Waves of Gratitude
October 30, 2018
The waves of love and gratitude I feel tonight just keep washing over me. Profound thanks to everyone who made tonight’s premier a reality! I can’t get over the extraordinary musicianship I heard tonight from Density512. The fact that so many people worked so hard to realize such a monstrous work levels me. The fact they did it so quickly and successfully is downright inspiring. Nicholas Perry Clark boldly programmed this work before it was finished, learned it quickly in spite of its many stark challenges, and led the group tonight through a stunning premier performance of the new Concerto for Horn and Chamber Orchestra. Michael Mikulka, you are a beast. I have never heard anyone produce horn multiphonics like you can — indeed, I suspect there are few who have so honed that component of the formidable craft that is horn playing. I will be forever indebted to you for all the time, energy, and care you put into teaching me about the instrument, showing me what’s possible and what isn’t, and indulging my curiosity. Then, he actually agreed to play this insane piece. And then he did it. I mean, he really did it! Tonight, he pulled off what we both estimate is one of the most difficult works for the instrument ever written. The evening would not have been the same - indeed, would not have been possible - without the support and love of so many people, many of whom made the effort to be here for the occasion. The warmth and generosity of all who came out tonight was palpable all throughout the evening; it fueled the orchestra, and lit up my world. So, thank you. Thank you all. I hope you all feel some measure of the gratitude and joy I feel tonight!
October 28, 2018
I can't believe it! We pulled it off! Huge thanks to Nick Perry Clark, whose baton kept everyone together through the insanity; to Chris at Density512 for pulling together such an extraordinary bunch of musicians; to all the musicians who put in the time and energy on this absurdly strange and difficult piece to make it happen; to Mike Mikulka for pushing the boundaries of what's possible for a single person with a double horn to do in an evening; and for everyone who came out, many of whom spent a few hours in the car to be here; and to our incredible and generous donors — to everyone involved with tonight: Thank you!!
Preparing for the Concerto Premier
October 24, 2018
We're working hard to make this beast of a piece come to life. Everyone's putting in the time, and things are on track for a solid performance. Hope to see everyone this weekend!
Reflecting on Fast Forward
September 24, 2018
Big thanks to everyone who came out to 4th tap last weekend. There's nothing like an adventurous, engaged, happy audience to make sure everyone has a ball! Absolutely stunning performances by everyone involved. Thanks to all our musicians, to all the great people at 4th Tap, and to the wonderful people of Austin for showing our visiting artists how we do in the 512. Bravi tutti!
Gearing up for Fast Forward Austin
September 10, 2018
We're getting pretty excited to bring you this outstanding concert loaded with new music. HUB New Music's Austin residency, made possible through the joint efforts of UT's Butler School of Music and Fast Forward Austin, will include a stop at our festival, as they play incredible new works by wonderful young composers, then join with local Density512 and One Ounce Opera to put on works by California-based Kenneth Froelich and local legend Graham Reynolds. One Ounce will also reprise their US premier of DOOR, which I loved earlier this year, and sing some songs on the side. Corps Multiple, an interdisciplinary project born of collaboration between François Minaux and Sandie Donzica will round out the evening with their eclectic, intriguing, emotive performances. It's crazy that this is a free show. Come out and see us!
August 12, 2018
Today was a big day for me, as I sent about a hundred pages of music to Nick Perry Clark, who is going to conduct the premier of my horn concerto, at the helm of Density512, a funky music collective devoted to homegrown art music. I've long been climbing toward this cairn, and am pleased to be passing by.
July 20, 2018
I'm thrilled to announce that Density512 will be premiering my Concerto for Horn & Chamber Orhcestra this fall!
July 13, 2018
Tonight was a wish come true. Getting to see these extraordinary musicians perform Beethoven’s Opp. 131 and 130 (with its proper ending, the Grosse Fuge) was a privilege and a treat. Unexpected bonus: I came to appreciate even more the Butler School’s own Miró Quartet and their exquisite interpretations of late Beethoven; we’re very fortunate to have them here.
June 2, 2018
A few days ago, several of my students performed for their school community at the innovative International School of Texas. Three students even premiered works I had written for them, duets for violin and piano (one of which featured the composer at the keyboard). Today, these and more students performed for a crowd of peers and parents at the Musicians Woodshed. Everybody did great - happy students, proud parents, and a satisfied teacher.
