2010 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute Blog: Day 4

2010 Minnesota Orchestra Composers
Pictured from left to right: Taylor Brizendine, Clint Needham, Osmo Vänskä, Ben Phelps, Wang Jie, David Weaver, Narong Prangcharoen, Polina Nazaykinskaya

Aside from not getting my 8:00 a.m. wake-up call and being ten minutes late for the first seminar, today was one of the best days I’ve had. It went so well that honestly, had I gotten up on time, I’m sure it would’ve been much different. I probably would’ve fallen into a ditch or something terrible, so many thanks to my hotel for not waking me up.

Today started with lectures with attorney James Kendrick on copyright laws, ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, publishing agreements, and other legal woes. As dry as that all sounds, I found it fascinating. Until today, I knew next to nothing about any of it, so it was very helpful info.

In addition to learning a ton from Mr. Kendrick, we all got the pleasure of listening to a panel of composers and people on the business end of music—including Steven Stucky and Minnesota Orchestra President and CEO Michael Henson. It was amazing to hear all their success stories and how they brought music to underprivileged communities.

After the seminars, we all had private meetings with Maestro Osmo Vänskä. I was incredibly nervous for my meeting, but was delighted to find that though he is intense, he is a very nice and sincere man who clearly wants to do right by my music. When I looked down at my score, I saw that he had marked with literally hundreds of conducting cues. It was clear at that moment that he knows my piece almost as well as I do. After that, I wasn’t nervous anymore and it was easy to talk to him about exactly what I want from the music.

Later in the evening we all went to dinner at the home of two Minnesota Orchestra patrons. We enjoyed a delicious catered dinner with at least 30 supporters and members of the orchestra and institute. We also got the opportunity to give short speeches about ourselves and our works. Frankly, I wasn’t looking forward to the reaction after I described my piece as “ugly” and “unpleasant,” but everyone seemed very receptive! Quite the surprise given that in the past I’ve met many a foofy, bourgeoisie “classical music lover” who would’ve retched at even the idea of something outside the norm. I really can’t wait to hear what the orchestra and audience think. Good thing I get to tomorrow morning.

Also, I would like to extend many thanks to Jan Conlin and Gene Goetz for opening their home to all of us, even though Jan wasn’t there. Also, to everyone in attendance for appreciating and supporting new music. It was a great evening.

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