arrange a two piano version of the score so that smaller choirs can present the piece in chamber settings. This will probably happen over the next year and will first be performed at the University of Colorado where I teach. I am hopeful I can interest a few orchestras to take up the piece as well. Certainly an excellent choir is needed as well as an interest in the “new”.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Fiery Furnace Premiere - Part 8 - Saturday night

Saturday night…

By Saturday morning I had come to believe that Friday night had gone really, really well. After the concert there was a champagne toast in Maestro Ling’s dressing room. I talked to a number of audience members who offered great responses to the oratorio. The drama of the story had come across and the totality of the piece had made a strong impression.

Later on I had a drink with the soloists and a few others from the orchestra. We did some recapping of the performance and noticed how the drama of the story had really come forward since the early rehearsals. Performers often say they never really understand a piece until they perform it to an audience, and my soloists felt even better about the piece after this first performance.

So, I woke up Saturday feeling that months and months of writing this oratorio had paid off. This was great because now I could really enjoy the Saturday and Sunday performances. I didn’t have to torture myself with rethinking each section. I could just listen and enjoy the music making.

After my on stage comments (much more confident this time), I decided to listen from the balcony. A run around the stage and up some stairs and I could sit by myself in a part of the concert hall that had a great balance. The Saturday performance was stronger from everyone and it was an absolute pleasure to hear so many musicians bring this piece to life.

The Fiery Furnace Premiere - Part 7 - Friday Night

The Friday night concert was great…

At least that’s how I think it went and at least what people told me. The premiere of The Fiery Furnace was truly nerve wracking. It wasn’t that I did not have total confidence in the performers, but rather I just didn’t know how the audience would enjoy the piece. I thought the piece worked, but would anyone else? Was the pacing right? Would the balances work with a room full of people? Did the libretto communicate the drama of the story?

I was nervous for the pre-concert talk and even more nervous for the 2 minute comment I would make on stage just before the piece was played. Then I ran to get my seat on the ground floor aware of the hundreds of people covering the whole floor. For the first time I heard the piece without my nose in the score. I thought the players did wonderfully well, but I kept thinking about each decision I had made when writing the piece and whether they were good decisions. After 35 minutes, the piece came to an end and it turned out the response was great. By the time I made it on stage, most of the first floor was standing and I truly felt that the audience heard the story I wanted to tell.

The soloists, Nicholas Phan and Stephen Richardson, were very complimentary and were also very pleased that an actual world premiere had been successfully accomplished. This piece demanded a lot from them both and they came through with power and grace. Maestro Ling was equally pleased and complimentary. His pacing was the best yet.

In spite of the celebratory tone, I was in shell shock. It was just too much to process. At any rate, the piece had been born…

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Fiery Furnace Premiere - Part 6

The Friday night performance was wonderful. The performers did a beautiful job and the response was great. It looked like a very sizable standing ovation.

My head is still spinning. A premiere is so much to take in. Now that I have been through a performance once, I am really looking forward to tonight’s concert. I can finally relax and enjoy the piece.

I spent the day sailing with friends and now need a nap. More to come soon…

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Fiery Furnace Premiere - Part 5

Well, its finally come altogether. Tonight I heard the soloists, chorus, and orchestra all in the same room. They all sounded fantastic. I am absolutely pleased and really looking forward to the public unveiling tomorrow.

This morning was the first rehearsal with soloists and orchestra. The biggest challenge (and one of the biggest question marks) was the balance with soloists and orchestra. The first run revealed many difficult passages (and a few that worked beautifully). After rehearsal the soloists, Maestro Ling, the assistant conductor, and myself went to Maestro Ling’s dressing room and dug into the details of the piece. During the rehearsal I put post-its at the top of a page where there is something that needs to be addressed. After rehearsal I must have had 35 post-its sticking up from my score. So we went through each post-it and figured out what changes would improve those spots. Many times we simply needed to reduce the strings to one player on a part. Other spots we took out a few instruments. After our 45 minute rehearsal the orchestra librarians left with 3 pages of notes. Later in the afternoon they penciled in the changes to the parts.

