Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Now it is April, 2008 and I have several interesting premieres in the last few months.

April 10. Premiere of my piece, Who Am I?, commissioned by Joseph Olzacki for the Bloomfield Connecticut School system. The premiere was presented in Hartford's Bushnell Auditorium. it was a superb event. I hope to post more info about this piece for chorus and band soon.

To the Horizon was premiered in February by Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska, David Bohnert, music director. They did a great job with a difficult piece. I will post a MP3 soon.

Friday, April 11, 2008


I have completed the composition, Visions. It was premiered on March 29, 2007, in Hartford's Bushnell Auditorium by the combined forces of the Bloomfield Public Schools music programs. I was not there, but I heard that the premiere was quite well received. I finished the composition for the Hillsboro, New Hampshire school system, Entitled "Sally's Gallery," the piece is four movements. Movement 1 is for the 5th grade band, "The Little Factory." The music is a rhythmic set of machine sounds and motor rhythms, complete with "factory whistles" and percussive sounds from stomping and clapping. The second movement, "Presidential Playground," is for the middle school band and is a muscial depiction of what the playground noise might have sounded like if there were playgrounds in Hillsboro in 1804, when Hillsboro native and US 14th president, Franklin Pierce, would have been a boy and played outside. The third movement is for the high school. "Stone Ghosts" reflects the images of the cemeteries in Hillsboro, and the kinds of sounds that one might hear or imagine in and around them. The final movement is for all three bands combined. "Sunday, July 4th" is a piece that presents a Sunday chior practice on Sunday, July 4th, interrupted by the sounds of the 4th of July marching band parading past. The piece will be premiered in Hillsboro, New Hampshire, on May 19th. Commissions: I have accepted commissions from a school system in Hillsboro, New Hampshire, to write a four-movement piece for the whole music program in the town! First movement - youngest ensembles, second movement middle school groups, third movement- high school groups - fourth movement - tutti! This should be great fun. It will be premiered in May of 2007. I am finishing a commission for band and chorus for Bloomfield High School (CT). Entitled "Visions",It will be premiered in the Bushnell Auditorium on March 30,f 2007. Part of the mystical aspect of the music is reflected through the use of a crystal glass choir (my first glasses piece was Crystals - Ludwig Music Publishing Company, 1987). I have written the words as well.

Fingal's Cave

I premiered my chamber piece, Fingal's Cave: the Space between Sacred and Secular, on Satuday, Sept. 30, in the Yale Center for British Art. The ensemble was comprised of a woodwind quintet and a string quartet. The program notes follow: Dedicated to Amy Meyers, in celebration of the collaboration of our "arts." Fingal's Cave - A Space Between Sacred and Secular This piece is based on the 1832 painting by J.M.W. Turner Staffa - Fingal's Cave. This painting depicts the ethereal basalt promontory that houses Fingal's Cave, as seen from the sea during rather windy or stormy weather, with a steam boat close to the cave. Poised just off the coast of the island of Staffa is a steamboat - a paddleboat - indistinct in its presence from the background water. Its engine fire appears as a point of red. This painting presents the dialectic between the sacred, and perhaps ancient, presence that embodies or radiates from the cave, and the empirical forces of the humans and their boat that approach the cave from the sea. Sea and boat, sacred and secular, light and darkness, mystical rapture and the unsettling storminess of the water, Apollonian and Dionysian all reflect the symbiosis of spiritual and concrete matters. This music is constructed to reflect that dialectic, which conforms roughly to the attributes of the hemispheres of the brain - affective versus cognitive. One can hear the people here and there sometimes reveling in Scottish or English folk music, sometimes singing, sometimes invoking (hymns, ancient shofar calls). One can hear the Cave timeless, ethereal, romantically unfocused, pure, crystalline. Each element has its own meter and where the spaces between the sacred and secular are held in common, the meters are presented simultaneously. (The conductor presents a different meter in each hand sharing common downbeats As humans are contra-laterally designed, the affective properties of the right hemisphere of the brain are reflected in the meters of the left hand, and the classical cognitive properties of the left hemisphere of the brain appear in the music directed by the right hand.) Lines blur, just as in the painting. This painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1832 and was cited as "one of the most perfect expressions of the romanticism style of art." It was Turner's first painting to go to the United States but remained unsold for 13 years. James Lennox, who bought the painting through a broker, expressed his disappointment with this purchase by saying the painting was "indistinct" in its execution. When Turner heard this his reply was "You should tell him that indistinctness is my forte."

