15 December 2020
Starting in January 2021, I will no longer be working as a church organist. It was not easy to decide to leave the work (and the extra income), but I feel sure it is the right decision. I have a number of personal goals as a composer that I want to reach, and with every passing year it becomes more and more clear to me that I am not putting in the necessary work to achieve those goals. It's also clear to me, no matter how much I practise, I will never be more than a third-rate organist. I want to channel the time and effort I spend at playing the organ into more time composing. With enough effort, I feel I have a shot (to paraphrase Richard Strauss) to become a first class, second rate composer! So will 2021 finally be the year I finish my symphony?!? I hope so--I'm running out of excuses!
11 February 2020
My, it's been a while since my last update. What has happened? Let's see. I had a concert on 9 November 2019. I played revisions of three of my piano preludes, and Michel Allard played an arrangement of the overture to my one act opera, Bright, Deardeer, and Kit. My next concert will be 2 May 2020 with details (as they become available) here. Also, there may or may not be something new on my 'question mark' page.
2 March 2019
I am now posting audio of complete pieces here
23 February 2019
I have a concert Saturday, 4 May at 4:00 PM at Zion Lutheran Church, 202 Erie Street in Stratford. This is the first concert of the eleventh season of MMMM Composers in Concert. I hope to have something new for this one.
22 November 2018
Two new updates in one month?? Unheard of! Absurd!!
I have a concert this Saturday, 24 November, at 4:30 PM at Zion Lutheran Church, 202 Erie Street in Stratford. This concert marks the end of our 10th anniversary of MMMM Composers in Concert concerts. It should be a good one--we've a guest composer, Wendy Edwards Beardall; guest performers Mike Ryan, Henry Newediuk, and Christopher Norton. Actually, come to think of it, we have two guest composers, since I am playing what might be a Canadian premiere of a short character piece by Anton Bruckner. Why Bruckner? It's a nod to our 2016 season of 'New and Used' music in which we explored 'used' music that had some significance to us, and, well, I for one, like Bruckner!
If you are a choir director looking for a last minute addition to your Christmas programme, then you've stumbled upon the perfect place! I have two new choral works that might fit the bill. One is sort of secular, and the other is sort of less secular. The less secular one is a setting of 'Long, Long Ago' (author unknown), for SATB choir and orchestra. The more secular one, 'A Christmas Card' is for SATB choir and brass quintet with optional organ. This one is a 6 voice canon at the unison/octave. I'll be the first to admit that by the time the 6th voice enters, the voice leading gets a little dodgy, but I think the results are worth it! The six voices are distributed among the choir and brass, so there are no divided vocal parts. Have a look at the score samples in my catalogue under the heading 'Choral/Vocal'. If you wish to peruse any piece in its entirety, contact me.
Time for an overdue update. Well, nothing much has happened on the music front, but I am having a concert on May 5th at 4PM at Zion Lutheran Church, 202 Erie Street in Stratford along with colleagues Michel Allard and Michael Dobinson, details here. I don't actually have anything new of my own for this one, though I have revised a few of my piano preludes, so I might play those, if I get around to practicing. These days, when I'm not painting, playing the organ, or being idle, I am working on my symphony. How's that going? I'm glad you asked. I have a significant portion of the second movement sketched out; the first movement is more or less in the same condition as my last update, though I have very definite plans for some reshaping. My concept of the rest of the piece continues to evolve.
My goodness, but it has been a while since I've updated this page. So what's new? I had a concert of new music last spring, which I neglected to announce here, and I'm having another concert this coming Saturday, November 4th at 4PM at Zion Lutheran Church, 202 Erie Street in Stratford along with colleagues Michel Allard and Michael Dobinson, details here.
You might be wondering how my symphony is going (or not). I'll tell you anyway. I have a continuous sketch of the first movement with many details yet to fill in. I have a rough concept of the rest of the piece. It is an interesting journey, taking me places I wasn't expecting. Maybe I'll write about this experience sometime.
Time for another update. I've decided I had better get busy and write a symphony. I actually started one about twenty years ago, but other things had to get done, or so I thought. At least it seemed a good excuse for not working on it...however, now I'm beginning to realize that if I put it off any longer, it will never happen. One might ask, so what? Well, I really don't have a good answer for that, except that if I finish this piece, I will feel like I have accomplished something important to me. Anyhow, I announce it here, so that if anyone is actually reading this, they will be able to hold me to it. So: will this symphony-writing interfere with my upcoming composers' concert? Most likely!!
It's springtime, and as promised, time for an update. I won't tell you I've had a busy winter painting houses and offices (but I have, and I did). That's really not news, so I won't be sharing anymore of that! So, what's up? Well, I've decided to start adding more content to my website. You will now find audio and score samples and other assorted tidbits. What else? I will be presenting a concert on April 23 with the usual suspects, details here. The theme is 'New and Used' music, and although I haven't decided yet what I'm going to play, there will probably be new and used music, with the 'used' comprising both music I've written before as well as music by, oh, I don't know, maybe Schoenberg, perhaps even Scriabin...Mahler, maybe? Whatever the case, I'd better get busy!
