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I’ve been mentioning, hinting, and talking around 3 new (or new-ish) pieces of late, without giving much detail. Since the travels have ended, and I’ve finally culled all available audio for these suckers, I hope to flesh these out a little more. (I can’t imagine anyone would want to listen to all of these in a row, so, y’know, take it slow.)

1) My Hands Are a City. For months I’ve been typing this title, and having nothing to link to. Now that we’ve got a few performances under the belt, there’s a page online, with the score and a live perusal recording, courtesy of the (really terrific) Texas A&M-Commerce Wind Ensemble conducted by lead commissioner Jeff Gershman. This fall sees the World Premiere Recording by John Lynch’s University of Georgia Wind Ensemble, on the Naxos label (the sessions sounded great). The program note gives many of the details on the piece, so the only thing I would add is that there’s not a note in the work that doesn’t somehow come from either The Rivers of Bowery (it is meant as a drastic expansion of that shorter piece) or from mid-century beebop/jazz source tunes. Also, the plan as it stands now is that this is but one movement of what will eventually be a 3-mvt piece. Probably this is the third. The idea would be that one can program The Rivers of Bowery in addition to the full 3-mvt MHAaC work (Symphony No. 1? Really? Thinking about it) and have a complete Beat-themed Newman concert half. Well I like it.

2) Climbing Parnassus. After a spectacular performance of As the scent of spring rain… by The Florida State Wind Symphony at the 2007 CBDNA National Conference (thanks, Rick!), I was approached by the awesome foursome from Tokyo Kosei to write a piece for their Japan Wind Ensemble Conductors Conference the following year. They were arranging a Festival ensemble comprised of members of the 4 commissioners: Kawasaki University of Medical Welfare “Heartful Winds” (medical students, mostly), the Nagoya Wind Symphony (an area youth wind ensemble), Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra (the professional ensemble in Tokyo), and Wind Ensemble KANADE (a simply amazing pro group). I knew that JM (slick new site design, John!) had just returned from the 2007 JWECC gig, and couldn’t conceive of not doing it, so after asking if we could do 2009 (No, 2009 was already booked for SB) I said Yes and we were a Go and my 2007-8 writing schedule was officially out of control. I was late with the piece, of course, but surprisingly, it turned out really well. Since I was just coming off MHAaC, and was faced with another wind ensemble piece, I was intent on making something altogether different from what I had just completed. And so where MHAaC is huge, sprawling, rhythmic, and note-y, Climbing Parnassus is intimate, relaxed, and sound-y. I was terrified they wouldn’t like it, but after hearing that Nakata-san was pleased, I was one happy camper. The program note explains the title a bit, so the only thing I would add about this one is on the ensemble setup. After trying and then discarding several other arrangements, I settled on a simple (turns out in practice it’s probably less-than-simple, as people were frantically running around on stage to make it happen) stereo setup for most of the pairs of instruments and choirs … clarinets on one side, clarinets on the other … trumpet 1 on one side, trumpet 2 on the other … bowed marimba on one side, bowed vibraphone on the other…etc. Nothing new under the sun, certainly, but effective. The recording of this fantastic performance does not exactly show this off, so you’ll have to use your imagination a little. Trust me, live in performance, the stereo/panning stuff sounds AWESOME. But I’m kind of pleased that it’s the kind of piece that needs to happen live to give the full effect (what piece isn’t, I guess). That makes me happy in a wonky kind of way.

3) Concertino for flute solo, chamber winds, and piano. Finished a year ago, we now have a full recording, and it’s smokin’. Robert Ambrose‘s premiere with flutist Sarah Kruser Ambrose (for whom the piece was written) as soloist in February was so terrific – but I there were weird recording problems. It’s always something. These tracks (there are two, click the top “listen” button for mvt 1, and the second “listen” button for movements 2-3) feature Gary Hill conducting Elizabeth Buck and the Arizona State University Chamber Players. Believe it or not, there are early plans for recording this one for an upcoming Naxos CD as well. I’m trying not to think about that too much, in case it doesn’t happen. There’s a brilliant program note for this one too, of course, which gives the idea on the whole French (or French-isch) Chamber Music stylization. But let’s be honest. The first movement is Newman does Poulenc. The second is Newman does Takemitsu. The third is Newman does Martinů. Hey, just calling the spade what it is, that’s all.

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