I am so honored and pleased to have a colleague like the multi-talented Tim Yao. Enjoy these brand new official Profile shots he created for me today!
Enjoy this marvelous video from historian and Bach-expert John Eliot Gardiner about J.S. Bach and his very human imperfections.
Bach, the orphan rebel, had a suspicion of authority that ran deep throughout his life, and made him an often domineering and unpleasant person to deal with. Gardiner doesn’t see any contradiction here. “The very fact that this music is so profound and so uplifting and the man is clearly not a saint makes it all the more interesting,” he says.
I’m always pleasantly surprised when a composition has such a life of its own that it can dictate to me when it’s ready to be finished, and when remaining themes reveal themselves to be ripe for a separate and new work. :)
Introducing Faces in Foam, theme #5 in THE BOOK OF I Project!
This is certainly a complex work, on so many levels! Musically, it calls for string orchestra; solo violin (played “Ethnically,” no less); percussion (timpani, suspended and crash cymbals, tambourine); AND… a boy soprano… singing in Latin… <3
He (in emulating the innocent and forgotten Lucio, the “little death”) sings toward the end (in the demo recording you’ll simply hear a piano plunking out the chant-like melody…. Very soon, though, that’ll be a voice…); he sings from the Alma Redemptoris Mater, a text originally written around the 1000s AD for the Catholic Advent and Epiphany mass:
Alma Redemptoris Mater, quae pervia caeli
Porta manes, et stella maris, succurre cadenti,
Surgere qui curat, populo: peccatorum miserere.
Sweet Mother of the Redeemer, the passage to the heavens,
The gate of the spirits of the dead, and the star of the sea, aid the falling.
Mother of Him who cares for the people, have pity on us sinners.
This abridged set of quotes below, taken from Jorge Armenteros‘ “The Book of I,” aptly describes what I was going for in this work:
The woman sits at the edge of the cliff looking out to the sea…a daughter of North Africa perhaps. Her cheeks reflect olive light. She looks at me, carving her face in my memory…the step towards the rocky edge…I listen to the lines forming her face…I return to the melody still dancing in the air…
Lucio…had a delicate face…sharp angles, oblong eyes, and a classic Greek nose. I saw his face before the rocks disfigured him…he has the face of the forgotten… I try to paint him… I take a Renaissance approach, depicting him in a diaphanous light, like an angel…
I know those faces are…around me… They joined the sea because they had no other choice. Their faces are washed of past concerns. …If I…attempt to render them as ex-living people in my canvas, the white foam is quick to reclaim them. That is why all my canvases turn white–the frothy sea swallows them.
I really love how this installment has turned out! It is so driving and passionate and diverse…. It will be truly a delight getting to hear this performed live!
As I mentioned above, I had also started ideas for the next theme, which I call the “Everyman Theme”… I’d originally conceived it as a part of this present work. But, after much reconsideration — and the naturally beautiful unfolding of the end of “Faces in Foam” — I discovered, rather, that this theme will introduce my next installment fantastically well–it’s the perfect entrance for the next work!
I am thus eager to get off-and-running on Theme #6, titled: The Elusive Everyman and Her Majesty….. Stay tuned for more! This album (the composition portion of it, anyway) is fast nearing completion!!!!
Woke up this morning to a sudden burst of inspiration for another of my themes for THE BOOK OF I! “Solitude’s Hypocrisy” for solo violin and classical guitar… It’s utterly captivating to work on– maybe I’ll complete it by the end of today! :)
“The ever-shifting world throws me into a lonely corner when I need someone. And when I crave solitude, my skull lets everybody into my mind.” –Teaston (written by Jorge Armenteros)
My next Book of I theme, titled “Sweet Camila,” is on its way forward! I’m making great headway with this charming string quartet! I can’t wait to record it live! ;)
I am having a BLAST working full-throttle on this new album of music for Jorge Armenteros‘ novel, The Book of I. Today I’ve written nearly 4 minutes worth of music for one of the tracks! It’s only a rough draft, so keep an open mind, but if you’re interested in hearing what I’ve been up to so far, check it below!
This track, loosely named “Death’s Leitmotif,” is based on a concept in the book where the “angular melodic twists, keep coming back” to the mind of the main character, as he continually contemplates and befriends Death’s imminent greeting… Thought it’s not at all complete, see if you can hear where I’m going with this!…. Enjoy!
Woohoo! I am so stoked to announce that I have finally finished the complete engraved rendering of the score and parts to my latest composition, Of Roses and Lilies!
I have been working hard to learn the coding language necessary to operate LilyPond, and after completely hacking away at this particularly gigantic score, with the need for idiosyncrasies in notation related to keyboard, vocal lines with lyrics, strings, and woodwinds, I have emerged victorious! I would not have put so much effort into mastering this program, if the resulting sheet music didn’t look so beautiful and professional! On top of that, in regard to formatting the score/parts, whereas graphical notation software continually presented some bugginess in the output, even after having completed the final product, LilyPond’s formatting is essentially automatic, with the flexibility to adjust each aspect as necessary. To simply type in what is needed and then render and receive an automatically beautiful output, is completely worth the effort it took to learn how this coding works! Plus, now I feel pretty smart, lol. (^‿◕)
And now, Of Roses and Lilies has been added to my sheet music collection for sale! Check it out at my Sheet Music Store!
