I had an opportunity to hear/watch some live and choreographed performances including Messiaen’s powerful Quartet for the End of Time in October (a piece which I greatly admire but have never heard live before), Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet (with some of the most beautiful and memorable melodies ever written) in December, and my favorite work of the 20th century, Stravinsky’s masterpiece, the Rite of Spring. The Messiaen was every bit as visceral and striking as I had imagined it would be. Though not originally intended to be choreographed, it fit well with the atmosphere in the performance space at the Columbus Museum of Art. The Tchaikovsky and the Stravinsky were some of the finest playing I’ve heard by the Columbus Symphony. While I’ve heard both pieces live before, I had not seen either choreographed before this. It was great to experience them in their intended medium. It really makes me want to experiment more with interdisciplinary arts as a composer and performer!
In February, OSU hosted the 2013 National Conference of the Society of Composers, Inc. Tom Wells and I worked very hard to put together this massive event (12 concerts in 3 ½ days) and we were really pleased with the outstanding performances and the high quality compositions submitted. I had such a wonderful time meeting so many composers and performers and making new friends. The conference’s keynote speaker was composer, Joshua Fineberg, who teaches composition and theory at Boston University. One of the most memorable performances of the conference was his work Veils for piano performed by pianist, Fali Pavri who teaches piano at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. This compelling work was nothing less than stunning. Fali, whose musical sensitivity is staggering, absolutely brought the music of Fineberg to life. Fali’s performance of Chopin’s Sonata in Bb Minor during a guest recital the day after the conference literally brought me to tears.
During the same conference I had the opportunity to perform several great pieces. One of my particular favorites was Harmonic Fields by Liviu Marinescu. The instrumentation is flute, Bb clarinet, soprano saxophone, and piano, and I was fortunate to collaborate with some of the best musicians I know (Erin Helgeson Torres, flute; Justin Johnston, clarinet; Jiung Yoon, piano; and Nick Enz, conductor). The piece is really incredible and emotionally engaging as it explores the sonic possibilities of these instruments. Liviu mentioned that it was the best performance of the work he had ever heard. Dr. Marinescu currently teaches composition and theory at California State University Northridge. Here’s the live recording from his website: www.csun.edu/~liviu7/hfields/harmonicfields-4players.mp3.
Let me know what incredible music you’ve heard recently. Anything I should be listening to?