Rolling Into 2018

New Year’s Eve is here once again, and I have just enough down time today to reflect on this past year.  Free time is a bit of a rarity for me recently!

A lot of positive things have come to fruition this year.  “Dreamcatcher” was released in July (you can hear it here, or purchase the 2-CD set here hint hint).  I’m very proud of the work and the recording, and now I’m itching to dive into another large scale work.  I can’t thank trombonist Haim Avitsur and conductor Ovidiu Marinescu enough for their efforts.

I’ve also heard the preliminary edits for “Woman A/Part,” due out next May on the newest Trio Casals CD.  The trio (Sylvia Ahramjian, violin; Ovidiu Marinescu, cello; and Anna Kislitsyna, piano) did yet another amazing job, and I’m incredibly pleased with the result.  I can’t share the artwork or title with you just yet – it hasn’t been officially announced – but the folks at Parma Recordings have done an outstanding job.  Look for the CD release in May, along with another concert in New York City.

I’m currently putting the finishing touches on a new work for the Vision of Sound New Music and Dance Festival, coming up in early April.  I’ve been partnered with choreographer Christina D’Amico, and I can’t wait to see what she does with the new piece!

On the performance end of things, I’m still playing with Samba Laranja.  As a matter of fact, we have been in the recording studio recently, working on yet another CD which should be released in 2018.  This is the fourth CD for this group.  I’m also still part of the Central New York Flute Choir, playing my wonderful contrabass flute.  The CNY Flute Choir held a workshop this year, as well as putting on several concerts, including the premiere of J.C. Dist, written by Jelle Hogenhuis (who made my contrabass flute), and which I transcribed and arranged.

I’m also continuing in my role with the Syracuse Opera, translating and projecting the supertitles, as well as jumping into a new role presenting the pre-show interviews with the stage and musical directors.  This is a great way for the audience to get a bit of insight into each opera before the curtain rises.

Things are still going strong at the radio station as well.  I’ve had some really fun interviews (including my chat with Anne Akiko Meyers, who was incredibly warm and charming).  Feminine Fusion is also doing well, and gaining more and more listeners every week.  It’s been over a year now, and I can’t wait to see what next year has in store.

And so, as we get ready to turn the calendar over once again to ring in the new year, I’ll take just a moment to thank everyone who has touched my life in 2017, and look toward a 2018 filled with music and joy.

Happy New Year, everyone!

 

MCAB3944

Marching in the Westcott Street Cultural Fair Parade with Samba Laranja

IMG_7509

Trio Casals rehearsing “Woman A/Part” before the New York premiere

Diane Jones and the Central New York Flute Choir

Performing with the Central New York Flute Choir

P1450020

Interview with Anne Akiko Meyers at WCNY

 

Advertisements

And the Calendar Takes Another Turn

I admit, I’ve been neglecting my blog.  It’s been an incredibly busy year, and I haven’t had a lot of time to reflect.  But it’s New Year’s Day, and I’m fighting the start of a cold, so it seems the perfect opportunity to take it easy and catch up on a few things.  Including the blog.

There has been a lot of music this year.  I’ve (finally) turned over the trombone concerto to Haim and Ovidiu.  It’s called “Dreamcatcher,” and although it is technically a single movement, it has three very distinct and different sections.  They’ll be travelling to Moscow in a couple of weeks to record most of the works for the upcoming CD, and I can’t wait to hear it.  I won’t be travelling with them, but I will be at the recording session via Skype, so it’ll definitely be a new experience for me!

Now that the score and parts are completed and handed over, I can admit that it was a daunting project for me!  This was my first foray into orchestral composition, and it was a little overwhelming at times.  But I did work my way through it, and I am very proud of the result.  I’m ready and eager to take on more large-scale works, so bring ’em on!

As for other works from this year, I already talked about “Elemental Suite” and “Woman A/Part” in a previous post.  I’m hoping to revisit “Woman A/Part” again this year, in order to expand it into something much more substantial.  I’m also in the midst of transcribing a work for Contrabass Flute with Flute Choir called “J.C. Dist” by Jelle Hogenhuis, who made my contrabass flute, as well as working on another flute choir work with a contrabass solo.  If all goes well, we’ll work on those for the spring concerts with the Central New York Flute Choir.

I’m also very excited that Trio Casals has included “Three Songs” into some of their programming, and have plans to include it on at least 2 more concerts.  You can hear it in Lewes, DE in March, and in Cazenovia, NY in July.  (Details on dates, times, and venues are all available at my website.)