Norfolk Centenary Band

My professional band, this time appearing as the Norfolk Centenary Band, played an outstanding concert on Saturday, July 29, at the Music Shed on the grounds of the Ellen Battell Stoeckel Estate for the Yale Summer Festival. After an adequate rehearsal, they played one of the better concerts of the 13 years that we have been around. We all agreed that perhaps the secret is playing inside as opposed to outside... The Band received a standing ovation after the overture! On impulse, I promised to return in the fall with the undergraduate Yale Concert Band for a short concert. We played: Jack Stamp: Star-Spangled Banner, A Love Song for Our Country; Rossini: Overture: William Tell Overture ; Grainger: Irish Tune ­ Danny Boy/ Shepherd's Hey; Gershwin: American In Paris; Duffy: A Parisian In America; Sullivan: Pineapple Poll Ballet; Copland: Stomp Your Foot/ The Promise of Living ; Wagner: Elsa's Procession; Sousa: The National Game JP Sousa; Dragon: America The Beautiful; Fillmore: American's We


I am writing a piece for premiere on September 29, 2006, in the Yale Center for British Art. The music will be based on one of two paintings, both of which present a dialectic in vision. My piece will be a split-brained conductor piece, along the lines of Corpus Callosum. More later. May, 2006. I wrote a short piece for the Minnehaha Christian Academy Band. It is Good Neighbors, and is dedicated to Mr. Paul Isaacs. In this piece, the hymn Duke Street is presented in a simple setting with added neighbor tones. The good neighbors return to their structural base pitches; the "bad" neighbors stick on the dissonant pitch! The final verse is set with only "good" neighbors and a woodwind counterpoint that makes for a beautiful finish. I envision this piece as the partner piece, in concept, to my composition A+: A Precise Prelude and an Excellent March.

Tom Duffy appointed Acting Dean, Yale School of Music for 2005-2006. Yale Daily News article.


