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The List

Every year around now I submit my “ASCAP+” application, which is, for all intents and purposes, a simple listing of any performance, any recording released, any award, and any piece you’ve written during the past concert season. I’ve written about this before, but the issues this particular activity drudges up will never be resolved. One tries and tries to builds a catalog that has a performance life to it, and at ASCAP+ time, one is forced to take an exacting stock of that life and its particular ebbs and flows. On its face it’s a good thing, of course–an opportunity to compare accomplishments with goals–but for someone like me (I’m not sure what that means, either) it’s not exactly easy to stomach. The results are usually terrific (they award some $), but let’s just say I’m glad I have to deal with this only once a year.

This year I did a little tally. I spent much of the year writing the first three scenes of the opera, so other than that I wrote only two works: De Profundis (a wind ensemble piece), and Milori Blue (not a wind ensemble piece). Both of those had premieres (Milori Blue premiered yesterday, in fact), but the complete listing of performances was intriguing…

Including arrangements, there were 68 performances. That’s a tally of every time something was played, so if one ensemble played a piece three times on tour, I counted that as three performances. I make up the rules here, people – no raised eyebrows, please. Now, that’s a terrific number, I remember (not so long ago) when in a season I would average three performances. Or two. Or none. Even so, two years ago, the number was more like 90. Like I said, ebbs and flows.

There were:
11 As the scent of spring rain… performances
6 of Chunk
7 of Avenue X
3 of The Vinyl Six
3 of the new piece De Profundis
and 1 of The Rivers of Bowery

Most interestingly, there were 14 Symphony plays this past season, all from commissioners. I was stunned by that number, and even more stunned that it turned out that this was the winner in the hypothetical “most performed” category. I guess having 30 co-commissioners helps the 30′ piece along…

Now to the oddballs. Climbing Parnassus enjoyed its second U.S. performance … but by one of the Japanese commissioners. Still only one U.S. ensemble has attempted it (I feel a little like Mr. Babbitt on this one). There was no Concertino performance, but a Japanese recording of it was released. There was a single chamber group version of OK Feel Good (in Portugal), but none of the wind ensemble version. Intriguingly, by my records, there hasn’t been a performance of the wind ensemble version since 2007.

There was also no Uncle Sid performance this season, but I did receive a fun recording of one from last season (I love recordings of that piece, they are like an audio snapshot of kids goofing off), and I just received a hire inquiry for a Sid performance this Fall in Perth, Australia. So Sid‘s still kicking, God bless ‘im.

In the arrangements category, Alarm Will Sound played Fingerbib again, which was giddy fun at (Le) Poisson Rouge, and the glorious Hila Plitmann just sang her composition chaos (twice, so that counts as two performances) last weekend, which I arranged for string quartet, bass clarinet, and piano, for her Airhead show.

Much like the traditionally-published Moon by Night (12 known performances this season), it’s difficult to tell when 1861 gets done. It’s sold through a distributor, so I don’t really know who buys it. And for obvious reasons it’s difficult to search for performances of a piece with that title … I keep coming up with death dates and geneology sites. The last record I have of a performance is from over a year ago, although it’s very possible that one or two or thirty have happened and they never got into the performance database.

Like I said, it’s a simultaneously encouraging and disconcerting exercise. So, thanks, ASCAP. You keep the existential angst flowing. I’m (annually) grateful.

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  1. Thanks for depressing me, Jonathan! …I mean, KUDOS!

    Posted on 28-May-10 at 1:24 PM | Permalink
  2. ASCAPlus:Composers::Tax Audit:General Public

    Posted on 28-May-10 at 4:06 PM | Permalink

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