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.
Vincent Calianno has been awarded the 36th annual ASCAP Foundation Rudolf Nissim Prize for The Facts and Dreams of the World According to Michael Jackson, a 12-minute work for orchestra. Selected by a panel of conductors from among 170 entries, the Brooklyn-based Calianno will receive a prize of $5,000.
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.
While an extremely wide range of composers are writing operas in the United States today, many of these disparate operas share an important trait—a libretto written by someone who was born in Alberta, Canada: Royce Vavrek. The gregarious Vavrek at first seems like an unlikely candidate for the mysterious, and regretfully somewhat anonymous, profession of writing opera librettos, but he loves telling stories and collaboration.
When my mother was just a few years out of college, she took a position teaching music at East Stroudsburg High School in Pennsylvania. John Eaton, then 16 or so, was one of her first students. In spite of her own gifts, and a fine music education, nothing–absolutely nothing–prepared her for John Eaton!