By the evening rehearsal, many of the problem spots were fixed and the balance was great. After one run through there were a few more spots to tweak. I also took out one measure (removing only one measure isn’t bad for a 750 measure piece), made some transition spots louder, and tweaked a few tempos. We ratcheted up the final tempo and now the ending really cooks. By the end of my portion of the rehearsal, the piece was in great shape.

I am really excited about the premiere. Many thanks to the orchestra, administration, chorus, soloists, Gary McKercher (director of the chorus), and Maestro Ling. A special thanks to Philip Mann (assistant conductor) who provided a second set of super expert ears. He had his own running list of post-its and was invaluable during each rehearsal. If his conducting is as good as his insight into the finer workings of orchestral sound, he has a bright future.

Much of tomorrow is a down day (until the premiere). I am looking forward to eating lunch at the hotel filmed in Some Like it Hot. The afternoon will include a backstage tour of the train museum in Balboa Park. My dad (my folks came to San Diego for the premiere) is a train nut and has planned this trip since he first heard my piece would be premiered in San Diego.

The Fiery Furnace Premiere - Part 4

I’m back in San Diego. Yesterday was a long day with teaching in Boulder AM, flight to CA, tempo rehearsal, and evening party to celebrate the premiere of The Fiery Furnace.

The good news is that I’ve finally met the soloists and they sound fantastic. They know the piece very well and have a very good understanding of the phrasing and drama of the piece. I got to hear them in what is called a tempo rehearsal. It involves the soloists, the conductor, and a rehearsal pianist. It helps establish tempos that everyone is comfortable with and gives a chance to run through tricky transitions. By the time the soloists stand in front of the orchestra, these things should be comfortably worked out.

In a moment I am off to the first rehearsal with the soloists and orchestra...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Fiery Furnace - the libretto

When Soli Deo Gloria approached me to write an oratorio, the burden of text and librettist were left up to me. They wanted to make sure I worked with someone I was comfortable with and the end results enabled me to write the best music I could. After much deliberation, I decided that person was me.

Early in the process I decided to write the libretto. A distant voice of wisdom told me this was a mistake and would yield in second rate results. However, the story is told quite clearly in the Bible and much of the text is already complete. I took much of the text directly from passages of Daniel and used the English Standard Version translation. This translation is thought to improve upon errors in the RSV translation while continuing to strive towards a poetic presentation. I have loved this translation since it was published just a few years ago.

Beyond Daniel, I used many snippets from the psalms to fill in several prayers that serve as arias in between the action. In the end, it was wonderful to write my own libretto. I began with sketches that outlined the story. As I wrote the piece, it was very easy to interject an extra line or word when needed. The length of the text was easily adjusted to fit the drama of the music. I also felt at ease to keep the text very simple and direct. In the end I think the libretto became just what I needed for this piece. Rather than “writing” the libretto, I “assembled” the libretto. I don’t know that I’ll ever do it again, but it worked this time.

The Fiery Furnace - the background

The Fiery Furnace was commissioned by Soli Deo Gloria, Inc. This organization seeks to continue the tradition of large scale sacred works written for the concert hall. A few years ago, their artistic director John Nelson asked if I would consider an oratorio on a subject from the Old Testament Book of Daniel. He was inviting me to come up with an idea which absolutely would be the largest thing I had ever written (in length and performing forces). After some thought, I proposed the story of the burning fiery furnace. This story had been tackled in a short opera by Benjamin Britten, but I was unaware of an oratorio based on the story. It had all the dramatic elements I wanted for a long piece and yet it seemed quite manageable. After all, the story takes up a page and a half in the Bible.

Soli Deo Gloria liked the idea and we were off and running. They are a sponsoring organization and do not actually premiere most of the works they commission. Instead, they offer the pieces to established orchestras to premiere. It’s a good deal for the orchestra because they get the prestige of the premiere without having to pay for a piece. A couple of years ago, Maestro Jahja Ling signed on to do the premiere with the San Diego Symphony and the San Diego Master Chorale. The performance got postponed once for programming issues and will receive its premiere this weekend (April 25, 26, 27, 2008).

