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Category Archives: commentary

The Green Sweater


My friends at Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras are doing a Blog Thing called the “Music Commission Project”, as we gear up for the official premiere of Blow It Up, Start Again at Orchestra Hall this May. In this video I answer a question on Whither Commissioning, while looking marginally shifty as I wear a green [...]

Ludwig Van Hertz


One of my favorite recent internet footballs, those funny/cute videos our friends lob back and forth on The Book of Face and The Twits Twat and nominal Others, was the one with the first two chords of Beethoven’s Eroica, from (what I can only assume is almost) all extant recordings. I’m sure you’ve seen it: [...]



Grab your blankie, light a scented candle, and lower yourself into a nice hot soapy bath in order to create the exactly-calibrated ambience for listening to the amazing Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra play the first airing of Blow It Up, Start Again at The Midwest Clinic last month. Oh. Wait. I’m sorry. Those pre-listening preparations [...]

Brave new world


I get the question about process quite a bit, and though I’ve fine-tuned my answer over the years, I’m never really satisfied with it. But I am pretty consistent in explaining the beginnings of a project as usually meaning a few (or, more likely, far too many) weeks of “research”. What research means is up [...]

Absorbing animal matter


One of my summer projects, a new quartet for my favorite American Music Chamber Band, The Avian Orchestra, is finishing up with all the usual score-editing and parts-making hooplah. The piece, titled These Inflected Tentacles, is for marimba, piano, violin, and cello, and should weigh in at about 10 minutes or so. Here below, to [...]

Austria X


Last week, The 2011 World Youth Wind Orchestra Project in Schladming, Austria, high atop the Österreichische Alpen, gave the Continental European Premiere of Avenue X, under the baton of the glorious Verena Mösenbichler-Bryant. Little Austrian Vögels just hooked me up with the recording from the first performance, and it is SO VERY GROOVY. Click to [...]

Live from Seattle


I’ll keep this simple. People. I give you the Texas State Wind Ensemble, conducted by my friend Dr. Rodney Schueller, playing Symphony No. 1, My Hands Are a City at the 2011 CBDNA National Conference in Seattle last month. It’s wonderful: TX State live at the CBDNA National, University of WA, Meany Hall [complete, 27', [...]



One of the three original pieces I wrote last year (there were a couple of arrangements in there, too) was Stereo Action, a percussion nonet commissioned by a consortium of ensembles led by Brian Zator, at Texas A&M University-Commerce. The title is also a straightforward explanation of the percussion battery, where most of the instruments [...]

More for Nippon


After sending Vivid Geography out the door to the Japanese commissioners and the University of Houston (who will perform the U.S. Premiere this Fall) a couple of weeks ago, I restarted the task of piecing together all that had fallen to the floor in the three months I had my Finishing the Hat blinders on. [...]

in progress


Scale Shift by Marcella Durand, on its way to becoming Travel (or possibly Spectrum, or perhaps Vivid Geography) for SSA chorus and chamber orchestra. Japanese Premiere March 29 in Kawasaki City at the 2011 Japan Wind Ensemble Conductors Conference, and the American Premiere Fall 2011 in Texas, by the U.S. commissioner University of Houston, with [...]