Installation Progress Update 2 – And MORE

So now we’re really getting into making this project. Here’s just a taste of what is to come – guest starring Kyle Tieman-Strauss.

Other things:

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been putting out a good number of electronic pieces. It turns out writing electronic music is pretty fun. Here’s a piece I did a few weeks ago. It’s getting played this Sunday at the Beer Grotto in Ann Arbor as part of ÆPEX Contemporary Performance’s “Sound System Takeover” If you’re in the area, definitely check it out!

Also coming up are some performances I’m extremely excited about. The JACK Quartet is going to be premiering one of my newest pieces, Parse, on April 24th at 8pm at the Provincetown Playhouse along side other pieces by graduate composers at NYU.

Over the course of this year, I’ve also been developing this collaborative group, reaching out to some of my best friends here in New York. Our group, Transfer is Available, is a gathering of artists, musicians, and collaborators working together to create fascinating, new, and interesting multimedia work. On April 16th, we’re going to be presenting a small debut of works by some of the awesome people involved in this project, Andrew NoseworthyKyle Tieman-StraussAaron GarciaTanea HynesAngie Conte, and myself. It would mean a lot to all of us to see you there! This show is just the start of something we’re hoping to make even bigger and better. More info here!- Continue Reading -

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Installation Progress Update 1

So in my last post, I mentioned my collaboration with Aya Terki. We’re working on an installation that plays with the idea of self perception and perspective. We want to put this installation at a video wall on the 6th floor of the Steinhardt building at 35 W 4th street. It features an array of speakers and a large panel of monitors in a 3×2 grid. We want to play with positioning of images in this 3×2 grid as well as positioning of sounds through the space of the speakers. There is a camera already mounted into the wall, but we are wanting to add a few more cameras to capture some different angles.

The general experience we are wanting to design would be to approach the installation, hear a steady sound, see a steady photograph of yourself, and then experience the evolution and manipulation of both as a representation of distortion of self image.

Something important we wanted to take into consideration was that this space is frequented by mostly the same group of people, composers and music technology students. With this same group coming in all the time, we wanted to keep this installation changing to stay interesting for this group. To do this, Aya and I have planned out 3 stages of development for this project. The first stage would be establishing the image and setting as a place for just self portraits with long sustained images. It would also start to collect and store pictures for future use in the installation. The second stage would juxtapose different camera perspectives against each other, make use of more space in the grid, and play with different sizes and weights of images and sounds. The final stage would be to start colliding images of people at different perspectives as well as incorporate the images taken in the first week.… - Continue Reading -

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Stop. Collaborate and Listen.

New York has certainly kept me busy. I’ve been writing an enormous amount of music, and I’ve grown immensely as a composer and artist. As a result, I’m involving myself in a ton of collaborative projects with some amazing new friends in the city.
Right now I want to focus on two of these collaborations: an installation based project working with contemporary cellist, Aya Terki, and an ongoing, multifaceted partnership with composers at NYU collectively called Transfer is Available.

I always had an interest in doing electronic work as well as visual work, and now I’ve finally managed to start really diving into both realms. Since starting I’ve witnessed a strange disconnect between visual arts and the musical arts in academia, which to me seems like a big part in some disjunction between how visual artists and musicians collaborate and interact with each other. Engaging both the visual and aural senses to create a whole body of expression (I’m thinking in terms of more experimental mediums rather than opera or drama) seems like a logical next step for the arts. Combining these two worlds together seems to be my driving force behind these two projects and why I’m so interested in pursuing it.

The first project with Aya, is still very much in its early stages. Both of us are currently taking a course in Installation Media at NYU and this project serves as an introduction for both of us into the world of installations. I’ll be posting updates for our project, including pictures, patches, random thoughts, and ideas as we work through it.