The Fiery Furnace - the story

The Fiery Furnace is a story from the Old Testament book of Daniel. The book of Daniel takes place in Babylon where the Jewish people have been taken captive by the King Nebuchadnezzar. He puts the best and brightest of the Israelites to work in his court. He also makes regular demands that the Jewish people follow his customs and worship his gods. In this story, the king has a dream of building a great statue for his own glory (the image of gold). He builds the statue and declares that all the people in the lands must worship the statue when they hear the sound of music (how appropriate for an oratorio). The music sounds and three Jewish priests refuse to worship the statue. The king has declared that anyone refusing to worship the statue will be thrown into the burning fiery furnace. After talking with the three priests, he follows through and throws them into the statue. It is described that the fire is so hot that the guards who throw the priests into the furnace are burned to death. Yet, the three priests are preserved and are seen walking around inside the furnace. There is a fourth seen walking in the fire that is described as a son of the gods. Some say this is an angel. At any rate, King Nebuchadnezzar is a bit thwarted and calls the priests out of the fire. He is stunned that the God of the Jews has preserved their lives and commands all to worship this God.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Fiery Furnace Premiere - Part 3

I’m at the airport waiting to board a plane to Denver. There is a grandfather looking gentleman playing old American tunes on a harmonica. For the first 20 seconds it was charming. 10 minutes later it has become excruciating. Can’t a harmonica fall into the category of items way too dangerous to allow in carryon luggage? God help us if he is on the plane.

I am really enjoying the free wireless that some airports are now offering. A 30 second add and you can surf the web for free. Maybe someday the bigger hotels in major cities will think free wireless is a good idea. Taking my laptop down to the lobby to check email is almost as bad as listening to this harmonica player.

We had another great rehearsal today. Maestro Ling worked the hard bits for the orchestra and things are sounding really good. They also had risers for the chorus today. That made a huge difference for their projection and balance. Sadly it has made real estate on stage even more precious. Everyone is crammed in. Good thing the piece doesn’t have the extra 8 Wagner tuba’s I was originally contemplating.

As I am heading out of town, things are in great shape for next week. I’ll be home in Colorado for a couple of days to catch up on teaching and see my family. Wednesday afternoon I’ll come back to San Diego for a tempo rehearsal with just the vocal soloists and Maestro Ling. Finally on Thursday every element will come together for the first time. I can’t wait.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Fiery Furnace Premiere - Part 2

Last night was the first rehearsal for The Fiery Furnace with the orchestra. It went really well. I was very nervous to hear the orchestral part for the first time. Principal concerns were balance between the orchestra and vocalists, how quickly could the orchestra pick up the difficult bits, and how would the pacing work. After a few comments on beat patterns for mixed meter passages, Maestro Ling took the chorus and orchestra through the piece. I was stunned that they read the 34 minute piece all the way through only stopping once. Wow!

The orchestra sounded great. Hardly anything tripped them up and no one got lost (there are lots of quiet passages for the soloists when many instrumentalists don’t play). I was very pleased with almost all of my orchestrational decisions. The balance with the chorus worked very well (only a couple of spots to tweak the orchestral part). Although the vocal soloists were not at the rehearsal, it seemed like the balance for their passages will come together very easily. The chorus also sounded great. The a cappella prayer early in the piece keeps getting better. It’s a very powerful moment. It was also great that the chorus seemed to have no problems getting their pitches from the orchestra.

I am absolutely delighted. Months of work and it is all coming together. The chorus continues to love the piece and I am getting great comments from them.

Random notes from the rehearsal…

The brake drum was definitely too high pitched and when played loud and exposed it sounded like a loud cowbell. I chatted with the percussionists after rehearsal and they are going to see what big bits of metal they can scrounge that will give a deeper more violent sound.

