Staying busy! Thanks to Michael Matsuno for his recent, dynamite recording of AxBxC (2013) for solo flute and to Ariel Detwiler and Sam Crocker of Duo 231 for their equally dynamite recording of Eight Miniatures (2012). Michael and Duo 231 both asked for sets of short movements - miniatures - but the ensuing pieces nevertheless sound very different from each other. Written so close to each other, they were a great chance to see how far the same basic idea could be taken in different directions. And the recordings are, as I say, dynamite - check them out!
This past summer was occupied with a commission for wind band from Craig Fryer and the Millbrook High School Wind Band. The new piece, The Extinguished Lights, will be premiered in December.
Over on the Listen page, new audio is up, including the American Composers Orchestra's recording of Music from elsewhere: orchestra from the Underwood New Music Readings last April. The piece will also receive an encore performance in April 2014 at Indiana University.
Almost spring! Winter is definitely a little longer and a little colder in New York than Indiana, but it'll come eventually...
On the docket, I'm pleased to say that the recently-completed Music from elsewhere: orchestra has been accepted to the 22nd Underwood New Music Readings of the American Composers Orchestra. The readings (which are open to the public) will happen at the DiMenna Center in New York City on April 8-10.
Other recent goings-on include a performance of No Compulsions Now (in a tape-only version) at the Cal State Fullerton New Music Festival on March 2, and of The favorite food of fools (an excerpt from 2011's A Walmart Version of You), at Harvard University on March 2, as part of the Vox Novus 60x60 East Coast Mix.
Also keeping me busy is a new solo work for the fabulous new music flutist Michael Matsuno, currently based in Los Angeles.
Been listening to:
Prokofiev, Piano Sonatas 5, 6, & 7 (played by Frederic Chiu)
Bach, Goldberg Variations (played by Murray Perahia)
Faulkner, The Town
Chabon, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh
Dissertation completed and graduation come and gone, I'm officially Dr. Groffman. One more big "thank you" to all the faculty of Indiana University for all their help over the years - it's been a wonderful place to study.
Some new media is up - those interested can see video from the live performance of my most recent electroacoustic piece, No compulsions now. Joining me in the performance were fellow composers Ryan Chase, Chappell Kingsland, and Chris Renk, carrying it off with aplomb.
Thanks also to Eric Bowling for his recent performance of Music from elsewhere: flute at Vincennes University.
Looking ahead, I'm pleased to say that in the spring I'll be teaching composition and theory at the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University - it's a great place, and I'm looking forward to joining the faculty. Happy Holidays to all!
Orals completed, I'm officially a doctoral candidate and graduating this coming December. A couple of new projects are under way, including Music from elsewhere: orchestra, my doctoral dissertation, and a new piece, Eight Miniatures, for Duo 231 (Samuel Crocker, horn, and Ariel Detwiler, bassoon) to be performed later this fall.
Over the summer, I also began work on a videorecording of Music from elsewhere: flute with help from Eric Bowling, for whom the piece was written and who premiered it earlier this year. That will be posted soon and I'm excited to be able to show a new, immersive way to interact with the piece; in the meantime, those interested can hear an audio-only version here.
Wearing a different hat (not really, of course - I don't wear hats), I'll be traveling to the American Musicological Society-Midwest Fall 2012 Meeting and the International Conference on Music Semiotics in Edinburgh, UK this fall to present on theory work I've done on spectralism, in particular the works of Kaija Saariaho and Gérard Grisey.
Been listening to:
Orals repertoire (!): Ligeti, Birtwistle, Stockhausen, Carter, Debussy, Stravinsky, Saariaho, Monteverdi, Strauss, Schubert, Brahms.
Faulkner: The Sound and the Fury, The Hamlet
Another busy semester over! Thanks to all the IU musicians who participated in my doctoral recital - it's always incredible to work with such focused, committed players. New audio from the recital should be up soon.
Recent compositions include a new work commissioned by the soprano-flute duo Tiffany Blake and Michelle Stanley, entitled When nightfall grays, setting texts by Thomas Hardy. They'll be performing the piece in Boulder, CO in spring 2013.
A new semester begins, with a couple of upcoming performances in the near future:
February 10 - A Walmart Version of You: Four Pieces for Four-Channel Tape will receive an encore performance at the Society for Electro-Acoustic in the United States 2012 National Conference at Lawrence University in Appleton, WI. A stereo mix of the piece is available on the Listen page.
February 26 - four works of mine, including a couple of premieres, will be presented at my doctoral recital in Auer Hall at Indiana University in Bloomington.
Also on the Listen page is audio (finally...) from this past summer's performance by the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble of Music from elsewhere, which was written for the 2011 Aspen Summer Music Festival.
April - May 2011
The school year is over and new audio is up! Those interested can head over to the Listen page for a variety of new recordings from performances given in the last few months. Thanks, as always, go to all the performers who contributed their time and efforts, it's been a fantastic year for collaborations with really great new music people.
The summer should provide time for equal measures of relaxation and productivity. Work is under way on a new piece for the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, to be performed at the Aspen Music Festival & School in late July. I'll be in Colorado for four weeks in June and July - very much looking forward to it!
