Thursday, December 20, 2007

More good news on the grants front

This month has been a good one for me... I just found out that the Argosy Foundation Contemporary Music Fund has awarded a generous grant to the Low End String Quartet to commission new music (from me). The kind folks at Argosy also funded a proposal from the American Composers Forum (one of my day-jobs) to launch a new small-grants program for local composers. There's nothing else like that in the area, so it will make a big difference, I think. But wait, that's not all! They also funded a proposal from Step Afrika to continue working with me. Exciting stuff. Looks like I get to start 2008 as a nearly full-time composer. Woo hoo!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Two "yes"es

Finally some good news on the grants front. I've written quite a stack of proposals this year and I've been batting exactly zero -- until now.

Back in October, I submitted two proposals for the "Small Projects Program" of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. One for DCIC (to hire a publicist to help with the release of our new CD) and one for the Low End String Quartet (to help pay for studio time to make a nice recording). I just found out a few days ago that we got both.

I've still got one more proposal pending for the Low End Quartet, keep your fingers crossed and let's hope the Argosy Contemporary Music Fund finds our work irresistible.


For the last couple of weeks, I've been working pretty much full time for Step Afrika. We started collaborating over a year ago, on a multi-media piece called "Nxt/Step." Slowly things have evolved and we've got a version of the piece now that's fairly stable. Earlier performances were marred by technical problems (mostly with the interactive video cues), but we're getting a handle on it.

We worked intensely for about two weeks, culminating in three performances in an unfortunately named show, "Winter Heat." This was a mixed dance program featuring three african-american dance companies from DC: Step Afrika, Washington Reflections, and Coyoba Dance Theater; presented by WPAS and Dance Place, held at the Lansburgh Theater (a.k.a the Shakespeare Theatre, but now they have two venues so it has a different name).

After those performances wrapped up, we flew to New Orleans for the National Performance Network conference, where we have a showcase performance coming up on Saturday. We've been in New Orleans for two days now, and it's been kinda crazy. We had our tech time last night and it was, um, not so good. It seems to me like the showcase performances are beyond the means of the venue and it's production staff, but we'll see how things work out. I guess we're spoiled, having done the piece at two large theaters with union crew. This one's going to be a little rougher around the edges - which is too bad since the audience will be performing arts presenters from around the country. We'll just have to wow 'em even if the lights, sound, and video aren't implemented quite right.

First impressions of New Orleans: (second impression? I was here for a couple of days a few years ago) It's beautiful, and the "vibe" is quite unlike any other American city I've been to. It feels much more European, with people sitting at coffee shops, sidwalk cafes, and generally being more laid back than us East Coasters. I guess they don't call it the Big Easy for nothing. Also seems to be more interest in going out at night? Not just the tourist trap places in the French Quarter; it seems like there are restaurants and bars everywhere, so people must be out and about much more than in DC (which has plenty of restaurants and bars, but people seem much more focused on work than socializing).

So far it doesn't seem like New Orleans is a veg-friendly city. Since I'm here for a week and have to live on the cheap (but in a plush hotel, life is tough) I took a bus to Whole Foods and stocked up on all sorts of stuff. I asked the hotel for a fridge and they brought me one, so I think I'll be ok nutrition-wise. Last night I found a cool (and cheap) hybrid Thai / Vietnamese restaurant not too far from the hotel: Hipstix. They didn't have loads of veggie options, but easy to get tofu instead of chicken, beef, or seafood on the noodle dishes. The "Siam Street Noodles with Tofu" were delicious, so maybe I'll head over there again during the next few days. Dinner with the company tonight was at a touristy place in the French Quarter - only vegan option was a salad (iceberg lettuce and one slice of tomato) and french fries. My carnivorous companions didn't seem to fare so well either - everything in the place (other than red beans and rice or jambalya) was deep fried. The steppers must burn through a million calories a day, so I guess they can eat that stuff? Before I left home, Cameron helped me look up a yoga studio that does Bikram, so I'm going to try to squeeze in a class tomorrow. I just have to figure out the bus routes to get there...