A few mistakes in the parts surfaced after the first read through. I hate mistakes in the parts. I always work very hard at editing the parts so we won’t lose a minute here or there answering a question that I should have clarified in the notation. Oh well… No matter how hard I try, there are always a couple of mistakes.

I had a hard time deciding where I wanted to be during rehearsal. Everyone says the best sound is in the balcony, but I can’t be there during rehearsal. I tried to sit half way back but then it was impossible to hear any discussion on stage. I ended up sitting in the second row and found I could hear things fairly clearly and could be in on any conversation that took place.

Maestro Ling generously gave my piece the entire rehearsal. The San Diego Symphony has done a wonderful job about allowing enough time to prepare the piece.

Maestro Ling wants to take one of the fast sections at a blistering pace. It sounds great and has terrific energy. Its nice that he wants it to go faster. Usually I am the one asking for players to blister their fingers for a faster tempo.

Outed at the Zoo

I spent 5 hours at the San Diego Zoo today. The zoo is perhaps the most famous San Diego attraction and my whole life I had heard how great it is. It was a beautiful day and I managed to pretty much see everything.
At one point I was walking through “Cat Canyon” listening on my mp3 player to a disc by local composer Joseph Waters. I suddenly thought I heard someone shout my name. It was sort of like being in a dream and being vaguely aware that my mother is calling me. This happened several times and I kept ignoring it as I was visiting the park alone in a state where I hardly know anyone. It turned out that the tour guide on the passing bus was calling me over her speaker system. When I finally turned around, removed my headphones, and looked, she was telling everyone in the vicinity about how great my oratorio is and how they all must attend a performance. Her name is Ellen and she sings in the San Diego Master Chorale. It was a bit of a surreal moment. Suddenly I was no longer an anonymous zoo patron, but a famous composer.

Random zoo thoughts…
My favorite animals were the flamingos, the gorillas, and the zebra that was prominently displaying his malehood (while being photographed by many onlookers).
The koalas were so stagnant that they could have been stuffed animals instead of live animals. Come to think of it, many animals were equally stagnant.
Zoo humor… Why do flamingos stand on one leg? Because if they tried to lift up that leg, they would fall over.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

the In-N-Out experience

Yesterday I got to dine at the famous In-N-Out Burger. I first learned of what many argue is the finest fast food burger by watching The Big Lebowski (warning - link contains strong language). There is great scene where the decision to drive across town is clinched by the ability to get a burger afterwards.

As this is one of my favorite movies, I have wanted to eat this famous burger for many years. In-N-Out Burgers exist almost exclusively in California and even then they are not on every corner. So, finally on this, my 5th ever trip to California, I made the journey and tasted a burger.

Tommy, from the orchestra, was giving me a lift back to the hotel following a visit to San Diego State University. I casually asked if there was an In and Out Burger near the hotel. He informed me we were about to pass one and we could stop. He then schooled me on the whole ordering experience and offered a little history about the establishment. In his opinion, it is the best fast food burger. There was quite a line and the place was hopping. He said there is always a line. I ordered a double burger “animal style” and got the famous fries as well. It indeed was delicious and I can not name a fast food burger that tasted more like a real burger.

Too bad there are no In-N-Out Burgers in Colorado

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Fiery Furnace Premere - part 1

I am in San Diego in preparation for the premiere of The Fiery Furnace with Maestro Jahja Ling, the San Diego Symphony, and the San Diego Master Chorale. In a future post I’ll give the details of the piece. For the moment, I’ll tell you it is 34 minutes in length and is absolutely the biggest piece I have ever written. It is also my first attempt at true dramatic music. This project has been 4 years in the making and has taken me roughly 9 months to write.

Last night I attended a rehearsal where Maestro Jahja Ling worked with the chorale for the first time on this music. It was a wonderful rehearsal. He devoted all three hours to my piece and took so much care with each moment that he didn’t have time for the last 5 minutes of the piece. He had a great rapport with the choir who clearly loves singing for him. Perhaps the most meaningful part of the rehearsal was how much attention he gave to text expression. He had a clear idea of how each musical phrase should communicate the text. It was truly wonderful to have the conductor so in tune with my intentions.

