A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, opera a cappella now available at Albany Records

Thursday, December 22, 2016

New dates for SPEED DATING TONIGHT! at Emerald City Opera in 2017

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

Hold On - Performed by Clare Gormley and Kevin Murphey

Clare commissioned this spiritual arrangement for her album. Where are you Clare?

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Speed Dating Tonight! for the second time at Amarillo Opera

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.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Speed Dating Tonight! at UNC-Greensboro

Here's a nice little review from the student newspaper at UNC-Greensboro from their recent production of SPEED DATING TONIGHT!.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Letter about style from Iain Hamilton, 1978

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm trying to clear out my archives. Scan it, digitize it if it's interesting, and usually throw it out. Every now and then something pops up that is worth looking at, listening to, and cherishing.

I found a letter from 1978 from my first composition teacher at Duke, Iain Hamilton. He had resigned his position to focus on composition. Until Duke figured out what to do about a composition teacher (eventually they hired Robert Ward, for which I am eternally grateful),  I went over to take composition at the North Carolina School for the Arts and one of the teachers there I found nettlesome because of his modernistic, atonal approach to composition. Back in those days, writing in that style was more de rigeur than it is now, thank goodness. I love rereading his words:

"Indeed never allow any style to be forced on you. We must attend to technical skills especially those of the great periods of counterpoint in the 16th and 18th centuries but those essential disciplines are something different from being channeled into a particular style in our own time--that is something we must discover for ourselves and I have often said whatever one writes it will be new and fresh if one has originality within oneself."

In opera, I've always found style to be a situational device, to be influenced by the story line and characters. Shows like SPEED DATING TONIGHT! deliberately juxtapose a variety of styles to match the variety of daters. Other operas like my recent ALICE RYLEY, CORPS OF DISCOVERY, or SLAYING THE DRAGON deal with cultural clashes that are depicted through musical styles.

Dr. Hamilton was a shy, formal man with a twinkle of humor. I always remember him letting me into his office for a lesson and then scurrying behind his desk to look at my weekly scribblings. A catchphrase I remember was "There's nothing you can't learn from ____" (Mahler, Bach, Mozart). His operatic work was not done all over the US, but there was a production of his ANNA KARENINA at the Los Angeles Opera. Here's the last page from the piano vocal score in his tight, efficient calligraphy.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Albuquerque Speed Dating Tonight!

Shea Perry and Ian Johnson star in “Speed Dating Tonight!” (Courtesy of Mary Brzezinski)
(Courtesy of Mary Brzezinski)

Here's a nice article in the Albuquerque Journal about the upcoming production of SPEED DATING TONIGHT! at the University of New Mexico. It refers to SDT! as "wildly popular." I guess it is. The actual information is forty two productions since the 2013 premiere, with eighteen this season.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Radio Interview about SPEED DATING TONIGHT!

Here's a link to a radio interview about the University of New Mexico's upcoming production of SPEED DATING TONIGHT! I love that they call it "high stakes musical chairs."

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


Nice picture from the group that's doing SPEED DATING TONIGHT! at Georgia Southern University October 21 and 22. More info here.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Marriage of Figaro at Amarillo Opera

Time for a little Mozart at Amarillo Opera. Photo is by Susanna, Madison Leonard and is from Amarillo's Cadillac Ranch, not to be confused with the Mustang Ranch. It is nice to see Darren K. Stokes again who is singing Figaro.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

I recently posted this little bit of advertising (bragvertising?) on facebook--

It is gratifying, to say the least, to see how well SPEED DATING TONIGHT! is doing this season. 
This fall it is playing at Auburn University, Georgia Southern University, Lawrence School of Music, University of New Mexico, Amarillo Opera, University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, Otterbein University, and University of North Carolina at Greensboro, I supposed it would be nice to have written a profound and lengthy show like SUSANNAH or THE CRUCIBLE, but we are what we are! 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

This one and the next one

I had a great time earlier this month remounting ALICE RYLEY for Savannah Voice Festival. It was a great honor to me that SVF decided to revisit ALICE so soon.

They have announced the second one act I'm going to write for them. ANNA HUNTER. I'm going to attempt to chronicle her efforts to save Savannah's historic character in the 1950s. The full opera is going to be called ALICE AND ANNA.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Old media

I was too busy last summer, so this summer I took July off, at least in the sense of not being on the road. Some home renovations included the floor of my studio, so it has been a good time to throw stuff out and reorganize. I've kept two scanners busy--sometimes both at once, digitizing old programs and contracts. 

