The Stuff You Do Outside of Class
Hey all, welcome to the 2nd newsletter! Lots to fill you in on.
So, I’m slowly starting to figure this out: life at CalArts, and being ‘successful’ here, does not have much to do with classes, homework, or academia. All of that is, of course, provided and stimulating, but there is not a huge focus on homework, assignments, studying, etc. – instead, it is all about the stuff you do outside of class: the people you meet, the projects started, concerts to put on, big ideas to think of. Maybe that is more of a preparation for life after CalArts – for life as a composer/artist – than doing endless essays and tests. I suppose the answer to that is that it takes a balance. And right now, this environment is what I need to balance out all the (equally interesting and helpful) academic stuff I’d been focused on in undergrad. That being said, it sure is different.
In this odd world of minimal academic pressure and maximal (maximum?) creative pressure, I have been spurred on to create, participate in, and take on project after project, staying as busy and on as crazy a sleep/work schedule as I’ve been used to (I’ve also somehow ended up with two part-time jobs, one as a T.A. for Tonal Skills, and another as a tutor at the Writing Center here. Lucky to have them – but WHEW). We’ll see if I can handle it all (ha ha). Here’s what I’ve gotten started this month:
1. I’m putting on a concert of two new pieces on Nov. 8th (Saturday) at 2PM, at CalArts. (If you’re in L.A. area, come!). Being played, for the first time, will be the piece I wrote for my honors thesis in music at Colby – In Search of Murmurings, for piano, violin, and alto saxophone (with conductor). This is a 35min piece that explores involuntary memory in relation to music (and inspired by Proust’s novel Swann’s Way). It will likely be performed and conducted by CalArts undergrad and graduate students, all unbelievable musicians. The second piece, being composed now, is for a solo electric bass player and live electronics (me). As long as I don’t screw stuff up too much, I think this piece is going to be really cool. It will run 25-30mins. The concert is being recorded and broadcast live as well. More info to come regarding those details next month.
2. The New Century Players Ensemble at CalArts will be performing a new Octet I wrote/am writing, called Gentle Loosening. It is for flute, clarinet, horn, electric guitar, cello, and double bass – and two people hammering nails into a block of wood. Oh, and the conductor sits center stage and flips through a newspaper upside down for the duration of the piece. ...sound interesting?
3. Movements in Unknown Space, for solo cello – a short piece I just recently composed and have had performed and recorded. I am really happy with how this one turned out. I’m just waiting for the recording to be sent to me...... When it is, I’ll let you all know so you all can listen.
4. Limping on Mirrors, for 16 voice SATB choir – a new choir piece I wrote, rehearsals for this (8-10min) piece begin next Thursday with the Contemporary Vocal Ensemble here at CalArts. I used the text from one of my (very Beckett inspired) poems and all kinds of weird/cool vocal techniques with this one. I believe this will be performed and recorded at some point this semester.
5. While Painting the Deck, for string quartet – this is the tarp/paint piece I composed over the summer...but now a string quartet will interpret and perform my funky graphic score! Really excited to hear this one. Rehearsals for this start next week.
6. Weekly coding/programming pieces using ChucK have been happening. These kind of stink, but then again I have no idea how to code... Learning slowly. (Side note: there are lots of computer whizzes in the music tech program here. Very scary(cool?), especially when they’re in my class.)
7. Weekly 1-2min dance collaborations: these are great, and part of one of my workshop classes. I’ll put some links at the bottom to my soundcloud, which has these snippet-like pieces.
8. I edited/remixed a Nine Inch Nails song clip for a choreographer to use in his upcoming dance piece, which will be performed at the end of the semester. SoundCloud won't take it because of, erm, copyright issues, but I promise it sounds cool.
9. Also, very exciting, collaborating with another composer on a 3 movement large ensemble piece that involves the audience painting a 20x40ft plywood score, some crazy electronics, film editing....... More to come on that front later. Concert tentatively planned for the spring.
So: lots of balls in the air. Now time to focus on hitting them one at a time. In other news, California continues to be great – and hot. 100 degrees today. Yup, in October.
Thanks for reading, and feel free to pass this on to others, or suggest people to add to the newsletter list.
Until next time,