Notes from 2001. Overture 1776, premiered 9/1/01 at West Point.Wow!!! There were 12,000 people in the audience at West Point on September 1, 2001. I was commissioned to write a piece for the Bicentennial of the US Military Academy at West Point. I decided to write the kind of piece that everyone will want to perform at patriotic concerts, so I rewrote the 1812 Overture! WHY, TO CELEBRATE AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE FROM GREAT BRITAIN ON THE 4TH OFJULY, DO AMERICANS CONTINUE TO PLAY THIS PIECE OF MUSIC BY A RUSSIAN COMPOSER THAT ADDRESSES THE BATTLE BETWEEN THE RUSSIANS AND THE FRENCH IN 1812??? Because it has fireworks, bells, cannons, and a chance for a chorus to sing. So does my "new" piece: Overture 1776 is very much like 1812 Overture: it has bells and cannons, it supports fireworks and has the chance for a chorus to sing (but my chorus sings Chester not the Russian hymn). My piece tells the story of the British and American conflict. My music is The World Turned Upside Down (allegedly the British played this when Cornwallis surrendered to Washington), The British Grenadiers, God Save Our King (or My Country Tis of Thee, as it becomes throughout the end of my piece, with a great wink to Charles Ives' Variations on America), Chester, The White Cockade (the Minutemen played this fife tune on the way to fire the Shot Heard 'Round The World in Massachusetts), and instead of that famous Tchaikovskian bass-line that accompanies the first burst of cannon fire in 1812, my piece features Yankee Doodle - still pumped out by the trombones and then entire low brass section. My overture is exactly as long as 1812 Overture. The Army shot off eight howitzers during the piece and then thumped the audience with a massive fireworks show. I hope that you are curious about this piece and choose to do it instead of 1812 the next time you are called to play something patriotic and theatrical. Thanks to Ltc. David Deitrick Jr for extending the commission to me, and for all of the wonderful preparation and patience throughout the three days they had it before the concert! ************************************************************************ There are some new performances of Three Places in New Haven for marimba, percussion soli, and wind ensemble (written for Robert VanSice). He asked that I write something with band accompaniment that would involve the percussion section (as well as the percussion soloist) in some kind of concerto grosso-like piece. Cool idea! There are three movements, each based on some aspect of Charles Ives in New Haven: Castle in the Sky, The Long Wharf, and City Band March. This piece was premiered at the University of Akron on February 20, 2001, Robert Jorgensen conducting. See program notes in my catalogue. Bob is playing the piece with the Yale Concert Band on Friday, October 12, 2001; with the Bowling Green State University Wind Ensemble on Saturday, October 20, 2001 and with the SUNY Fredonia Wind Ensmble on November 12, 2001. ************************************************************************* I wrote Millennium Fanfares for Shinik Hahm and the Daejon Philharmonic (South Korea). This 15:00 piece for full orchestra celebrates the third millennium, and will be performed by the Yale Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, November 10, 2001. I started and finished Tempus Fugit II, The Tercentennial Fanfare, on Tuesday, October 2, 2001. We premiered it at the convocation ceremony for Yale's Tercentennial on Friday October 5, and again that evening at the Gala Concert in the Yale Bowl. 2:00, it is written for full symphony orchestra. Here's what I am up to these days: I wrote a piece for the Connecticut Chapter of the American School Band Directors Association, entitled A Parisian in America. It was premiered on November 13, 2000, at the E. O. Smith High School in Storrs, CT. This piece is my answer to George Gershwin's American in Paris, and is the perfect opportunity for you to use those taxi horns again! It was performed on February 9, 2001, by the Yale Concert Band. You can see the program notes for this piece in my catalogue. Premiere: Three Places in New Haven: Concerto for Marimba, Percussion and Winds. University of Akron on February 20, 2001, Robert Jorgensen conducting. I have just returned from Akron where I heard the premiere of my newest piece, Three Places in New Haven for marimba, percussion soli, and wind ensemble (written for Robert Van Sice). He asked that I write something with band accompaniment that would involve the percussion section (as well as the percussion soloist) in some kind of concerto grosso-like piece. Cool idea! There are three movements, each based on some aspect of Charles Ives in New Haven: Castle in the Sky, The Long Wharf, and City Band March. This piece was premiered at the University of Akron on February 20, 2001, Robert Jorgensen conducting. The idea was that, in conjunction with performing this piece, Robert Van Sice will come to your school, play the piece as the soloist with your percussion section and band, and do a master class! I scored one of my band pieces for orchestra, Whispers of the Patriots. I wrote this piece for Walter Cronkite. It is a different kind of acknowledgement of Black History Month (February), in which falls the birthday of Abraham Lincoln. You can see the program notes for this piece in my catalogue. The orchestral version was premiered by the Meriden Symphony Orchestra on February 11, 2001.


Notes from 2000. The next project will be a composition for the United States Military Academy Band at West Point. Col. David Deitrich asked me to write a piece for the Bicentennial of the West Point Military Academy. I hope to have the music finished in time for premiere at the Academy on the 4th of July, 2001. I received an interesting note from my Ludwig Publishers, included in the mail with two copies of my most recently published piece, Max The King (its is based on Where the Wild Things Are, but I wasn't allowed to use that title). Ludwig's Melody Greene writes of Max the King: "We really like this one. Donnie in the production department came to me asking to hear this one. She said that it looked so weird that she had to hear it before she decided that she didn't like it!... She sat with me and listened to every minute of it and then said, "That's really good. I didn't think it would sound anything like that. Tell him I like it. OK." She really likes it. Recent premieres: A Parisian in America: ASBDA Honor Band, Novemeber 13, 2000, Thomas C. Duffy conducting. And Flights of Angels Sing Thee To Thy Rest for band and optional organ, was premiered at Yale University, Woolsey Hall, April 1, 2000, composer conducting the New England Intercollegiate Honor Band. I premiered my new piece, And Flights of Angels Sing Thee To Thy Rest in memoriam Stanley D. Hettinger at the Eastern Division Conference of the CBDNA and the New England College Band Association. Stan was a good friend; he was the Director of Bands at the University of New Hampshire for several decades. He died in 1997. The music uses an optional organ, and Yale's Woolsey Hall houses a huge organ! It went over well. I have to sign off now and get about composing!