I have been quite nervous about this piece since early January. It has taken months and months to create and I have never done anything remotely similar before. I’ve done everything I know to make it a great piece, yet I have no past experience to know if this piece will ultimately work. Last night was such a relief because I am starting to get a glimpse of the whole piece and I am feeling very good about it. Although the vocal soloists won’t arrive till next week, the dramatic arch of the choral parts are working really well. The chorus sounds great and I now know that the maestro knows the piece and will do a marvelous job in preparing this performance.

The next big piece of the puzzle will come Wednesday night when the orchestra rehearses the piece for the first time.

Thoughts about San Diego

I have never before visited a city where the airport is in the middle of the city. The first time I flew in I felt like I could see in people’s living rooms as the plane dropped to the level of apartments. On the ground, it is wild to see planes flying so low. As I type, a plane flies by my hotel room every 10 minutes or so. Its sort of creepy.

The weather is really great. I took a long walk earlier through Balboa Park and there was just the right mix of warmth with an occasional cool breeze.

Green Bay Premiere part 3

One last post from the plane back to Colorado

The premiere performance of La Luz was absolutely wonderful. The dress rehearsal had been fantastic and the performance even better. Maestro Reischl had made the decision to perform the work twice. The whole second half was taken up with Beethoven’s 9th Symphony which left a rather light first half with just my work. Clocking in around 7 minutes, it is not a lengthy piece to perform twice. That is a first for me and something I wish happened more often. In between the two performances I offered a few comments about how the audience could listen a second time. Then they heard the music again.

Every comment I received was overwhelmingly positive both about the piece and the opportunity to hear it a second time. In each case they heard things they hadn’t the first time and walked away with a much richer experience of a new piece. Thank you to all the performers for such a beautiful job!!!

The rest of the evening was also wonderful. I had a great roast beef dinner before the concert. Then I ran off to partake of the pre-concert talk (Green Bay has one of the best attended pre-concert series I have ever experienced). I sat up close for the first half for an easy entrance to the stage and then moved up to my favorite balcony seats for the Beethoven. After the concert a large crowd headed over to Patrick’s on the Bay Restaurant for a great reception. I got to hang out with some of the players who assumed I was a brass player because I wasted no time in finding the food. I also continued to talk to many audience members who really enjoyed the concert. I capped off the evening by enjoying a local brew, Spotted Cow. It was a great evening and I wish all my orchestral premieres would go so well.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Green Bay Premiere Part 2

Tonight I heard my piece La Luz in rehearsal for the first time with both chorus and orchestra. In total, there were around 220 performers on stage which is by far the largest performance force ever to perform my music. It was an incredible experience to say the least. For the last few years I have grown to love writing for orchestra. There are infinite combinations of sounds and the range from intimate soft textures to powerful full orchestral passages is stunning. For many years I have loved writing for choruses. Chamber choruses have a beautiful sound, but large choruses bring new levels of warmth and strength. Writing for these combined forces has got to be one of the coolest composing assignments.

I already knew the orchestra was offering a beautiful rendition of my music from the last two evenings of rehearsal. Now I know that the chorus is also doing a wonderful job and the piece has come to life with a whole new dimension. Many thanks to Maestro Dudley Birder and the whole chorale.

The main issues we needed to deal with during rehearsal were integrating the chorus with the orchestra. It is easy for an orchestra of 70 players to dominate a chorus of 150. Heck, two loud trumpets could obliterate 150 singers. During the first run through, I placed my handy post-it notes in 8 spots where the orchestra was too loud. Then Maestro Reischl and I had a mini conference on stage before she communicated the nuances to the performers. For the most part, this involved changing things by shades of dynamics. The first run through was good but the second run through was great. Things were gelling very well.

At break I heard many comments from both the chorus and orchestra that the piece is really great now that it is all together. Up till this evening, each group had no idea what the other would sound like.

