[Ed Note: This year the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute is taking place in January. Six intrepid composers from around the country have arrived in wintry Minneapolis for an intense week of artistic discovery and bonding. We've asked one of the six, Hannah Lash,to provide us with a daily account of their activities.—FJO]
Six of us arrived in Minneapolis yesterday for the Minnesota Orchestra Composers Institute. We all met at 5:00 p.m., scurrying as quickly as we could across the block of chilling Minnesota winter from the hotel to Orchestra Hall, where Institute director Aaron Jay Kernis awaited us along with coordinators Lilly Schwartz and Rick Hanson in the Green Room.
After a quick orientation and very welcome dinner of Indian food, Aaron and the six of us participants sat down to listen to each other’s music. Most of us had not been acquainted with one another prior to this evening. I must say that the experience of critiquing and receiving criticism for something so intimate as a creative act is probably one of the most intense and speedy ways to get to know others.
I felt the group begin to bond over this listening session. I’m sure this is mainly a reflection of Aaron’s warmth and generosity towards us, which sets the tone of mutual support: all of us working together but separately to clarify and hone our own music.
I sensed this care from Aaron when he called to talk about my score and parts a few months prior to the Institute. I was so impressed by his exhaustive perusal of my music and his meticulous and thoughtful comments and suggestions for notational clarification for anything from the layout of parts to a better way to beam a complex rhythm.
This generosity, thoroughness, and support seem to be the guiding principles of the entire institute. As I look over the week’s schedule that has been printed for me, I am impressed and even a little overwhelmed anticipating such a huge volume of seminars, feedback sessions, and rehearsals. This, I can tell, is going to be a truly unforgettable week: one of the most intense learning sessions one could hope for.