2010 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute Blog: Day 3

Harp Workshop

As anticipated, today was much busier than yesterday. Starting again at 9:00 a.m., we met in Orchestra hall for a quick breakfast before the first meeting of the day.

In our first meeting, we were introduced to Aaron Kernis’s music. He played his orchestral piece Color Wheel, one I had never heard before. I was extremely impressed by the piece and score, and by the recording as well. A very broad and textural score filled with beautiful precision and artistry. At this point, I do not think I can put into words how excited I am to hear my own music played by the orchestra on Friday.

I think we all became even more excited when we got to listen to the orchestra play a live children’s concert with Associate Conductor Courtney Lewis. Having not been to a children’s concert since I was a kid, I saw it in a completely different light. It was awesome—the literal meaning, not the overused hyperbolic statement. I was so happy to see so many young children enjoying a classical music concert. Hopefully their generation will continue to enjoy it all their lives.

After the concert, we all moved on to the rehearsal room where we met with Principal Harpist Kathy Kienzle and percussionists Brian Mount and Kevin Watkins. I can’t remember who said this today, so I’m sorry if it was you, but “It is always humbling to hear a musician play your music, and realize that they have been practicing it for months.” Words I could not agree with more. It was wonderful to hear Kathy play the harp solos from my piece, and even more wonderful that she let me change something in the part at the last minute. I’m sure everyone else felt the same way. I didn’t write any melodic percussion—with the exception of piano—in my piece, so I didn’t get to hear a realization of it by the Brian or Kevin, but it was great to hear them talk about how difficult or nearly impossible certain passages were in David Weaver, Ben Phelps, and Clint Needham’s pieces. Especially when they nailed them perfectly right afterwards.

Later in the evening, after we all returned from dinner at Hell’s Kitchen, we again joined Aaron in the Green Room to share more of our music with each other. To me, it’s always a treat to hear music I’ve never heard before, and today was absolutely no exception.

On another note, I decided to take a midnight stroll around downtown tonight. I was very surprised by the city. I saw a rabbit running down the street, but not a single person. Granted, it’s about 30 degrees outside with the windchill from the 50 mph winds… but in cities like New York and Los Angeles, you really can’t go outside without seeing at least someone.

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