Fresh Squeezed Ounce of Opera
April 7, 2018
Friends and favorites One Ounce Opera are at it again this weekend with a mini-marathon of fresh mini-operas. A surprise cold-snap had the packed house huddled under blankets and sipping hot beverages while performers, surrounded on all sides by the shivering crowd, warmed our souls with their craft.
November 18, 2017
I got to see George Clinton, almost as close as I was to the guys of lul and pamplamousse. Guys - if anybody got funked up, if anybody got funked, if anybody got funked up, if anybody got funked, it - well, it was my brother and me.
October 23, 2017
Composer, Fast Forward Austin co-director, and person I admire Steve Snowden asked me to become a part of the organization. After pinching myself to see if I was awake, and then dutifully sleeping on it, I heartily and gratefully accepted the invitation. I’ve long enjoyed their work, and am honored to help moving forward.
October 20, 2017
Local heroes Line Upon Line percussion teamed up with secret special guests Ensemble Pamplamousse to put on a groovy performance of some great art music on Austin’s East Side. Big Medium was the perfect venue for the lovely wilderness.
October 16, 2017
I’ve been greatly enjoying the NOW Ensemble’s residency here in Austin. A coalition of the Butler School of Music, the University of Texas Performing Arts Center, and Fast Forward Austin has made their week here not only possible, but rich and enjoyable for students and for the community at large. Really cool stuff.
September 14, 2017
Esperanza Spalding is writing and recording an album live this weekend, showing us every step of her creative process in an unprecedented act of performative art-making. Since I happen to be in the midst of my least favorite step of my creative process - data entry - I’m sweetening the medicine with some soulful songbird magic, and grateful for it. (And yes, that’s Dorico on the screen - it’s getting better all the time.)
May 1, 2017
Steinberg has released a new notation software called Dorico that shows real promise. Though some basic functionality has still yet to be implemented, some features it already offers make it worth investigating. Here I go on my free trial month; I’ll keep you posted.
January 25, 2017
It's hard to believe how much time has been flying by. I'm making progress on the Concerto for Horn and Chamber Orchestra that should see its premier next fall, and have been laying the groundwork for the next major work. As crazy as the world is, I'd like to take a moment to encourage you to find time to breathe in some fresh air, and enjoy some tacos.
Last night's premier
November 22, 2016
Well that was wonderful! Such a great performance by such excellent musicians... I couldn't have asked for a better premier for "5 mystic songs." The magical Olivia Pepper even got to hear how her words have been transformed through the music they inspired. Big thanks to all who made Friday night's Fresh Squeezed Ounce of Art Song Concert not only possible, but a terrific success. Look for more collaboration with One Ounce Opera soon...
5 mystic songs tomorrow
November 17, 2016
It's here! Come see us Friday, November 18, as One Ounce Opera premiers fresh new works at the Fresh Squeezed Ounce of Art Song Concert. I'll conduct the premier of my song cycle, "5 mystic songs", which will feature a string quartet comprising Kelsey Craggett, Andrew Green, Brett Detweller, and Philip Whitney, joining the beautiful voice of Angela Irving. We turn the quartet into a meditation bowl, coloring the verse penned by roving mystic and fount of spiritual wisdom, Olivia Pepper. Come join us for entertainment and enlightenment! (fb event page here.)
New Crowdfunding Campaign
October 8, 2016
So, I've got some big news. A couple of months ago, I sat down for lattes with One Ounce Opera's director, Julie Fiore, and we talked about an idea I had for an opera. Before I could see the bottom of my mug, Julie said, "I love it. Let's make this happen." We're excited. And we could use a hand in bringing this project to fruition. If you'd care to find out more, check out our crowdfunding campaign, courtesy of local Austin Arts non-profit, BELTA: Building Empowered Lives Through Art. From production to composition, even the people administrating the crowdfunding campaign, everything about this production is a labor of love, and your every donation makes a big difference. Please help us bring this to life! Thank you so much!
Art Song Cycle Premier Announced
October 6, 2016
One Ounce Opera has set the date for their Fresh Squeezed Ounce of Art Song Concert, and it promises to be a night of delights. My song cycle, 5 mystic songs, will be premiered by Angela Irving, local singer, performer, and voice teacher. Five little character pieces scored for string quartet and voice, each setting an aphoristic verse penned by roving mystic and fount of spiritual wisdom, Olivia Pepper. Come join us for entertainment and enlightenment! (fb event page here.)