A really fun part of the rehearsal was a party thrown by the Green Bay Commissioning Club. We gathered early for dinner and drinks and I offered some comments about the music. Then they were invited to bring their drinks into the balcony and hear the rehearsal. From what I heard, they loved it. As special guests, they got to hear the rehearsal in a nearly empty hall and could even stand and move around if they wished. I have always loved hearing music at rehearsals because there is an intimacy that can be lost with a packed house. They also seemed to enjoy watching me confer with Maestro Reischl after the first run and then hear those changes come to life during the second run. This is going to be a great concert.


I didn’t get to post this last night and I have just come from the afternoon dress rehearsal. Things are getting even better. Maestro Reischl’s tempos and phrasing really came to life today. The piece has a great flow and I love all she is offering. All of the performers have stepped things up a notch. I can’t wait till tonight…

A note about the weather…

I thought the last few days have had awful weather with cold temperatures, gusty winds, and near constant rain. Well, it got worse today with colder temperatures, gustier winds, and snow. For my entire 5 day trip, the sun will not be seen. Sort of ironic as my piece is a meditation on light and its warmth. Tomorrow its back to sunny Colorado, and off to sunnier California the next day. Smile!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Premiere in Green Bay part I

It is Wednesday night, 9:15PM, and I have just returned to the James St. Inn after hearing the first half of the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra rehearsal for this Saturday’s concert. In fact I have just returned from hearing my new piece, La Luz, for the first time. It is an interesting truth for the concert music composer that our music is all theoretical until it is played live for the first time. I worked on this piece over a period of months and spent many hours contemplating every detail of color and dynamic. Yet, my imagination is not equal to the real experience of hearing 80 musicians play my piece.

The experience of a “first hearing” can often be terrifying. Many orchestration choices might fail, or passages that I originally thought quite playable might prove near impossible. There is even the fear that the conductor does not know the piece as well as needed to pull it all together in the precious rehearsal time. Some of my first writings for orchestra encountered these problems during a first rehearsal and the immediate reaction is one of horror. The creative artist (not the most emotionally stable creature) may leave a first rehearsal and see their labored creation teetering on edge of the abyss of failure.

But not tonight….

I was absolutely delighted with the rehearsal tonight and am even a bit pleased with my own music (false modesty here). It was a total pleasure or a near drug induced high to hear this music come to life so effortlessly in the hands of Maestro Reischl and the GBSO. It really worked from the first note to the last and there were many moments that gave me shivers. The colors blended beautifully and the breadth of the piece is just what I wanted. I am not sure that I have ever felt quite so positively after a first rehearsal. So many thanks to the musicians who did a great job. Special thanks to Maestro Reischl for really knowing the piece and having very sensitive ideas so early in the process.

Before I congratulate everyone too much, I should mention that the rehearsal tonight was without the choir. They join the ensemble Friday night. So, as pleased as I am, there is still the question of how well did I write the choral part and how will it blend with the orchestra. We shall see…

Random Thoughts About My Trips to Green Bay

-My last visit was filled with snow (on the ground and in the air) and average temperatures around 8F. I believe that the sky was also consistently grey. I arrived last night around 8PM and drove up from Milwaukee in an ongoing downpour and gusty winds. It was a tense and long drive. Edgy from the trip, I was up late and saw it snow around 1AM. Had I not visited in August where it didn’t snow during my 48 hour trip, I might believe it snows all year in Green Bay. When I am back home in Colorado and people ask me what I like about WI, I do not talk about the weather.

-At home in Colorado we do not have cable TV. It is sort of a self preservation decision so my family and I won’t get sucked into the numbing vortex of so much of the fine programming. That said, I love watching TV. In particular I love the Food Network and HGTV. So, coming to Green Bay (among other work related trips) affords me the opportunity to watch these 2 channels at the hotel. I often get a little excited and flip back and forth between the channels at a manic rate in order to keep up with the programs on both channels at the same time. I watched for a couple of hours last night following my rainy drive and by the time I turned off the TV, I had seen around 6 families buy homes, 6 families sell homes, and picked up a couple of dozen new recipes.