I’m also in the early planning stages of a collaborative project that I’m very excited about.  We’re not ready to present any details about it yet, but I will absolutely keep you up to date as things progress.  

And what else has kept me so busy?  Well, working a 40 hour week at the radio station, of course.  After so many years of absolute freedom in dictating my own schedule, it’s been an adjustment.  But I love going to work every day, getting my hands deep into so much classical music, hearing new releases of new and old works.  I’ve also discovered that I really love doing interviews!  I’m bringing in folks almost every single week to talk about their work in the arts, and sometimes give us a short performance.  It is an absolute blast getting to chat with so many artists, both local and national!  And working on my weekly show, Feminine Fusion, has been absolutely incredible!  It’s going well, and getting very good responses from listeners.  And I’m learning so much about other women in the classical music world, and their achievements and struggles.  It’s giving me a whole new level of respect for those who have led the way in the arts community.

Let’s not forget performing, either.  I’m still a regular member of Samba Laranja, and the Central New York Flute Choir.  And, at the moment, I’m also filling in as second flute with the Onondaga Civic Symphony Orchestra, for their February concerts.  And I still translate and run the supertitle slides for the Syracuse Opera Company.  Add in the non-musical activities that I hope to do this year (dog agility, regular rides on my trike, cheering/heckling my husband during his cyclecross races, just to name a few) and it’s definitely going to be a busy 2017!

So, before I wrap up this entry, let me give you my sincere hope that your 2017 is filled with music and joy!  

Two Full Time Jobs?

Leaving the corporate world and entering college full-time to learn music composition at 40(-ish) years old was a huge lifestyle change.  And not an easy one.  I knew that working in the arts was not likely to be a highly profitable career move.  At the same time, I knew that music – both composing and performing – was my passion, and I felt compelled to pursue it to the best of my abilities.

That hasn’t been easy.  Part-way through my graduate degree, we had a significant setback in our household income (one of the risks of self-employment).  And when your income is cut in half, I’m sure you’ll understand the temptation to say, “Screw the music degree.  I’m going back to making money.”  Believe me, there was an awful lot of discussion and soul-searching in that challenging year.

At some point during that time, I saw an interview with Penn & Teller.  They – well, mostly Penn Jillette – talked about when they decided to truly make a go of their partnership.  They decided that, from that point on, they would not take any work outside their chosen field.  No unrelated “I’ll do this ‘until’ we start to make it” jobs.  That decision really resonated with me.  Working full-time as an administrator (or whatever) meant my musical ambitions would be at the mercy of the needs of my non-musical job.  So together, my husband and I decided to follow that example.  I would not take a job that was not musically-related, and we would make whatever sacrifices were necessary in order to allow me to pursue my music.

One of the most fun things to come out of that decision has been my role at WCNY-FM, the Classical Music station based here in Syracuse, NY.  For the better part of the last 6 years, I’ve been the “fill-in” host.  I always said I had perhaps the most fun job at the station.  I got to fill in at all hours of the day, weekdays and weekends, and learn how all the other hosts did their programming.  In some ways, it’s like a book editor – you get to know how the personality of each individual host by the idiosyncrasies of their programming.  During that time, I also did a lot of the weekend programming and hosting, which allowed me to explore and share my own sensibilities with our listeners.  Not to mention, I had plenty of flexibility, which allowed me to continue to compose and perform.

Well, starting August 26th, that’s going to change a bit!  Long-time mid-day host Bill Baker has decided to retire.  I’m terribly sad to see him go, as he has been a fixture at WCNY in both Radio and TV for many years.  BUT . . . I have been asked to step in as the new mid-day host!  I can’t wait to share my programming with a wider audience, not to mention the opportunity to bring you the Concert Hall (sharing those hosting duties with Bruce Paulsen), and some incredible interviews with the Live at Noon Series (including Matt Haimovitz, the Neave Trio, and Jeffrey Siegel, for starters!)

I must say, though, that before I said “YES!” to this exciting opportunity (and I promise you, it was a big, enthusiastic “YES!”) I took the time to think it through very carefully.  As much fun as it is to work at the station, I am, first and foremost, a full-time composer.  Part-time fill-in work is easy and fun – jump in, chat on the air, and zip home.  The responsibilities of a full-time position require more effort, for sure.  I had to think about what I am willing to give up, or not, to do this job.

