Falling for Fall

The date of my previous blog entry should reveal that I’ve been busy. Well, “busy” may actually be an understatement.

I must admit that adjusting to life in Oregon has been somewhat rough, though I think I’m finally beginning to adapt. It’s been especially helpful to live in Oregon during the fall season, as it is very lovely this time of year. One day, I walked outside from an on-campus building and witnessed a spectacular natural event. Rain began to pour from a tiny lone cloud, surrounded by a lustrous midday sun and blue sky. The raindrops, fat and bulbous, sparkled in the sunlight. On their way to the ground, the heavy drops tugged bright red, gold, and orange leaves off of the trees. The combination of light, color and movement made for a dazzling show, courtesy of mother nature.

Not only has fall been beautiful, it’s also been productive. In the beginning of November, I traveled to New York City to hear Choral Chameleon sing the East Coast premiere of Giant Mirror and the world-premiere performance of Sempiterna. The performance was wonderful, and I was especially impressed by their deeply felt rendering of Sempiterna’s third movement, “In pace.” The group is comprised of remarkable individuals, and each time I see them, I enjoy their graciousness and enthusiasm. Seeing them is as delightful as hearing them.

Yale University's Battell ChapelWhile on the East Coast, I traveled to Yale University to hear Vance George conduct combined college choirs at the National Collegiate Choral Organization convention. They, too, sang “In pace,” and performed well. It was an incredible experience to make my East Coast debut in New York and at Yale within a week’s time.

I’ve made a great deal of progress on Such Beautiful Things, and composed two new choral works: “Kyrie” from Missa Antiqua and Stars. The “Kyrie” was brought to life in a reading session with Revalia at the University of Oregon. Revalia is an all-male choir from Estonia, in residence at the university in mid-November. I conducted my reading session, which went well. It was great to musically and personally interact with the singers, and it was an honor to conduct and write for them. Also, working with Revalia’s director, Hirvo Surva, was a deep artistic experience I will cherish forever.

Just ten days ago, Downtown Detour premiered at the Oregon Composers Forum concert at the University of Oregon. Haley Engle, violinist, and Ben Krause, pianist, did an amazing job with this difficult piece. The audience seemed to like it, too, which made me happy. The entire concert was a blast, as the works of my colleagues were all high quality pieces. It was a real privilege and pleasure to be part of it.

Stars will receive its world-premiere performance in New York City tomorrow night, performed by Choral Chameleon under the direction of Vince Peterson. I’m currently on the plane to New York as I write this blog, and I am thrilled to see and hear my friends in Chameleon again!

Now I’m on Christmas break, which means I will make a lot of progress on Such Beautiful Things, and write another blog entry about Stars and my visit to New York.

Until then, Merry Christmas, and happy holidays to all!

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