Friday, March 31, 2006

City of Brotherly Love

Greetings from lovely Philadelphia, PA! It's a beautiful day and I have a little time before rehearsal this afternoon... so I can catch up on some news:

Since my last post about the bad day in rehearsal with Ben, I've been playing quite a bit, and things are going very nicely thank you very much. I think the allergy medicine really does make my brain foggy - so I've been trying to take as little as possible.

A few weeks ago, I performed with Jane Franklin Dance in a short performance that was part of their gala evening, held at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, VA. The school is really something... it's a high-end boarding school with a large and gorgeous campus. The arts center was very nicely outfitted, including some big name artwork on the wall, such as two Picasso limited edition prints, a Renoir lithograph, and a signed and numbered Miro. Quite a far cry from a public high school! Anyway, the show went well. They've added a new section to this suite of pieces including poetry that we've been working on for a few months. We had very little rehearsal time, so I had to make something up on the spot and there was little room for making revisions. I think that actually helped - I had the freedom to do whatever I thought worked best and didn't have to answer to anyone ;-)

I've also been hard at work rehearsing with Daniel Burkholder. Our new duo piece, "unmapped," will be performed in April (see upcoming events sidebar for details). Then we're gearing up for the full version in July during Fringe. This piece attempts to blur the line between the musician and dancer on stage. My guitar is hooked up to a wireless gizmo so I have to be out on stage moving with Daniel, and we can pass the guitar back and forth and toss it around, etc. (all while actually playing the music for the piece live). The two of us are also developing a new piece for Cross Currents - we've been commissioned as part of their 10th anniversary season. The plan was to use this commission as an opportunity to develop material for our own duo piece, but it doesn't seem to be working out that way.

Today (and through the rest of this weekend) I'm in Philadelphia for "Sound Exchange." Tonight is the first concert of the project - a concert by Pauline Oliveros and the Deep Listening Band. The second half of the concert features the Deep Listening Band along with the full group of Sound Exchange participants (a large group of improvising musicians, mostly from Philly). We had one rehearsal yesterday, and another one later this afternoon. It's been quite remarkable: there were a few rehearsals without Pauline and company, and the results were much different that what we played yesterday. Pauline, David Gamper, and Stuart Dempster really lead by example. We're all quite free to improvise - there has been very little structure imposed so far, but their playing (and mindful listening) really sets the tone. Yesterday's rehearsal sounded quite nice - with all members of the group showing quite a bit of restraint.

Coming up on Sunday, there is another concert - featuring new works by the four "composer participants." I'm one of them. My piece is built around excerpts from a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. That came about in a serendipitous manner... our first meeting for "orientation" was on Martin Luther King Day in February. While I was driving up to Philly, I heard a fascinating radio program (on WPFW) exploring Dr. King's decision to speak out against the war in Vietnam, and examining how his remarks were received in the media. That night, after playing with the group most of the day, I was thinking of what to write and it seemed to make sense to include this material. The end result is an arrangement of King's "Beyond Vietnam" speech with instrumental accompaniment. Cameron is coming up to Philly to perform with us - she'll be reading the text. If you're curious, you can have a look at the score here (pdf).

The DC Improvisers Collective is also hard at work - we're preparing for a recording session in the beginning of June. We'll also be performing on May 15th in DC... details coming soon.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A kick in the 'nads of my confidence

Ok, so in the post below this one, I said how I was going to play with Ben and then podcast something? Well, I'm not going to. I played with Ben on Saturday and I kind of sucked real bad. I'm going to blame it on the allergy medicine. I guess this happens sometimes? We did some improvising and I had no ideas. Or only bad ideas. That sounded bad. Listening back to the tape, I felt like I was listening to old recordings of me playing when I was fifteen (and those are bad. very bad). Hopefully the recording we made (on Ben's four track cassette because I forgot to bring the power supply for my laptop) will never enter the digital domain or be heard by anyone ever again.

This week I have not one, but three rehearsals with Daniel Burkholder, plus Sound Exchange rehearsal in Philly tomorrow, and then rehearsal & gig with Jane Franklin Dance on Saturday, so I guess I'm climbing right back on that metaphorical horse and hopefully things will improve. Actually, I'm sure they will... had one rehearsal with Daniel yesterday and that was ok. But, ouch. Sorry Ben - will do better next time.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Sound Exchange in the news

The Philadelphia City Paper has a cover story this week about the Sound Exchange program / workshop that I'm participating in. Click here for the article. I'll be heading up to Philly this coming Thursday for a rehearsal with the group - hopefully we'll have a chance to work through a few sections of my piece (which is still "under construction").

Tomorrow, I'll be doing some rehearsing / recording with drummer, Ben Azzara. Assuming we don't run into technical problems (like forgetting to press the record button, which I've been known to do) I'll probably podcast something in a few days...

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Misc. Update

I have a Performance this coming Saturday with Jane Franklin Dance, the same suite of short dances with poems that we performed at Iota a few weeks ago, this time at Arlington Arts Center. I'’ve got to set aside some home-studio time to build a recorded version so they can do the piece without me.

"“Sport Utility Vehicle" will be released on a compilation / audio '‘zine thanks to Sean Peoples and his Sockets CDR label. There'’s a release party on Sunday at Warehouse Next Door.– We'’re not performing at that, but you can pick up a copy at a discount during the show…

Cameron and I will also be presenting the world premiere performance of "Sport Utility Vehicle"” as part of a Baltimore Composers Forum concert, April 30, 3pm, at An Die Musik in Baltimore.

I was just hired by Cross Currents dance company to create original music for a piece that Daniel Burkholder is choreographing for them. Actually, it'’s a chance for us to work out some of the material that will be used in our upcoming duo piece, "“unmapped."” The Cross Currents show will be staged May 13 and 14 at Dance Place. Daniel and I will be showing our first version of the duo piece as part of "“The Pangea Project" at H Street Playhouse, April 14 -– 16.

Daniel and I are just starting our rehearsal process for the duo project. After the shows at H Street Playhouse, we'll be preparing for the real "“world premiere"” during the Capital Fringe Festival. Exact date(s) and venue will be announced soon. We'’re going to perform the piece, which will be a 40 minute structured improvisation, every hour for 24 hours straight. It'’s gonna be nuts.

I'’m still hard at work on my piece for "“Sound Exchange"” in Philadelphia. The project is a workshop for improvising musicians, led by Pauline Oliveros and members of her Deep Listening Band. The piece will be premiered in Philadelphia at the Trinity Center for Urban Life on Sunday, April 2nd at 4pm. The piece is a large-scale work, built around excerpts of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "“Beyond Vietnam" speech. I'’ll be in Philadelphia from March 30 -– April 2 for the workshop and concerts.

I just fired off a grant proposal to Chamber Music America, for their "“New Works: Creation and Presentation Program," which funds the commissioning of pieces for composer-led jazz ensembles. I hope to continue developing the Sound Exchange piece, as an evening length piece for DC Improvisers Collective. Keep your fingers crossed!

I'm heading to Austin, Texas in April (6th to 11th) and while I'’m there, I'’m planning on doing some recording with Graham Reynolds. Hopefully I'll have some material to share afterwards… I haven't seen Graham in a while, and I have no idea what might happen!

We're still making arrangements for the DC Improvisers Collective recording sessions, looks like it will be in late May, or early June. Hopefully our second full-length CD will be available shortly thereafter. As part of our preparations for the recording session, we hope to schedule two live shows before then… dates and venues coming soon.