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  • October 23, 2005

    Covet

    AEJ and I did some browsing at Twentieth yesterday. This is, without a doubt, the coolest furniture store ever. Unfortunately, this stuff ain’t cheap. Boy howdy, though, it’s amazing stuff.

    As much as I love my lounge chair, I found a new one to covet. It’s like the big, crazy, steroid-addicted cousin of my chair. Wow, wow, wow. Just bad ass and shiny. You have to see this huge thing in person to appreciate how hulking it is. Sadly, it’s $13,000, putting it far out of the world of finance where I reside.

    4 Comments

    October 22, 2005

    Can't Stop the Music

    No, this entry isn’t about that brilliant piece of film work starring Steve Guttenberg — the movie that may have officially killed disco. No, the title of this entry refers to the fact that the caffeine from Pillsbury chocolate chip cookies is combining with endless loops of my new piece in my head, preventing me from sleeping.

    It’s 2am now, and I finally acknowledged to myself as I tossed and turned in bed an hour ago that I wasn’t going to fall asleep anytime soon. So, I got up, and now I sit here at the computer, and the cat on my lap is thrilled that I’ve given him a lap to sleep on at this odd hour. I’m probably going to head back to bed in a minute, and I can only hope that the same four bars of the new piece don’t keep looping in my head. It starts to make me kind of crazy. It’s like that recent episode of Medium where Allison couldn’t get that song out of her head, and it was so loud she could barely hear what was happening around her. This is kind of like that, except in my case, fortunately, the looping music isn’t some awful Gloria Gaynor song. (At least I hope it’s not. Wouldn’t that be weird, and a little embarrassing, if the piece I was writing turned out to be a disco hit from the 70s?)

    This is usually a good sign. If a piece is going well enough to keep me up at night listening to it in my head, then the material probably works, at least to me. I have a good feeling about this piece — or maybe that’s just the lingering effect of having all of those delicious cookies before bed. Mmm… cookies…

    Yeah, it’s definitely time for bed. Once the web browsing leads you to a site like this one, it’s time to call it a night…

    1 Comment

    October 20, 2005

    Antsy.

    I’ve been spending most of the day for the past four days sitting in front of the computer, trying to write this piece for the SEC consortium. It’s hard. I listen to it over and over, trying to figure out if it’s completely wrong, or passable, or decent. I have no idea. It’s like when you say a word over and over again and it eventually doesn’t sound like a real word anymore.

    Some of the piece is fine, I think. It’s a little bit of a departure, as it doesn’t really have a “tune” for the first half of the piece. It just grinds and scrapes away with dynamic swells in and out. The thinking is that when we finally hear the tune, boy howdy, it’s a relief. Not like an “I was getting sick of all of that noise — finally there’s a tune” relief, but more of an, “Ooooooh! That’s where we’ve been leading this whole time!” That’s what’s tricky — trying to make that moment both surprising and inevitable. And once again, it leaves me questioning whether I have the chops to write this piece as well as I want to.

    The curious thing about the piece is that the first three minutes sound like something Newman would really like.

    All of this intense work has left be fried and feeling quite antsy. I have to step away for a bit and go, yes, outside. I’m getting a haircut, in preparation for my upcoming residencies at Ohio State and the University of Michigan. I’m leaving Sunday on the big trip. That should be a fun change of pace, although 10 days away from home is an awfully long time…

    2 Comments

    October 17, 2005

    Percussion Concerto

    I’ve been getting a few requests lately for recordings and scores of the Percussion Concerto, so I’ve gone ahead and just posted a few new things.

    First up is the recording of Damien Bassman’s performance of it in 2003 with the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphony. I wrote the concerto for Damien, and although he wasn’t able to give the premiere, once he did get hold of it, he tore it up, if you will. He played the piece again in 2004, then with the Binghamton Symphony in New York, under the baton of Jose-Luis Novo. Jose-Luis recently did the piece again, this time with the Tallahassee Symphony, with John Parks as soloist. I haven’t heard the recording of that performance yet, but I’m looking forward to it. I heard great things, even if the local Tallahassee critic hated it. (“Brash and empty.” Buddy, the last movement is called “Steady Rock.” It’s supposed to be orchestral rock music with the drummer front and center playing timpani instead of a trap set. Of course it’s brash and empty. It’s not like the concerto is subtitled “Yearning Poems of Pain and Despair.” It’s friggin’ Steady Rock. It’s fun and exciting and loud, and that’s all it was supposed to be. But I digress.)

    The concerto is several years old — written in 2000 on commission from the New York Youth Symphony — so it’s a bit different than what I might write now, but if you’re curious, check it out — especially if you’re a percussionist. In addition to posting Damien’s performance, I posted the solo part, so feel free to play along, even if it’s just air-drumming…

    2 Comments

    No more sets

    This is a pretty amazing problem to have: I’m out of Redline Tango sets. Before I left New York, I made 15 sets of parts, figuring that would be enough for, well, ever. It’s a rental item, so schools send back the parts after the performance, and I can reuse the materials. I figured there was no way more than 15 schools would have parts at the same time.

    I was wrong. I sent out my last set today. (Actually three sets went out today — CSU Stanislaus, where Stuart Sims is doing the piece three (!!) times this year; CSU Long Beach, which is just down the road from my new place in LA; and Youngstown State University in Ohio.)

    The real complaint here is that in NY, I had “access” to a free photocopy machine. (I’ll just leave it at that.) Here, though, I have to pay to make my own copies. Can you believe the hardship?

    In other news, I’m off to Columbus, Ohio — my original home town — next Sunday. The wind ensemble there is doing “Redline Tango” at a concert on October 25. Then, a few days later, I drive up to Ann Arbor for a performance at the University of Michigan — Ohio State’s biggest rival. Remind me not to wear any OSU memorabilia once I arrive at UMich, lest I get my ass kicked. I’m trying to decide if I’ll even mention the “other” performance at either school…

    1 Comment