This weekend I’ll be traveling to California to attend the last bit of the Festival of New American Music (FeNAM) at Sacramento State University. An ensemble by the name of Citywater will be performing three of my compositions on the festival’s final concert, and I’m really looking forward to meeting the group and being part of the shenanigans!
The amusing part of all this, because we have not met in person, is that it feels like going on a blind date—you’re not completely sure what you might be getting into, but you hope that the conversation (and rehearsals) will flow smoothly, that you’ll have things in common, that you decided to wear the right outfit, etc. It’s one thing when an ensemble you’ve never met orders some scores online—there is a sort of connection automatically formed from communications around that—but when you find out they want to actually work with you, things become a little more weighty. This might be getting serious! There are many uncertainties, but so far I know that these musicians are talented, super excited about playing new music, generous, and witty (I have laughed out loud at many of the emails we’ve been passing around). And happily, I do not sense that “air of desperation” (you know what I’m talking about, the “Even though I don’t really know you, I’ve already called my mother to tell her all about you” jumping of the gun) that can raise a red flag on a first time get-together.
The nature of long distance musical relationships is also not unlike their romantic counterparts—time spent together is fleeting and intense, there is less of a shared daily routine, and extra effort is required to maintain communication during time apart. While I am extremely glad to be part of the growing new music community right here in the Baltimore/Washington metropolitan area, the reality is that the vast majority of my gigs happen in other places, many of which are pretty far away. I have come to consider regions such as the West Coast, parts of Europe, and New York City as good homes for the music—locations where it can flourish. It’s definitely more complicated than having a musical life primarily in one’s own backyard, but as long as that backyard is a good fit as a place to create the work, it can provide a solid platform on which to maintain a network of relationships spread far and wide.
Composers, do you find that your performances happen more often where you live, or in other locations? Home games, or away games?