My, it's been a while since I last updated. I've had a busy summer painting houses and offices which keeps food on the table. Hmmm...that sounds familiar. So, what's been happening on the music end of things? Not much. Seems appropriate that crickets are chirping outside my window as I write this. It's true, I haven't spent as much time on promotion as I should, but I'm over a thousand bars into the orchestration of my opera, so that's something. I have a composers' concert coming up in November, but haven't written anything new for that yet. Will I? Probably. After I've stemmed the rust on my car, and have caught up on weather-dependent work. Watch for another riveting update next spring!
My, it's been a while since I last updated. I've had a busy winter painting houses and offices which keeps food on the table. Hmmm...that sounds familiar. Well, a busy winter painting is some measure of success in that industry. At least the Canada Revenue Agency seems to think I'm a bigger success than I think I am. So, what's new? Well, my next composers' concert is coming up on June 6th, details here. I have one new piece on that programme, a setting for treble voice choir of Gaius Valerius Catullus' Carmen CI (that's 'poem 101' for those of you who don't know, or don't feel like looking it up). I guess I could have just said 'poem 101', but I'm a snob. You wouldn't think so, if you saw the kind of coffee and beer I sometimes drink. Oh sure, I like and appreciate fine quality, but I also appreciate what I like to call 'utility' coffee and beer. But that sounds like a discussion for another day, perhaps.
My, it's been a while since I've updated. I've had a busy summer painting houses and offices which keeps food on the table. Still, I managed to write a bunch of new piano preludes which I premiered at concerts in May, and most recently in November. Details can be found here. I am now at work on a piece for the choir She Sings, which, if all goes well, will be premiered in Stratford on June 6th.
My latest choral composition, "Cold", was shortlisted in the University of St Andrews New Music Ensemble and Choristi Sanctiandree 2014 International Call for Scores for their event, "Paul Mealor Composer Focus Concert and Workshop". I'm very happy to say that Paul Mealor awarded my piece a commendation! The overall winner was Stuart Murray; composers selected for the workshop were Tim Miller, John Hosking, Joanna Gill, and Bernard Hughes. Other composers awarded a commendation were Alwin Schronen, Ross Clarke, and Steven Griffin.
I've finally finished revisions to my one act opera, "Bright, Deardeer, and Kit". I'm now slogging away at editing the piano/vocal score. It's not exactly Wagnerian in scope, but at over 2000 bars of continuous music...well, it's a chore. I'm excited about re-orchestrating it, and have decided not to compromise: After having started a few "practical" chamber versions, I've decided to go big. The piano version will do for a shoe-string production, if I can ever make that happen.
Looking ahead, my next concert along with my MMMMcomposers in concert colleagues will be on 24 May. Details here. In keeping with the theme "Keys", I'm working on some new piano preludes, an ongoing project that I've been picking away at fitfully for the last 20 years or so (yes, that's right). The plan is to write a set of 24 preludes demonstrating my abuse of the 24 major and minor keys. It's been a kind of compositional laboratory for me, and an interesting journey. I'm not sure what the destination is, or if I'll ever get there, but I'm enjoying it. For fun, I have chosen a sequence of keys unlike those of Bach or Chopin (or Scriabin, for that matter). I call them the hemispheres of reflected fifths. I'm sure there is some technical term for it, but I don't know it, and I'd probably like my name for it better.
Following the thrilling experience of hearing the Toronto Symphony read through "High Strung" under the baton of Gary Kulesha, I set myself the task of copying parts for all of my large ensemble pieces. A prudent move, I think. I'd hate to be caught with my pants down if anybody actually wanted to perform one of them!!
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra selected my piece "High Strung" (A.K.A. "Music for String Orchestra") along with two other Canadian compositions to read during rehearsal on 1 November. Woohoo!!
On 16 November I presented new works at the "MMMMComposers in Concert" concert. Details here.
On 21 July I was at Forest Hill, Ontario for the launch of the Canadian National Conservatory of Music's latest repertoire album, "Northern Lights Grade 8B Musical Discoveries". This volume includes my piano piece "One April Evening" (A.K.A. "Prelude in a"), which I played at the event.
On 4 May I presented a mix of new, and newly revised older, but still fairly new music. The programme included "Prelude and Fugue for piano four hands", with the extra two hands provided by Michel Allard. Soprano Barb Redden performed the definitive version of the song cycle "The Fool" and a brand new song called "In Cinderella's Dreams", with me at the piano. All the songs are to poems by Jen Frankel.
The Canadian National Conservatory of Music will publish another piano piece by me in their upcoming "Northern Lights Grade 8B Musical Discoveries" repertoire album.
On 3 November, my colleagues in "MMMMconcerts" and I presented another successful concert.