I have lived through an age of technological change for the way music has been recorded. I have reel to reel tapes, cassettes, Digital Audio Tapes (DAT), CDs and digital files. I have 5.25 floppy disks, 3.5 disks, and something called an Imation Super Disk

I've spent the last couple days converting cassettes into digital files. The only way to do it is to actually play them. There are some moderately depressing aspects--piles of tapes of songs that never got heard by anyone--but many good things. Just a few of the notable performances are an orchestra piece called FLOOR EXERCISES which imagined an olympic gymnastic competition. Each piece was preceded by witty narration by David Manning. My music doesn't rise to the standard of David's delightful parody. It was performed in the mid-eighties in Durham, North Carolina. Another great performance was BUOSO'S GHOST at Chicago Opera Theater in 2000. It was beautifully conducted by their maestro at the time, Lawrence Rapchak.

I've always found getting rid of stuff a bit difficult, but I was inspired by this article about Marie Kondo in the New York Times. 

I'm probably going to end up sending a big box of cassettes to Washington state for recycling. Fortunately they can go "media rate."

Friday, June 10, 2016

SHOT! opens tonight in Buffalo

production photo by Glenn Murray

For nearly a month, we've been at Nickel City Opera in Buffalo helping birth a new opera, SHOT! by Persis Vehar. About the assassination of President McKinley at the Pan American Exposition, the opera has been given a beautiful production. It should go well tonight!

Sunday, April 3, 2016


Nice interview here about the upcoming SPEED DATING TONIGHT! production at University of Texas at El Paso. Tickets to their production include a dinner.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Lutefisk dinner in Fargo

Out on the road at Fargo Moorhead Opera and there was an opportunity to try lutefisk. Although it wasn't something I'd crave, I've certainly had things that were more challenging to eat. They served it with a butter sauce and a cream sauce. The lady who served me the sauce on the lutefisk said "I don't eat that stuff." 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

This weekend, March 24-26, is the California premiere of SPEED DATING TONIGHT! at Humboldt State University. They have a nice blog post about it.

"The characters are fresh and modern, and very diverse. Directors have (almost) complete discretion to place the daters' interactions in whatever order best fits the casts' strengths. This flexibility is crucial, and also ensures that no two productions will be the same. (Just like no two people are the same!)."

Meanwhile I'm up in Fargo at Fargo-Moorhead Opera where we are doing Puccini's SUOR ANGELICA and GIANNI SCHICCHI. Boy are geese loud in the early morning!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

San José Chamber Orchestra 25th Anniversary Recording

I'm so pleased that the San José Chamber Orchestra has included Craig Bohmler's performance of my PIANO CONCERTO in the recording celebrating their 25th anniversary. You can go to Craig's website and hear some of it. Buy it and help them celebrate! The recording was first released in 1997. Their conductor and founder, Barbara Day Turner, has been an unceasing supporter of contemporary music. Both the orchestra and BDT should be better known than they are. Their 25th anniversary concert is this weekend.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Canadian spin on a SPEED DATING TONIGHT! song

Here's a link to a performance by Lee Clapp from last fall's production of SPEED DATING TONIGHT! at McGill University. The Bus Boy song has a fantasy bit that is supposed to be tailored to the particular fancy of the singer, the production, or the locale and their director Jonathan Patterson has done a super job with that. Watch out Justin Trudeau. It's all in keeping with the collaborative nature of SDT! and my particular belief that a composer is an important part of the team, not some kind of god-genius.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

How much of SPEED DATING TONIGHT can I do without a grand rights license?

Thanks for clicking on this post. Here's your answer until I decide otherwise: FIFTEEN MINUTES. SPEED DATING TONIGHT! is protected by grand rights licensing. That means you can't do it with staging unless you've contacted me and I say you can. Even if you have the pdf of the whole thing. So what I'm saying here is if you want to do up to fifteen minutes of the show, go ahead without contacting me.

The good news is that you can download a perusal copy and it will cost you nothing. Why? I'm the composer and librettist and publisher so I get to decide if that is ok or not. And I believe that for a composer, "the big problem isn't piracy, its obscurity."  (Tim O'Reilly via Cory Doctorow) I want you to do an excerpt and have that make you want to do the whole thing, so you can get the satisfying arc and closure that you'd get from a full production and then I get a fee. Plenty of folks are deciding to do the whole show and I want you to join them.

So go ahead and do your fifteen minutes of favorite pieces of SDT!. There is a small catch--the perusal score doesn't have every version of every song in it, so if you want that fifteen minute excerpt in a certain key range, unless you are lucky, you're going to have to contact me and let me sell you the versions you need. I will charge you for those, cause of the time involved.

Here's a further explanation of grand rights licensing. It's what a traditional publisher like Boosey and Hawkes might do, or a licensing organization like MTI or Tams-Witmark. But in this digital age, it's gotten simple enough for business minded creators to do it themselves. I love the fact that SPEED DATING TONIGHT! has filled a niche implicit in opera production--shows that fit available personnel. It's kind of how the composers in the 18th century wrote works that showed off the particular singers available at an opera house. But it would have been a pain to do on any scale before computer music notation and things like pdfs made information so easy to share.