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

Saturday, December 15, 2018

House with Gothic windows

A pretty bad drive-by picture of a house with Gothic windows in Central Iowa. Here's a wikipedia article about the style. The house that inspired Grant Wood is in Eldon, IA. 

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Tour de Chislic

(Mutton Chislic at Red Rocks Bar and Grill in SE South Dakota)

Just got back from a fun residency at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Thanks so much to the voice faculty there--Darci, Michael, and Marla--for setting it up. A lot of Speed Dating Tonight!, a little rep coaching, and helping them pick two soloists for an aria and concerto competition. They commissioned a new song for their January production of Speed Dating Tonight! and it is about chislic. You can hear a recording from a coaching
The beginning of the lyric goes...

Chislic... Meat on a stick
Sometimes on a skewer, sometimes on a toothpick
Grilled, broiled, or even fried
No matter how they make it, you should take it.

South Dakota has amazing sunsets--

Saturday, October 20, 2018


Up in Fargo to help them celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the opera. We've had a great relationship--they've done SPEED DATING TONIGHT! twice and also toured CORPS OF DISCOVERY. 

While I'm here, I got to sit in on a little rehearsal of my first mini-opera LEO. LEO was first done in 1985 at the One Aria Opera Festival produced by the Texas Opera Theater. It had a nice run--toured by the company and done by several companies--but has been on the shelf for at least twenty years. So I'm very grateful to Fred Heringes, Steven Sulich, David Hamilton, and the young singers at Concordia for planning on producing it this January. 

LEO is a jazz opera about a man who is angry with his cat. I recopied it for this revival cause nobody likes to read manuscript anymore. By the way, I've lost track of my  collaborators, Fernando Fonseca and Cal Massey. If anybody knows how to get back in touch with them, I'd love to get back in touch. There is business to be done!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Speed Dating Tonight! #62 in Savannah

 Finished up the summer with a lively SpDT! at Savannah Voice Festival. Of the 60+ productions, I've only been involved with a handful, so every time I do it, I get to hear some pieces I haven't heard before and, inevitably, revise them. The production featured the premieres of two new dates "Bow Tie Duet" and "Toaster" written for SVF supporters, the Krulics and the Andersons. 

Two of the performers, Kristina Costello and Sarah Barker were gracious enough to record two of the older pieces, Dress up, and You Know Who

As composer-in-residence at Savannah Voice Festival it is very gratifying to hear my music programmed regularly there and, in some cases, not even knowing it's scheduled until I hear it.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Hike in the Mountains/Nosy Parent from Taos Opera Institute 2018

Although there have been over sixty productions of Speed Dating Tonight!, I've only personally participated from start to finish in a handful. This June at Taos Opera Institute I've had the chance to do a SpDT! and hear some of the newer dates live for the first time. Dater #33 "Hike in the Mountains" was commissioned by Opera Steamboat and fits perfectly up in Taos.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Opera America conference 2018

I'm in St. Louis for the Opera America conference. Haven't been to one for several years.

*Panels about the need for more diversity.
*Certainly more programs for women composers and a strong women's opera network.
*More composers than before and more new work
*A real sense that the business is a struggle every year
*More companies than ever

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Lauretta from dress rehearsal of Schicchi

This is a bit Sara Duchovnay's "O mio babbino caro" from GIANNI SCHICCHI. By posing life-ending grief, Lauretta manipulates her father, Gianni Schicchi, into helping the Donati family with the problem of Uncle Buoso's unfavorably written will, which will leave her unable to marry Rinnuccio. 

We've had a lovely run at OperaDelaware of GIANNI SCHICCHI and BUOSO'S GHOST and gotten some good reviews from Broadstreet Review and the Cultural Critic

Friday, April 27, 2018

Conductors in karts getting cookies, Episode 3

One of the pleasures of working at OperaDelaware has been getting to know their regular maestro, Anthony Barrese. A meticulous and tireless artist, he has done a great service to the field by creating a large body of orchestral reductions. He is also a fellow composer. One of his favorite pastimes is go carts, something that was completely new to me. He has started a video podcast of interviewing conductors and taking them go carting.

You can watch the entire interview below, or here he samples my cart drive with my piano concerto as background.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

And Beyond: Black license plates in Delaware




I've previously shared some local stuff from the road such as the lawn jockeys in Saratoga, NY, and the signs in Amarillo. Out on the road in Delaware, they have allowed folks to keep their older black license plates. Here's a sample of them. Apparently there is some prestige in having one of these old plates. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Buoso's Ghost at OperaDelaware

Having a great time preparing GIANNI SCHICCHI and BUOSO'S GHOST at OperaDelaware

Here's a little video of a rehearsal of the opening duet with Sara Duchovnay and Kirk Dougherty.

I've got some comments about this duet posted with E.C. Schirmer here.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Musical/Opera... Do I care? No!

The headline publicizing an upcoming production of SpDT! at Kansas State in the Salina post says:

Is it an opera? A musical? Personally I don't care as long as it's out there getting performed.

Friday, February 16, 2018


For my second opera  at Savannah Voice  Festival, Maria Zouves asked if I might try to incorporate  a fugue  into the finale. This is a video from the premiere at the historic Davenport House Museum. The subject is "Sometimes  you need a little knock on the head to move forward." There are  playful  references to Beethoven and to my previous opera for SVF,  ALICE RYLEY. The two  operas will  eventually be done together, so it makes sense to bring the first opera back around.

Friday, February 9, 2018

New project

This is a demo for a new project, a one act opera about Grant Wood for the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre. Wood's study of Northern Renaissance art changed his style to the one we recognize today.

spoken: Munich, 1928. While working on my stained glass window for the Veterans Memorial in Cedar Rapids, I continue my study of Northern Renaissance art. One of the paintings I find most striking is Van Eyck’s “The Arnolfini Wedding.”
sung: Endlessly fascinating
Brilliantly detailed
I can look for hours and still miss things
The oranges, the chandelier.
The bed, the mirror, the dog, the shoes,
The state of the woman. Spoken Is she pregnant?
Sung: The hand of her husband 

imitating the gesture, spoken What’s it mean?
Sung: It’s a riddle hidden in plain sight.
What do they symbolize, what do they mean?
And how brazen to sign your name right there

In the center of the painting
Spoken: “Jan van Eyck was here, 1434.”
Sung: Cryptic, inscrutable

Manifold glories
Like revelations,
Stories within stories
Like revelations,
Stories within stories.
Stories within stories….
Stories within stories…
Stories within stories…
Ah! Stories within stories within stories...
Then it is almost as if the painting pushes him away.  And rather than being hurt by that, he understands.
It draws you in all the more
It draws you in all the more.
All that time in Paris
But I never found you there.
Very briefly, American Gothic is superimposed on it. Blackout

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

And Beyond

A totally puzzling exercise in product naming in my hotel room...