The 2009 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute Blog: A Top Notch Hotel But There’s No Time to Relax

Ed Note: This is the third installment of Spencer Topel’s 2009 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute Blog. To read his previous installments, click here and click here.

(1:37am) The frenetic pace of this program is dawning on me, considering our call time is 8:00am tomorrow and it is now nearly 2:00am. Everything today was top notch: the hotel, the staff, the food, and the people. New to this year, is the music-friendly Ivy Hotel. A really great just shy of five-star hotel.(Jazz at Lincoln Center stayed for free earlier this year!) The Minnesota Orchestra staff—Lilly Schwartz and Sarah Elhardt—are brilliant, because they made early connections with the folks at the hotel, and now they have a cozy and most enviable relationship with this awesome Starwood Hotels property. It could be the comfy beds and valet service, but I have to say that everyone invited to the program seems really pleasant.

Aaron Jay Kernis started the afternoon by providing motivations for why he is running perhaps the most important and generous program offered in America for composers writing music for orchestra. He explained his first encounter with an orchestra as a twenty-three year old composer featured on the Horizons Festival, run by the late composer Jacob Druckman. During these very public sessions with the New York Philharmonic, he was dropped into the proverbial musical sea. The intense feelings emerging out of this experience were in his words “completely overwhelming.” As his career expanded, the desire to supplement composer training with real-world training became a passion: hence the Minnesota Orchestra Composers Institute.

The later half of the evening followed with an interesting composers session, reviewing works by other composers in this year’s institute—Kathryn Salfelder, Roger Zare, Geoff Knorr, and myself. And Aaron shared with us his epic Color Wheel. The scope of this work and its mastery of orchestration are stunning.

Anyhow, I am off to bed for a few hours of sleep. More to come soon.

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