The next collaboration, Transfer is Available, has been something that’s been cooking for quite a while. I’ve been working with Kyle Tieman-Strauss, Aaron Garcia, and Andrew Noseworthy to discuss different projects and ideas we want to build together, with a focus on creating multimedia works that create a holisticly larger and more effective artistic experience through working incredibly closely and collaboratively with other artists of multiple disciplines.… - Continue Reading -

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Summer Recap

I got a day job this summer. The pay was okay. The hours got better once learned how to balance everything. I’m only did this on the side to help make ends meet, but I also had this nagging thought running through my head. “How long will this job go on until this just becomes what I do?” It’s a scary thought. I’m not the only one who has faced this problem, and I’m certainly not the last. It took a while to get over it but I eventually did. This is how I realized that a day job doesn’t have to be this scary thing that derails you from your goals, and in fact, it has the potential to positively influence your art and career.

I knew that this was just a job for the summer until I made the move to New York. I knew that there were going to be better opportunities for me to take once I moved. It was just really unnerving looking ahead at the future and only being able to see a hazy image of what may or may not happen.

After a few weeks of working my day job, I headed off to Kenosha, WI for the Fresh Inc. Festival to work with members of 5th House Ensemble and Stacy Garrop. It was two weeks packed with concerts, lessons, rehearsals, and most importantly, workshops to help us launch our careers as composers, musicians, artists, and entrepreneurs. By the end of the festival, I got a fresh perspective on what it takes to start new arts ventures, how to establish and develop relationships with potential collaborators, and how the path to success is a roller coaster of both failures and successes. It was a great experience filled with great people.

One of the most impactful things that I got out of the festival was a conversation I had with Herine Coetzee Koschak, the incredible cellist for the 5th House Ensemble who also premiered my most recent work, Torsion.… - Continue Reading -

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A Slight Change of Plans

My last post was at the start of my fourth year of my undergraduate study, and now this post is happening right at the end. In September, I had this grand plan laid out in front of me. I was going to take an extra year of undergraduate study to finish with a degree in both Music Composition and Microbiology. I was going to to use that year to really focus on building a solid portfolio to apply for a Masters program in Composition. I was going to visit schools and professors to see which programs were best suited for me. I was going to use the summer to get another festival under my belt and try to get really solid recordings of my work. That timeline didn’t exactly stick. I had to adjust my plans accordingly, and these past few months have been intense journy.

  • September – Long discussions with my parents. Removed double major in Microbiology. Portfolio Panic.
  • October – Rough draft of an Orchestral piece. Lots of coffee. Revisions.
  • November – Orchestration and notation. More coffee…a lot more coffee. Editing. Resume building. Applications. Essays. Statements of purpose. Visited New York City. More editing.
  • December – “Are you sure you would like to submit your application?” ……yes. Christmas. Still not done. More applications.
  • January – “Please review your application before submitting”x10. Send. Breathe… Auditions Panic.
  • February – Aural skills review. Sight singing review. Theory review. Overnight assignment practice. Coffee. Overnight assignment practice again. Coffee. Overnight assignment practice again again. “Congratulations! You have been accepted to ….” and “It is with great regret that…”
  • March – New York. Auditions. auralskills-theory-overnightassignment. Interview. Breath… Meet Julia Wolfe. See NYU’s Campus. Attempt to contain excitement.
  • April – Decide to go to NYU.

I condensed almost an entire year’s worth of work into just a few months.… - Continue Reading -

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I remember coming across an article about Morton Feldman that said that he would always compose in pen. He would go on writing, and if he noticed that he was scribbling too many thing off the page, he would stop and be done for the day. He treated composing as if it were an act of performing.

Everyone has their routines and rituals they do whenever they set out to work. I have to have my coffee at the right time. My chair has to be the right height. I only write with Palamino Blackwing Pencils. It has to be the right paper. And, my ruler has to be within arms reach at all times.

But do any of those things really matter? Do they actually help me write better? No. In reality these are things that just mask insecurities of whatever I am working on. It’s like I’m saying “If I write with these pencils in this setting at this time of the day, I’ll do great work!” How ridiculous does that sound? All I really need is something to write with and some manuscript. That’s it. Through my experience playing piano and trumpet, I’ve found that when I’m just playing to have fun, I improve so much faster and perform at a much higher level. This is the same performing experience I want to have when I sit down to compose. Having this ritualistic act of writing adds a layer of stress and overthinking that doesn’t need to be there.

