BrightMusic Finale 2011 and "Overture" Premiere

May 2011

The premiere of my Overture to the American Songbook.  Something closer to an arrangement than a composition in the truest sense, the piece was commissioned from me last year to close “Americana,” the finale concert of this season for BrightMusic.  BrightMusic is the best chamber music organization going on in this part of the country, and it was a joy to work with them again.

Unfortunately, the only picture from this event is this one of me with my good friend and uber-clarinetist Chad Burrow apparently trying to conduct each other, or otherwise engage in some kind of effeminate dance.  So, event success, picture fail.

chad & me 1

University of Central Missouri New Music Festival 2011

April 2011

April brought another fun trip—the University of Central Missouri New Music Festival.  Last year, their jazz ensemble played my jazz orchestra piece White Heat.  This year, I had two pieces performed—Uwohali, my solo piano piece, and Song of the Moon, my a capella choral work.  My good friend Stacey Barelos was an ace as always at the piano, but the lovely surprise was the University Chamber Choir and their excellent young conductor Alan Zabriskie, who did a beautiful job with Song of the Moon

me & stacey

 And then we and  Stacey and her family at another joyous surprise of Warrensburg, MO:  Monetti’s—possibly the best Italian food I’ve ever had.  (The date stamp reveals the “Eternal New Year’s of 2003,” the perpetual date stamp on my mom’s camera….)

me & stacey 2

OK Mozart

In another chapter of the eventful summer, the Enhake Quartet also performed my Quartet in Four Actions at OK Mozart.  OK Mozart is a summer music festival which brings in some of the finest symphonic and chamber musicians from New York and around the world to Bartlesville, OK for 2 weeks.  I remember going there and hearing Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, Anne Akiko-Meyers, Emmanuel Ax, and many other great artists play there when I was growing up, and the thought that my own work was played there was very cool.  Another great performance by Enahke. 


MSSU Residency

February 2011

 My old friend—and tremendous new-music pianist—Stacey Barelos has come to my neck of the woods as the new piano professor at Missouri Southern State University, and MSSU graciously invited me to do a short residency to coincide with her first faculty recital there.  She played my piano solo Uwohali to close the first half of the recital before releasing the Kraken on some forearm-banging Cowell in the second half. 

The next day featured a talk that I gave about texture and modality in Uwohali that was attended by about 40 of Stacey’s students and faculty colleagues.  It was great to meet some of her fellow professors and her students, who were very curious and enthusiastic about the piece and had lots of good comments and questions for me.  Great trip.  No pictures.

San Diego and the O.C.

In another serendipitous occurrence of the summer, I had been looking for an opportunity to go visit my little brother Blake, who was in the interim summer of his 2 years as a grad student at UC-San Diego.  I was hoping to figure out a way to make a trip, when I found out that my a capella choral piece Song of the Moon won the Meistersingers Prize! The honor of winning was great (not to mention that it came with a none-too-small monetary award—also great) but the Meistersingers are based in southern California, and were going to premiere my work at two concerts in Orange County. Perfect excuse to go hang out with the Blaker, and take him, a former chorister no less!, to the concerts with me.

The luxuriant houses along the Oceanside highway


The first concert in Orange County


with Brian Dehn, the conductor of the Meistersingers, and a fellow composer who also had a piece on this concert—they did such a great job


with Brian and Blake at the reception dinner




The Mission Basilica at San Juan Capistrano


Performance at the Mission Basilica (with their $25 million gold altarpiece from Italy in the background—did I mention there is a fair amount of money in the O.C.?)


The Mission after the performance


Balboa Park


Coronado Island


La Jolla Shores and a farewell to CA—what a great trip


UCROSS Trip (with Texas Detour)

As another part of my super-busy May (I was home for about 4 days of it), I had the opportunity to go to the UCROSS Arts Colony in Wyoming.  UCROSS is one of the very good artist colonies in the U.S.  It makes Oklahoma look like a bustling urban hub.  This was my first time at a creative artists’ retreat (as opposed to an all-musicians one) and I met two painters, a photographer, a filmmaker, a choreographer, and two writers.  Beautiful scenery and lots of good and interesting folks. 

My UCROSS neighbor—photographer, and generally fun person Vicky.


My cabin


The pretty-in-the-day and creepy-at-night long driveway to the main house


Endless daisy fields 

I had received a commission from Cooper High School in Abilene, one of the many incredible high school music programs in Texas, to write a wind ensemble piece as a memorial for the director’s mother, their family and mine having had a long association.  It was a challenge to write such a weighty piece and, needless to say, the pressure to write something the director likes was certainly extra-large in this case!  But he loved it, the audience seemed to love it, and I’ve rarely heard a group of high school musicians play with such maturity and skill.  As it turned out, I had to make the trip from UCROSS to Abilene and back in a very tought 3-day stretch of travel, but so glad I could go.  Our old friend Amanda, and her mom Yvonne who was our English teacher, came for the concert.  (Unfortunately, photos of the actual performance didn’t turn out but these from the reception afterward turned out well.)

abilene 2

abilene 1

Back at UCROSS:  Hoe-down night at the bar in Buffalo, WY




New York and St. Louis

Sometimes it takes hard work and perseverance to make good things happen, and sometimes they just fall into your lap.  The Enhake Quartet based in Florida is a wonderful group of young musicians I’ve been working with over the past couple of years.  We were awarded an Encore! Grant from the American Composers Forum that allowed them to play my Quartet in Four Actions all over the country in the past year.  They told me in March that there was a possibility they might have the opportunity to play my piece at an all-contemporary American concert at Carnegie Hall in May, and asked if I could be there if they did.  After considering this for about 4 milliseconds, I said yes.  As it turned out, the performance was on a Monday between the 2 performances of Visions & Fantasies, the ocarina concerto that the St. Louis School of Music had commissioned from me, which were to take place on a Sunday afternoon and then the next Saturday evening.  So Jolie Beth and I went to St. Louis, flew to NYC, heard Enhake play beautifully at Carnegie Hall, hung out in New York for 5 days, and went back to St. Louis for the other premiere performance (it’s funny how many “premiere” performances there can be in the concert-hall music world!).  Unbelievable trip—

 (Here’s the video of one movement of the concerto):


 At the first reception following the first performance of Visions & Fantasies in St. Louis


With friend, colleague, and patron Dennis Yeh, who commissioned the concerto from me 

2 dennis 

From NYC:  Eating the infamous Largest Sandwich Known to Man at the Carnegie Deli (well, about ½ of it anyway—it was 2 meals for me and JB combined, which translates in physics terms to “4 man*meals” worth of food).


Dark picture, but they don’t allow flash in Weill Recital Hall, the venue in Carnegie Hall where the concert was.  Chandelier, gold-embossed décor, curved ivory walls—it’s like stepping into 1780 Vienna, not to mention how it sounds.


Outside of Carnegie Hall


Me on the program


With Libby Larsen, one of the very important living American composers, who had a world premiere on this concert, and turned out to be a very, very nice lady.  She said “YOUR piece is WONDERFUL!”  She is now my favorite living American composer. IMG_4618

With Won Kim, clarinetist of Enhake, who delivered an amazing performance of my quartet at the biggest venue in American music, and then practically collapsed in a heap of exhaustion!

me & won

With JB at the rooftop café of the American History Museum


from our harbor tour


from the top of 30 Rock toward Central Park


amazing view of Central Park and midtown from the plane as we left to return to St. LouisIMG_4760