September 24, 2016
That party was rad. My band Literally On Fire just released our debut record, Lost and Found, and we had a hell of a fine time doing it. Bunch of friends and strangers showed up, and Guy Forsyth even came out and played the party too. Cool pics at our instagram, or you can check out the album on Spotify.. Enjoy!
Literally On Fire
July 29, 2016
I'm happy to report that my funky, genre-bending rock band Literally On Fire has announced its presence to the world! (Listen target="_blank" here.) We'll soon release a full-length album, and our first gig is at the Grand Stafford Theater this Friday, August 5th, where we'll perform with the funky New Orleans outfit Chapter:SOUL. If you're planning to be in downtown Bryan, I hope you'll bring your dancing shoes - I will!
Recent Performances of American Counterpoint
June 7, 2016
I'm still on fire about how TC4 decided to take on American Counterpoint. For such a fantastic group of musicians to put so much sweat and love into the piece, and then go share it across the state - deeply humbling, gratifying, and exhilerating. Looking forward to your next album, guys!... ; )
Amid The Noise
May 1, 2016
Well last night was incredible. FFA's Amid The Noise concert last night knocked everybody out. The venue was super funky and chill. The Cordova Quartet offered an intense, very high-caliber performance of a new string quartet by Austin composer Robert Gross, followed with smaller works by local legend Graham Reynolds. We'll be hearing more from these guys. The Kraken Quartet manned a nifty setup of many percussion instruments and jammed their sticks, keys, and mallets heavy breed of Austin-based post-rock, groovy, crossover cuts that kept everybody vibing and bobbin their heads. Then four guys walked on stage, assuming the center of everyone's attention. Their leader, Travis Laplante, effectively led all assembled in a moment of silent focus, creating a space for the experience he was about to transmit to us. After this significant pause, present and deeply grounded, he led the quartet into sound. And what sound. For 45 minutes, we were all transported, transfixed, as Battle Trance performed Palace Of Wind in its entirety. Travis, along with Jeremy Viner, Patrick Breiner, and Matthew Nelson, have dug deep within themselves and their instruments and come up with a sonic permormance revelation, rich and varied with moments of still reflection akin to sleepy daydreams, and moments of primal animalcy akin to Lightning Bolt. I didn't know anyone there who'd ever really heard anything like it. A massive percussion ensemble rounded off the evening nicely with a joyous piece by So Percussion's Jason Treuting that gave the evening its monacre, Amid the Noise. Walked away with a copy of "Palace of Wind" (on vinyl (with digital download), no less), feeling fortunate to have been in attendance, and delighted to call this town my home.
Fast Forward Austin
April 30, 2016
Can't wait to hear all the cool stuff these great composers and players have cooked up for this evening. Also can't believe the show's free! Cool venue, 4th tap brew coop, goes for hip and homey vibe, even lets you bring your own food - though there will be a food truck onsite, looks like PickAChili. More info here and here. Hope to see some of you there!
TC4 Quartet takes American Counterpoint on tour
April 28, 2016
A few months ago, I got an email from Dr. Andrew Harrison saying his newly formed professional saxophone quartet, TC4, wanted to play American Counterpoint on a series of concerts they were planning in Central Texas. I took a look at the lineup, which includes Austin Saxophone Ensemble's Andy Wilds, fellow UT composition grad Walter Nichols, and the wonderful Ben Kessler, a new music enthusiast, instrumental master (and, like Andy, an American Counterpoint veteran ; ), what could I say but: "Hell yeah!"The first concert will be at 8pm on Monday, May 2, at the Austin Mennonite Church. Find out more. See you there!
Coming up for air
April 23, 2016
Whew! What a year so far - cliché, I know, but I can't believe it's almost a third over... (incidentally, also true of my first century since birth...; ) Things have been wild. My band - which you'll soon hear about - found a drummer, and we started rehearsing like crazy, getting our butts in gear and our gear in shape to release all the cool stuff we've been prepping for you guys. Throw into that finding a new place to live (getting new keys in 10 days) and teaching 40+ lessons every week, and I've had my hands full! I'll be better about posting in the next few weeks than I have in the last few months ; )
Happy New Year!
