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It’s interesting and/or fitting that the first time I write an entry in weeks is from my studio at The MacDowell Colony, a place specifically designed to create freedom of time. But because of a frantic push up until the day I left for NH, the big piece is finally finished (Symphony No. 1, My Hands Are a City), and I find myself here, with sketches of the opera on the (holy cow, spectacular) desk, and a stunning winter-woodland view out the window.

It’s not unlike riding a roller-coaster, screaming along with the throngs surrounding you, then coming to a screeching halt to find yourself alone in the middle of forest.

On the wall here in this studio called “Chapman”, about a mile from the main colony buildings, are the names of those who’ve worked here previously. Writers and poets, but mostly composers whose names give me the willies. And who, I would like to assume judging by the state of it, played on this Steinway.

Roy Harris (1925)
Douglas Moore (1927, 1935)
Marc Blitzstein (1928)
Aaron Copland (1928, 1938)
Robert Ward (1938)
Irving Fine (1947, 1949)
Gardner Read (1949, 1950)
Ralph Shapey (1956)

Names that, if one is of a strong emotional constitution, make you giddy to be among their numbers. Or, if you’re even the slightest bit delicate, will send you cowering into the fireplace in the fetal postion. Guess which category I fall in.

Same goes for some of the more recent, of course…

Bright Sheng
Michael Torke
Lee Hyla
Sebastian Currier
Paul Moravec
David Dzubay

I see friends and colleagues on these tombstones (they call them tombstones), too. So when I leave I’ll drop DW, SW, and CP a line to compare notes.

I wonder if they tried the outhouse.

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