When you are working on a draft, there needs to be a flow to your work. The creativity needs to come out uninhibited by your mind saying “this isn’t good enough, what are you doing?” There is a time and place for that part of your brain to come out and shine, but the early stages of a work is certainly not it.… - Continue Reading -

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Return Home

The Atlantic Music Festival finished a few weeks ago and I have to say that it was an incredible experience. I got to work with some incredible performers who premiered works of mine. I am so grateful for them to have worked on my pieces and all of the performances went fantastically. I also got to meet with some amazing composers from around the northeast, such as Nils Vigeland, Eric Ewazen, Robert Paterson, Ken Ueno, Robert Cuckson, Stephen Cabell, George Tsontakis, and David Ludwig. Getting to know so many different composers from around the world was also a great experience and hopefully the connections made here will last through my career as a composer.

In my earlier post about the Hero’s Journey, I talked about how a character ventures off into something unknown, goes through a series of tests, and comes back changed. This is exactly how my experience with AMF can be described. I entered the festival a little unsure of my abilities as a composer, but definitely willing to learn and adapt. I’m leaving the festival with a new sense of self confidence and ready to tackle my next pieces and looking for new challenges.

Throughout all of my experiences there, I want to share a few of the things I got from the festival.

Performers and Composers need a symbiotic relationship if either of them are going to survive.

“Write so that your performers sound great. When they sound great, you sound great.” Almost everything I experienced in working with the performers held true to this. I treated my performers like rockstars, because to me, thats what they were. I gave them works that, although difficult, highlighted some great aspects of their playing, and as a result, they sounded awesome.

In the long term, I see this being even more important.… - Continue Reading -

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It’s a Rough Draft for a Reason

I’ve been stuck on this same movement of this flute piece for a good while now, but I finally feel like I’ve made some headway. I was in the middle of writing the rough draft thinking, “I don’t know what else to write. What do I do?” I had my roadmap perfectly laid out in front of me but i still couldn’t find the actual notes to fit what I wanted. I took a break and came back to it after a few days of vacation, which was fantastic by the way, but time went on and I realized that it had been forever since I touched the piece. In a way, I was afraid that whatever was going to come out next wasn’t going to be good enough. More time passed and I realized I hadn’t touched the score in far too long. It doesn’t matter what I write as long as I write SOMETHING. Get to the double barline and finish this draft. Who cares if it sucks, I can fix it after I know what I want fixed. So I wrote. And then I wrote some more. And then I realized I hated what I wrote, so I fixed it. And then I wrote some more. And even though what I wrote didn’t seem like it was that great at first, it was still better than having it as empty space on the score waiting to be written. Even if I absolutely hated what I ended up writing, I figured, “Screw it. I can always go and change it when I know what actually goes there.”

I remember working on essays and learning about the writing process way back in grade school. Start with your prewrite phase, do you first draft, edit and revise, and set up the final draft.… - Continue Reading -

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New Recordings

In case you missed my recital last month (or just want to hear it all again), here are the recordings! Please Enjoy.

- Continue Reading -

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Good News, Bad News, and Good Bad News

Good News: I am very pleased to say that my Junior Recital(s) went fantastically. Thank you to everyone who performed and thank you to everyone who came! It meant a lot!

Bad News: Exams. Papers. Deadlines.

Bad News: Rejection Letters.

Good News: Those rejection letters caused the most cathartic writing session I’ve ever had.

Good News: I just got accepted into the Atlantic Music Festival in Waterville, Maine! I’ll be learning from an amazing group of faculty including David Ludwig, Eric Ewazen, George Tsontakis, Ken Ueno, Nils Vigeland, Robert Cuckson, Robert Paterson, Stephen Cabell, Sheridan Seyfried, Vivian Fung, Mari Kimura, Jean-Baptiste Barrièr, and Tom Zicarelli. I’ll also be getting to know and working with some very talent musicians from all over the nation.

Bad News: I have less than a month to write a new piece.

Good News: I get to write a new piece.

Bad News: More deadlines.

Good News: I’m getting to be really good at writing fast.

Bad News: This past weekend, I went through 3 different occasions of throwing everything out the window and starting from scratch

Good News: By throwing old things out and starting out with something new, the new stuff made the old stuff viable again.

Good Bad News: Things rarely turn out how you would expect, but the unexpected keeps things interesting.… - Continue Reading -

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