Been listening to:
Adès: The Tempest, Violin Concerto
Foster Wallace: Infinite Jest
Bellow: Humboldt's Gift
January - March 2011
Sounds II for string quartet, Auer Hall, Indiana University, March 29
Sounds IIa for solo violin, John Sanderson, violin, Auer Hall, Indiana University, April 19
This Place for SATB choir and piano, Cornell University Chamber Singers, John Rowehl, conductor, Cornell University, May 3
November - December 2010
Fall 2010 finished up with some great performances. Thanks to David Christopher, the Delaware Valley Chorale, Carmen Téllez, and the Indiana University Contemporary Vocal Ensemble for their hard work and great performances of For you have struggled with God and with men - recordings will be posted as they become available. Thanks also to the KAM Isaiah Israel synagouge in Chicago for furnishing the location for the CVE performance - it's an incredible space in which to hear your music performed!
Work on the chamber orchestra piece, Sounds III, has been put aside for a while to work on a new choral piece for John Rowehl and the Cornell University Chamber Singers, to be performed this spring. Shaping up nicely, it's always nice to write for voices. Happy holidays to all!
Still busy, busy, busy, in a good way. (I'd forgotten, it having been a long time since I read Cat's Cradle, that "busy, busy, busy" is a technical term in the Bokononist religion. But I just meant that things have been busy.)
And for some actual news: my piece For you have struggled with God and with men has been named the winner of the 2010 IU Contemporary Vocal Ensemble Composition Competition. The group, under the direction of Carmen Helena Téllez, will perform movements II & III at the KAM Isaiah Israel Sinagogue in Chicago on December 5th.
Busy, busy, busy. Upcoming performances:
October 23: Music for piano four-hands feat. the magic fingers of Chappell Kingsland (and me) at Midwest Composers Symposium, Cincinnati, OH.
November 14 & 21: And Jacob Dreamed performed by the Delaware Valley Chorale in Wilmington and Newark, DE.
Date TBD: Sounds IIa: Study on the sounds of a solo violin to be performed in Bloomington, IN soon.
The school year is under way, and it's good to be back in Bloomington. I've spent the last few weeks sketching for the new sinfonietta piece and growing increasingly dependent on Michael Klingbeil's SPEAR program. In a nutshell, it analyzes any sound file you care to feed into it, presents you with a lot of spectral information (partial amplitudes, frequencies, etc.), and gives you tools to tinker with the file further. An awesome program for getting inside sounds and figuring out what makes them tick - highly recommended!
Been listening to:
Varèse: Octandre, Intégrales
Birtwistle: Silbury Air
Berg: Lyric Suite
Faulkner: Absalom, Absalom!
Jonathan Lethem: You Don't Love Me Yet
John Galsworthy: A Man of Property
All is well in scenic upstate New York. The string quartet, Sounds II, is done, although not the engraving, unfortunately (and Finale beginning to do some truly weird things on my computer...). Upcoming projects include a piece for sinfonietta (my first), wind quartet, and hopefully a short choral piece.
The musical highlight of the month was the Varèse festival at Lincoln Center, a real treat (and also my first opportunity to see the NY Philharmonic under Alan Gilbert). There aren't that many composers from the early 20th century that can sound thoroughly modern while being genuinely different from both Schoenberg and Stravinsky; Varèse struck me as one who can. He also had, throughout his life, really awesome hair.
Back from June in Buffalo, which was a fantastic experience. David Felder and company put together an incredible number of performances, presentations, and other events, and I've come home with a lot to think about! The rest of the summer should be more mellow; a string quartet is well under way and will hopefully be finished before too long.
In other news, my piece And Jacob Dreamed..., the first movement of my choral piece For you have struggled with God and with men, has been named the winner of the Delaware Valley Chorale 2010 Young Musician's Award and will be performed during their 2010-2011 season.
Been listening to:
Read Thomas: Terpsichore's Dream
Phan: Tragedy at the Opera
Graham Greene: Brighton Rock
Charles Frazier: Cold Mountain
Jane Smiley: Ten Days in the Hills
The school year is over at IU, one year of the doctorate down. Not too much planned for this summer - in a few weeks, I'll be heading to the June in Buffalo festival, where Ensemble Laboratorium will be playing my piece, January Miniatures (a recording from a previous performance is available on the Listen page). Other than that, things look to be quiet (and productive, hopefully).
Been listening to:
Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra
Mozart: Symphony No. 40 (it's been a standard rep couple of weeks)
Ian McEwan: Saturday, On Chesil Beach
Henry James: The Ambassadors
Diarmaid MacCulloch: The Reformation
April: Reading by the Contemporary Vocal Ensemble of two movements from For you have struggled with God and with men.
March: My piece Music/Musik for small orchestra, electric guitar, and drum set was named a finalist in the 2010 Morton Gould ASCAP Awards. Performance at IU of January Miniatures. Thanks to Eric, Sarah, Ryan, Nick, Sophie, and Kevin for their work on it!
December: Reading by the IU Concert Orchestra of But his shout was the loudest there.