First and foremost, I cannot give up composing.  That, more than anything, is the second greatest joy in my life (outside of my family).  Nor will I give up performing.  Working with Samba Laranja and the Central New York Flute Choir is waaaaaay too much fun to set aside, not to mention the individual and small group performance opportunities that continue to come my way.  On the other hand, being a host on WCNY-FM gives me the opportunity to immerse myself in an exceptional catalog of classical music every single day, including the newest releases hot off the presses.  Having access to such an incredible array of music, plus the opportunities to meet and converse with outstanding musicians and other professionals in the classical world?  As the commercial says:  PRICELESS!

That’s not to say there won’t be a bit of an adjustment period!  I don’t think I’ll be staying up until 6 or 7 am to work on the newest piece anymore.  (Unless you want to hear me snoring on the air!)  But I am confident that I’ll be able to balance both hosting and composing duties, and still have time to attend some concerts, or for the occasional trip to wine country, or just for some quality time with Dear Hubby and Benson the Dog.

So do me a favor.  Watch my Pet Dragon Music website for monthly updates on my compositional activities (and remember, you can listen to my works and purchase the scores from there as well).  Give me a “Like” on Facebook for more frequent updates on my various activities.  And if you like classical music trivia, follow me on Twitter – I’ll be sending out a daily tweet with an interesting tidbit about the music I’m playing on the radio!

Three Songs Re-launch

I love September.  In many ways, it feels like a re-birth to me.  Rehearsals start up again for Samba Laranja and the CNY Flute Choir.  The concert season begins in earnest for most music and arts organizations.  Days are breezy, nights are wonderfully cool, leaves are showing the first signs of turning.  It’s as though everyone and everything is pausing just enough to catch a deep breath.

Sure, August ended on a low note.  But I took my own deep breath last weekend, and now I feel re-energized and ready to push ahead once more.

That’s why I’ve launched another campaign to raise funds for my Three Songs, this time on Indiegogo.  Once again, I’m starting from scratch, but I am much more confident this time around.  I’ve learned a lot, and I expect I’ll be better able to spread the word to not only the folks who tried to back me the last time (and hopefully will renew that backing!), but to an even broader audience. 

I’ve said it before, and it’s not news – making new music available to a broad audience takes resources – monetary resources.  Recording, publishing, performers and performance spaces, publicity – all of this comes at a cost.  No matter how frugal I am, it won’t happen for free, especially considering this is much more than a simple CD release.  The enhanced CD includes extra digital content (scores, liner notes, interviews), and the whole process culminates in two live performances, one in New York and the other in Philadelphia.  Believe me, every single dollar is being stretched to its limit!

As for the actually fundraising, this time around I’m concentrating even more on sharing my music with you.  I’ve added several music videos to my Vimeo page for you.  And I’ve given you a little more insight into the inspiration behind the Three Songs in my Indiegogo video, in the hopes it will inspire you to fund these Three Songs

I’ll also be giving you more blog and Facebook entries, and I would love to hear from you with any questions or thoughts you may have.  The smallest funding level is just $1, which means our conversation can start with, “Thank you so much for your support!”

What Are You Listening To?

You would think that, as a composer, I’d have music on almost constantly.  For me, the opposite is true.  I keep the radio turned on overnight, and as I get up in the mornings, but other than that, there’s not a lot of music playing.

There are a couple of reasons for this.  First, I don’t want to unconsciously incorporate something I’ve just heard into whatever piece I’m working on.  And second, I’m a little afraid that what I’m hearing from my speakers might derail what I’m hearing in my head.  (Yeah, I’m pretty good a rationalizing.)

Of course, there’s no reason I can think of that I’d have some random music playing while I’m actively working on a piece of my own.  That makes the second reason a bit ridiculous.  And as for incorporating something I’ve heard, well, I composed Paroxysm long before I had heard Jennifer Higdon’s Steeley Pause.  If you didn’t know that, though, you’d certainly think otherwise.  Reason number 1 just went out the window.

So I’ve set aside one afternoon a week to listen.  Not just to have the radio or CD player on, but to choose particular works/artists/CDs to really listen to, with care and attention.  Not necessarily because I need to study particular works for any reason, but because this is what has caught my attention.  Between CDs and LPs, I have a big collection already to choose from, and Julie Amacher’s podcast constantly gives me new recordings to add to my wish list.

This week I’m listening to some piano and cello duos:

Shuffle.Play.Listen (Christopher O’Riley and Matt Haimovitz)
20/21 (Blair McMillen and Robert Burkhart)

and Short Trip Home, with Joshua Bell, Edgar Meyer, Sam Bush and Mike Marshall.

What’s on your listening list?