I have a couple of exciting things on the horizon….
- First, the FINAL RECORDING SESSION for my new album with PARMA is fast approaching! On December 28th, at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport,
- On Gypsy Wanderer: sisters Maria Wozniakiewicz (violin) and Karolina Rojahn (piano).
- On Counterpoint Invariable: Klaudia Szlachta (violin 1), Julia Okrusko (violin 2 – Julia is the featured first violinist with the New England String Quartet and recorded the definitive recording of my quartet, “Anima Mechanicae: Soul of the Machine“!), and Maria Wozniakiewicz (violin 3).
- I’ve also had the opportunity to chat with the producer for this recording, Mason Daring (who wrote and recorded the score for the movie, “Music of the Heart,” among other things); I really enjoyed getting to know him and look forward to working with him on the 28th!
- And our engineer for the session will be the highly knowledgable and experienced Tom Stephenson.
- Second, I have been asked to compose a full album to go with, and in response to… a novel…! I’m really thrilled about this project! Psychiatrist Jorge Armenteros of Florida has written a creative novel entitled, The Book of I, about a French artist struggling with fragmented personality scenarios–with lots of symbolism and intrigue, from what I hear… I’ll be diving into Jorge’s manuscript very soon, and I’ve already got ideas floating around my brain for new compositions related to this project…
- Upon hearing several of my tracks and demos, Jorge was especially fond of my works Anima Mechanicae: Soul of the Machine, Counterpoint Invariable, Leviathan of the Ancient Deep, and Oppression– he has expressed a desire to hear new tracks along the lines of these, featuring strings and the solo violin. Needless to say, I was very pleased to hear that, because that’s right up my alley! Stay tuned for details as this intriguing creative project unfolds over the next few months!…
- And third… I got a pleasant surprise in my inbox the other day, when Simon Belshaw wrote me and said that he plans on including my string quartet “Anima Mechanicae: Soul of the Machine” in a modern music concert in the UK that he is in the process of curating. I’m not sure of any of the details at this point, but I am entirely thrilled and flattered that my little work aims to be performed there soon!
Here it is! Proof that I had the immense privilege of working with James Franco!!
Many thanks to reporter Luzzei Tsuji, who not only featured me in the Santa Clarita Local Artist Spotlight, but, in the course of her research for my story, also unearthed all the details of the Franco art film that I hadn’t been able to find until now.
To recap, I got the call to head out to Universal Studios — the Bates Motel, precisely — back in February this year. I knew it was to be an art film, I got to meet James Franco and play my solo rendition of the shower-scene theme for him and did my thing when they were ready for me.. in the Shower… of the Bates Motel… where the original Psycho was shot by Hitchcock… !!
Now, there is finally news on the results of that awesome experience! The “Hitchcock-Inspired Exhibit” — titled Psycho Nacirema – was shown at the London Pace Gallery June 6 through July 27, and
“…all but recreat[ed] the eerie Bates Motel from the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock thriller Psycho, complete with a blood-spattered bathroom.
Franco collaborated with Scottish artist Douglas Gordon, whose own 1993 work, “24 Hour Psycho,” projected a slowed-down version of the Hitchcock classic lasting an entire day. The show consists of five faux hotel rooms, four of which have been drenched in gruesome red paint and outfitted with neon signs and ghostly images of a wig-clad Franco playing the part of victim Marion Crane.
As attendees sign an oversized guest book and move through the macabre setting, projections of Franco acting out scenes from the film appear on the walls, most of which are scrawled with “Psycho” over and over…”
So… where did I end up fitting in the mix? My video was playing on one of the walls of the doomed bathroom, and, it seems, my solo rendition of the Shower Scene theme was slowed waaaaayyyy down with the video’s action to lend an utterly eerie atmosphere to the grisly scene!
- On Newness you can view this 3-minute video detailing Franco’s project. At about the 1:15 mark, look on the back wall of the shot and you’ll catch a glimpse of my fiddle in the video playing against the wall! Also — get this — the music playing in the background of the video is my playing of the Shower Scene theme, in Slow Motion! Really awesome and hilarious!
- Read Elle’s article, Inside James Franco’s Hitchcock-Inspired London Exhibit, “Psycho Nacirema,” and find this mention of my small part in the action:
…you enter the notorious bathroom where you’ll find a shower red-paint doused curtain printed with Franco’s screaming image. A projection shows a violinist playing Bernard Herrmann’s screechy score from the film.
- And here is the article by Viktoria Knoblauh reviewing her visit to Franco’s Bates Motel experience, the original source of two of the photographs featured below.
Enjoy these few photos I snagged from the internet! :mrgreen: