Saturday, July 3, 2010

The last aria

At the end of our opera "The Autumn Orchard", Josefina is left alone with her newborn son. Miguel has died in prison and Josefina's life is bleak with poverty in the midst of a war torn country.

Here is a bit of raw poetry from her final aria (libretto by J Michael Martinez):

Oh Miguel,
Leaves fall to earth
where our lambs grazed
in our meadows.

And now the lambs
are sheared and slaughtered
wool bloody on dead leaves

Our sun turns
over reaped fields of wheat

Now the stalks
point to the moon
like dead fingers.

the water has dried
where we were once rivers
swelled by Spring rain

There is only this
whisper of the black night
folding light into black
arms, black words.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My opera, The Autumn Orchard, is coming along nicely. I have about 2/3 of it written in vocal score.

Yesterday, my librettist J Michael Martinez came over to review the 2nd section. After our meeting, I got him to sit for a brief interview about the opera.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

aria of despair

I recently mentioned that I am writing a chamber opera. It is titled "The Autumn Orchard" and will be 45-60 minutes for 5 voices and eventually scored for a chamber ensemble. For the moment, I am writing a vocal score for piano. CU Now, a new summer opera program at the University of Colorado, will workshop the piece in early August and offer 3 semi-staged performances on August 5,6,7 2010. The piece is inspired by the death of Spanish Civil War poet Miguel Hernandez.

I love the libretto I am working with and owe many thanks to the wonderful poet J Michael Martinez for his great work. Of course, the libretto is not entirely done, but I am thrilled with what I've got so far.

I'd like to start blogging little updates on the opera. It is certainly a strange and unusual thing to write an opera. So many details that must fit into the drama of a much larger arch.

This morning I am working on an aria of despair for Miguel. He is in prison and knows he is sick. It is quite likely he will die in prison as so many have. He has just received a letter from his wife Josefina where she tells him she is pregnant with their child. Now he faces the fact that he may not live to know his son and his wife will raise the child alone.

So far I like what I have written, but we'll see how the afternoon goes. Here is a bit of the text:
Autumn lives through Winter to Spring.
blossoms through death do blossom again.
Our child will be born in autumn orchards
among leaves dreaming of
Spring, dreams of Spring.
Josefina, with you my love, our love remains.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bill Bolcom in Boulder

Bill Bolcom and his wife Joan Morris just spent a couple of days in Boulder working with the CU Wind Symphony and talking with our students. It was an absolute delight to have them in town. Aside from hearing great performances of Bill’s music, there are two highlights which I will always remember…

1. Bill and Joan performed a few of their cabaret songs. For years I have heard about how wonderful they are as a duo. People rave about their concerts but I have never had the chance to attend a performance. During the Tuesday afternoon talk, they did just a few songs which were all fantastic. They were funny, marvelously inventive, touching, and performed with an inspiring amount of musicality. The first cycle was called “Minicabs” which is short for mini-cabaret-songs. I need to hunt down the score and buy a copy immediately.

2. Bill told a story about an afternoon where he and John Cage talked on the radio for 3 hours. Near the end of the time Bill started to talk about how he was at a bit of an aesthetic crisis with just too many options. John Cage told him he didn’t like arbitrary or external aesthetic divides but rather one should look within. It was a pivotal conversation for Bill and lead to the music that has defined his career.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Restarting the Blog

Its time to restart the blog. After a long hiatus, I do hope to get some regular posts going.

A lot has happened in the nearly two years since I last posted. I've had premieres with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Takacs Quartet with the University of Colorado Wind Ensemble, a chamber group at the Aspen Music Festival, the Borromeo String Quartet, and numerous choruses. I've been on leave this semester and have been to the McDowell Artist Colony and the UCross Foundation in Wyoming.

I'm currently working on a chamber opera based on the life of Miguel Hernandez as well as writing pieces for the Takacs Quartet, the Air Force Academy Band, and the Symphonic Band and combined choruses of Wheaton College.

I hope to cover many of these topics as I get this blog up and running again.

Above is a picture from the NSO Asian tour last June.