I'm down in Coffeyville Kansas this week performing in their Humanities series. It's my second time here--I did this back in 2014. I have a wonderful time here facing the audience. This year, I am doing some of my own songs along with iconic pieces by Jimmy Webb and Elton John. I didn't notice this the last time, but the students at the Coffeyville Community College have a fun sculpture garden.
Saturday, April 15, 2017
I love the signs all over Amarillo, put up with the sponsorship of Stanley Marsh. Every time I go there, I run across new ones. I have been known to drive through random parts of the city looking for them. There are clearly many more around, based on this photo set, for example. These are from 2014.
A few here from my 2017 visit.
Sunday, April 2, 2017
Monday, February 20, 2017
This weekend, SPEED DATING TONIGHT! plays at West Texas A&M University in a production directed by Suzanne Ramo. The production features two faculty members, Lyndi Williams Krause and Christopher Meerdink in guest appearances.
Monday, February 13, 2017
Thanks to my old friend and colleague Allison Charney for commissioning my ARRANGEMENTS AND DERANGEMENTS OF SCHUBERT for her group, the Ark Trio of soprano, cello, and piano. The premiere is tomorrow in New York.
The Schubert songs in the set are Nacht und traüme, Sei mir gegrüsst! Die manner sind mechant, Die forelle, and Rastlose liebe.
Here's my composer note from the score:
Franz Schubert's songs are so perfect that they are hard to adapt without feeling like you might be defacing them. So there are two impulses at work: 1) a very careful, respectful, almost reverential arrangement and 2) an aggressive reinterpretation or commentary which I've called "derangement" which is a jumble of de-arrange, deranged, and French déranger (disrupt, disturb).
The arrangements of three of the songs are clear. Create a cello line that meshes with the intent of the song and enhances it. Create a cello line that is fun to play and has melodic integrity.
The derangement of "Sei mir gegrüsst" reflects a 21st century view of the text. What may have seemed Romantic in Schubert's time, seems to me obsessive and even deluded. The cello plays Schubert's melody and the voice reinterprets Rückert's text. It is almost as if the singer is conjuring the words from hearing the song played by the cello.
As for "Die forelle," even Schubert in his own Trout Quintet, sticks to the jolly trout swimming in the brook. The English speaking audience glosses over the information that the trout is caught and dies. The structure of the original song reinforces that--it goes back to the swimmy, brooky music at the end. In this derangement, I've loosely translated the text and forced us to deal with the fish's demise. Like it or not, humankind can admire a creature's beauty and then turn around and catch it, shoot it, kill it, photograph it, and now post it on social media.
Allison Charney had patiently waited for me to do something with Schubert's songs for the ARK Trio (voice, cello, and piano). Finally, she did the best thing, scheduled a concert which imposed a deadline. I'm grateful to her for waiting me out and grateful for the opportunity to interact with these great songs. The delay was only because I wanted to have my arrangement-cake and then eat it too--derangement!
Hopefully Schubert is laughing, nodding, or humming along. And even if he's not, why should the regietheater directors have all the fun?
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
It was a pleasure to go to Syracuse University to help them get going on their production on January 27 and 28 with works by Tom Cipullo and Steven Serpa. Soon after that will be productions at Emerald City Opera in Colorado and Gulfshore Opera in Florida.
Thursday, December 22, 2016
Artistic Director of Emerald City Opera, Andres Cladera has been very loyal to SPEED DATING TONIGHT! He was involved in the production at Microscopic Opera in Pittsburgh which commissioned and premiered the first orchestrations back in 2014. Last season Emerald City Opera did a production of SPEED DATING TONIGHT! and this season they've commissioned some new dates for their 2017 production.
There were specific instructions to include cannabis and skiing. I've also included a food truck owner, a hiker, a UFO believer, a furry, and a duet for people two people of faith. The opera now has over forty dates to choose from. Using all forty will make for a full evening.
Friday, November 18, 2016
Sunday, November 6, 2016
Photos by Bill Byrd
Last night we closed a three performance run of SPEED DATING TONIGHT! at Amarillo Opera. It was the second time we have done it there--the first being back in 2013. The production had six new pieces--"Carrie," "Do you like kids?" "Nosy Parent," "Bar Bugs," "Break in the Action" and a trio called "You have lovely eyes." We now have two opportunities for older singers with "Nosy Parent" and a club owner who can sing "I've always liked this bar" and/or "Break in the action."
The production also included a group of about half a dozen musical theater students from West Texas A&M so it had a different vocal color at times, which worked great.