January 1, 2016
I hope everyone's had a relaxing holiday, and is feeling recharged and ready to take on 2016. Really looking forward to sharing with you all the heaps of exciting news in the coming months - I'll keep you posted ; ) Happy New Year!
December 19, 2015
Good grief, it's been a busy year! I've been teaching a lot - like, 45 lessons every week a lot - and all the while working on a few major projects that you'll all see in 2016. Before we get there (or then), I'd just like to thank you for being here. Happy Holidays, and I'll see you next year!
October 24, 2015
Well folks, unmark your calendars, because One Ounce Opera has moved back the dates for the premier of "5 mystic songs." The troupe has had their hands more than full with "There's Beauty in the Beast," which opened last night - I can't wait to see it next weekend (tickets here). It looks like the concert series will kick off in fall 2016. Still very excited to present this music to you all - I'll keep you all posted. Fun fact: lot's of cool stuff in development for next year!
Upcoming premier at Fresh Squeezed Ounce of Song
October 7, 2015
Well folks, mark your calendars, because One Ounce Opera has set the dates for the premier of "5 mystic songs" for soprano and string quartet! The text was written by Olivia Pepper, whose magical words inspired a fun (and occasionally funny) set of songs - which will be brought to life by Angela Irving, soprano extraordinaire. Can't wait to share this with you all! The songs will be premiered alongside several new works by local composers - too cool. Performances Friday November 20, 6:30pm at Kick Butt Coffee; Saturday November 21, 6:30pm at Infinite Monkey Theorem; and Sunday November 22, 2pm at Salvage Vanguard Theater.
August 23, 2015
A while back, I wrote to the delightful Olivia Mercury Pepper asking of her words that I might set to music. I can't describe the response I got, but I'll try: her response was warm, not only the words, but the sunlight streaming through, a glowing, spiritual humanity bursting, only seams that revealed the truth, beams catching the dust in the air of the room as I read... and this is why I leave the poetry to the poets. I am happy to report that "5 mystic songs" is not only finished, and that the piece is slated to be premiered in November at One Ounce Opera's Fresh Squeezed Ounce of Song Concert. Woohoo! I'll keep you posted. : )
Marian Anderson String Quartet 10th Annual Chamber Music Institute
June 26th, 2015
Such a pleasure to see the Marian Anderson String Quartet. Always in fine form, they put on an exceptionally charged concert to conclude their 10th annual Chamber Music Institute. For the final piece, they joined alumni and former students for a fun performance of Mozart's K 525, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. The final movement they performed themselves, inviting the audience to come up to the stage and stand around them, simulating for all the experience of the few who stay up with the Andersons after long days of rehearsals and performances, reading chamber music together, often into the wee hours. A magical, classy, intimate finish to a remarkable endeavor that has brought immeasurable joy to many, I'll always remember tonight.
Eddie and the Evereadys
May 13th, 2015
Today, Zarina and I discovered another wonderful blues group in Austin. Such a wealth of good music in this little city. If you’re ever out and about and get the chance, check out Eddie and the Evereadys, a bunch of traditional blues and funk/soul musicians playin’ it all tasty-like. Nice dancin’ music!
Fast Forward Austin
April 25, 2015
Congrats to Ian Dicke, Robert Honstein, Steve Snowden, and Charlie Magnone on another successful Fast Forward Austin new music festival. I taught all day, then went to a wedding, so I have no complaints, but I wish I could have been there to catch all the wonderful acts. Check out their upcoming events here.
Super cute kids play me happy birthday
April 23, 2015
Today, for my birthday, I taught a couple of students how to play happy birthday on their instruments. Too cute. I love my life : )
One Ounce Opera’s Third Annual Listening Garden
March 10th, 2015
Big thanks to everybody who made yesterday happen. So much fun to hear such cool and varied music played by great musicians, and so gratifying to hear my music performed by the wonderful likes of Julie Fiore, Charmaine Flake, Andy Wilds, Ben Kessler, Charles Herbert Chadwell V, BillyJon McPhail. To you amazing musicians, and to everybody at One Ounce Opera, thank you for a wonderful afternoon : )
Live Music in Austin
February 15, 2015
I’ve lived in Austin for over 6 years, and so far I’ve mostly gone to “classical” music performances. Recently, I started checking out more live music in town, and golly, is it fun! Whether or not one agrees with the title, there’s a reason why Austin bills itself as the Live Music Capital of the World! Example: The Little Elmore Reed Blues Band, a group of excellent classic blues players knockin' it out every Monday night at the King Bee Lounge on the East side. Austinites (and visitors!), don’t forget that there’s world-class music happening all around you - come check it out!
