Where Is Do?

Walking Woman In Center Of Spiral Stairs

When presented with new music, there is a question my voice students ask in quiet panic: “Where is do?” According to the established choral curriculum, we just cannot agree.

Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head

A red umbrella in heavy rain

I have finished the first “student composition” of my life. Now the nine-minute piece goes to the musicians who will be playing it who range from freshman to graduate level and two are sort of on loan from the jazz department. At every lesson I worried aloud about the difficulty of some of the ensemble playing; I didn’t want to be setting anyone up for a terrible experience, myself included.

Con vibrato ma non troppo: Rethinking Sopranos

boys chorus

Why as professionals do we perpetuate, and why as composers do we imitate, the sound of a soprano section comprised of pre-pubescent boys? Why insist on the misunderstanding that adult female sopranos are able to or should sing strictly senza vibrato in the way children do?

The Long and Winding Road

A country road that twists and turns

I am expected to bring fresh music in every week. I have spent more than twenty years writing to deadlines and I am proud to say I’ve never missed one, but this feels different. I don’t know why. For each lesson, I bring in music.

Still B.A. After All These Years

A large clock displaying the time 5:32 in front of a building.

I’m staggering, this late December, to the end of my first semester in graduate school, pursuing a master’s degree in composition, but I am thrilled to report that my comrades in the department are just as worn out as I am. This counts as a win because I am 58, and they are younger than my own children.

Get Vulnerable

Matt Marks, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Lainie Fefferman, and David Smooke standing outside Peabody.

I’m hoping that the 2016 New Music Gathering can be a space where we can all shed the need to project individual strength and can take the time out of our shells to ask the questions and voice the concerns we might usually refrain from sharing.

Good Old-Fashioned Human-to-Human Connection on a Very Honest Level

People sitting across from each other in pairs in a room. In front a woman listening to music with an earbud that is emanating from a man's laptop.

When I heard that Daniel Felsenfeld, Lainie Fefferman, and Matt Marks were creating this conference, I wanted in even though I didn’t really like conferences–they make me think of barriers and give me the heebie jeebies. But take self-aggrandizement and/or alienation away, and you’re left with conversations and ideas being exchanged between people who simply want to create art and people who want to facilitate the making of that art.

Tempering My Friends Anxiety and Doubt

Lainie Fefferman, Matt Marks, Mary Kouyoumdjian, and Daniel Felsenfeld sitting together at a round table.

My first reaction was: “Yes! Hell yes! Let’s do it and let’s kick ass at it!” My second reaction was: “Matt, there is no goddamned way on Earth you could do something as complicated and high-stakes as starting a brand new music conference.” Enter my good friends Anxiety and Doubt. They set up shop and didn’t leave until after this whole thing was finished.

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