Mozart’s Birthday, Non-Classical Voice Recital
January 27, 2015
Today, on Mozart’s birthday no less, I had the privilege and the pleasure of accompanying members of David Small’s Non-Classical Voice class. Such a joy to work with such talented people - not the least of which is David Small himself! What a wonderful human being : ) Thank you, David, for teaching me so much, about singing, about teaching, about musicality, and about what music can be and do for people!
String Arrangements for Micah Wagner
December 17th, 2014
For the last several months, I've been playing guitar, keys, and singing backup vocals with the wonderful and talented Micah Wagner, and his band, The Strange Rendezvous. Our work together continues into his second album, on which I'll be involved writing string and vocal arrangements, singing, and playing guitar. Check out his first album, Micah Wagner – 7 Years, 6 Months Late. Looking forward to sharing the new stuff with you in the coming months!
Austin Saxophone Ensemble performs American Counterpoint
October 18th, 2014
Whew, what a week! After an excellent concert Sunday by the Austin Saxophone Ensemble (featuring an excellent performance of American Counterpoint for Sax Quartet by Andy Wilds, Ben Kessler, Charlie Chadwell, and Nathan Mertens!), I had to double-time it writing and rehearsing guitar, piano, and string parts for a new song on an upcoming album, then took off Monday night, studio-bound. Tuesday and Wednesday flew by in the magical blur of recording, and we got some incredible work done. Looking forward now to finishing up the album, and diving back into composition of a more classical-leaning nature!
Poor Shadows of Elysium presents Shakespeare's Antony & Cleopatra
Weekends in May were fun this year, as I got to join fellow UT musicians in providing a soundtrack to The Poor Shadows of Elysium's production of Shakespeare's too infrequently performed tragedy, Antony & Cleopatra. Craig Sheffield (percussion), Eddie Hsu (ney), James Brian Griffith (oud, trumpet) and I (viola, percussion) played renditions of middle eastern folk songs, and improvised on themes we created for the show. Great fun! Here's a review of the show from Austin Fusion Magazine.
May 16th, 2014
It's official: I have a Bachelor's of Music in Composition from The University of Texas. Tremendous thanks to the wonderful faculty, staff, and students at The Butler School of Music – it's been a wonderful adventure!
April 26th, 2014
Finished up my tenure at UT's Butler School of Music with a wonderful composition recital, with excellent performances of three premiers. Helen Bravenec and Bob Lewis kicked the night off with "A Silver Lining" for violin and piano, then Page Stephens and Andrew Boss took us away with "Songs of Love & Loss," a cycle of Emily Dickinson poems set for piano and voice. Last but not least, Andy Wilds, director of the Austin Saxophone Ensemble, led a quartet comprising ASE members Ben Kessler, Charlie Chadwell, and Nathan Mertens, in a rousing rendition of "American Counterpoint" for sax quartet. They killed it, and brought the house down.
Wesley Lunsford – So Much More
October 22, 2013
Wesley Lunsford's album, So Much More, dropped on CDBaby, iTunes, and Spotify. He approached me during recording about string arrangements, which I provided for “I Lied” and “Bells & Clicks.” Listen here.
Multimedia Collaboration for Ears, Eyes, and Feet
May 2-3, 2013
Audrey Halm, Jared Broussard, and I saw our collaborative efforts come to fruition at the Ears, Eyes, and Feet performances of 2013. Wonderful work by dancers Chelsea Pribble, Angela Hurt, and Lucy Kerr, who realized Audrey's choreography with grace, skill, and heart. Jared is a beast on the trumpet, and Wailed away, bringing the live acoustic part of the piece to life. Excellent job by all involved. Premiers by Eli Fieldsteel, Ethan Greene, and many others rounded out a wonderful and successful night of student collaborations. Listen here.