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“Legend Seekers” Awarded Silver in the GMAs

I was thrilled to discover this morning that my April 2019 album Legend Seekers won the Silver Medal for Outstanding Achievement in the composer/composition category of the Global Music Awards!

I am so honored (and validated)!

If you haven’t already, go take a listen to Legend Seekers today! 

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Behind the Scenes: Rehearsing “The Old Beggar-Woman”

Soprano Lauren Jorgenson and I got to get some rehearsal time in this morning, working on The Old Beggar-Woman from my upcoming Bros. Grimm Song Cycle ! Not too shabby so far…

The lesson here… when you see an old woman catch on fire, for god’s sake, put out the flames! ??

Come to our Modern Musicale on April 7 to hear us perform it!

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Sneak Peek into Recording Prep for “Intrepid”

Coming up soon in these next couple of months, we’ll be recording the epic Fantasy for Oboe/English Horn Soloist and Chamber Orchestra, “Intrepid“! It will be an amazing compliment to the Leviathan E-Violin Concerto on the upcoming album! <3

To prep the upcoming strings-only session — to make the process as easy as possible on my dear friends helping to make this possible — I decided to record myself playing the 2 violin parts and viola part ahead of time. It’ll give me a lot more flexibility in mixing the tracks, and give my players a really solid footing when reading through this together.

One of the things I love about a process such as this, is getting to hear a larger piece broken up into its basic layers–getting to hear what components interact to create the overall effect–and it never ceases to amaze and thrill me! I love music that weaves in and out of itself like a sonic tapestry…

You can get a sense for the intricacy of this work by listening to the following two segments of this prep-recording. Enjoy! 🙂

Want to contribute to this recording? There are several ways you can help:

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Huntington Library Adventures

Not too long ago I had the pleasure of exploring the Huntington Library for the day. What a throughly refreshing and calming experiencing! I recommend anyone who’s in town go and see it! 😉

I’ll post a gallery of all the photos I took that day at the bottom of this post, but there was one specifically amazing exhibit I took video from and that I wanted to share…

NASA’s Orbit Pavillion

Satellites that study the Earth are passing through space continuously, collecting data on everything from hurricanes to the effects of drought. What if you could make contact with these orbiting spacecraft, and bring them “down to Earth?” Visitors can do exactly that [at] NASA’s Orbit Pavilion… [Orbit is] an innovative “soundscape” experience representing the movement of the International Space Station and 19 Earth Science satellites. Inside the large, shell-shaped sculpture, distinctive sounds are emitted as each satellite passes overhead…

I have always loved the sounds of space, ever since I first heard the “interstellar music” of the complete Voyager sound recordings in the ’90s. So, when I experienced the Orbit exhibit first-hand, I can’t tell you the total joy and enthrallment I felt encountering it… I tried to capture just a taste of what I was experiencing with this short video you can view below… I hope you enjoy it! ^_^

 

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#NewTuneThursday: Faces in Foam

Welcome to #NewTuneThursday!

Today’s tune is our next track from “Music for The Book of I” — Faces in Foam, which is actually the opening track for the whole “Book of I” experience.

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 knew several things when I started writing this track: I wanted to feature “the Olive Woman” with a pseudo-African or -Egyptian feel; I wanted to also feature the little, angelic, Greek boy Lucio; and tying it all together with the rest of the album, I wanted to create a Herrmann-esque wave of crashing drama that called forward to the central track, “I Know What Death Sounds Like.”

I love the “African” drive of the first part of the work. But I very much love the latter part–Lucio’s part. I tried to create an open, early Greek aesthetic with the intertwining lines of muted and plucked strings. And then, “Lucio himself” sings (in this recording it’s the wonderful voice of countertenor Caleb Barnes); it’s a haunting setting of the Alma Redemptoris Mater:

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 final cry by Lucio just sums up the whole work beautifully as the “Faces” Teaston encounters get swallowed by the “Foam”… and we move forward into the rest of the story

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This haunting work can be performed by an intermediate-advanced string orchestra with soloists and some percussion. Get the sheet music here! And stay tuned for our new work of next week…

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#NewTuneThursday— Anima Mechanicae: Soul of the Machine

Welcome to #NewTuneThursday!

Today’s tune is another really special piece to me, with lots of good memories attached to it. ^_^

“Anima Mechanicae: Soul of the Machine” is a string quartet that I wrote in 2007, during my grad school days and toward the end of my utter obsession with Minimalism, specifically after the stylings of Philip Glass. Listening to the recording of it below, I’m sure you’ll be able to hear the similarities. :p

But this work has a story element to it, that’s near and dear to my heart. The Mechanical Star of the work is actually a character that makes her first appearance in the second book of my original Kesher Chronicles series, “Questions of Faith.”

This character, SARA (an advanced “Security Analysis and Records Archive’ malleable-Paradigm”) — over the course of the second and upcoming third books — becomes very involved in the lives of the humans around her and tries to orient herself within her constantly evolving thought-processes…

You can see why I included the following quote in the score to the quartet:

Dedicated to the computers and robots of the future, who long to dream as the humans do.

The structural details behind this almost-12 minute work include:

…moments of mechanical coldness [in the opening], gradually giving way to moments of tender and emotional beauty. Wallin Huff intentionally derived and fashioned her various rhythmic and tonal patterns throughout the work from strict mathematical relationships — to showcase that a mechanically constructed framework can give way to striking beauty on its surface, much in the way a computer program of the future might evolve into its abstract dream-state.

The sections of this single-movement work include: Mechanically, Quixotically, Pensively, With impish behavior, Tenderly, and Surreal.

I’ll never forget the opportunity I had in 2012, traveling to Boston to hear the New EnglandString Quartet record this work for PARMA Recordings. You can hear them in that very session on the album “Soul of the Machine” below:

 

Two years later, “Anima Mechanicae” got its European debut at a concert at the Exeter Phoenix Auditorium in Devon, England!

I do have sketches and outlines for a multi-movement “sister” piece for quartet …something about Consciousness… :p It would be nice to complete that one someday soon… I’ll keep you posted! 🙂

“Anima Mechanicae: Soul of the Machine” can be performed by an advanced string quartet. Get the sheet music here! And stay tuned for our new work of next week…

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#NewTuneThursday: Phillipy is Fragmented

Welcome to #NewTuneThursday!

Today’s tune is our next track from “Music for The Book of I” — Phillipy is Fragmented.

Phillipy refers to himself in the third person, as if existing as a separate entity from his very self. I find the habit interesting, a sport of sorts, a way of explaining one’s actions from a distance.
Phillipy knocks at the door…three times…
“…three times, that’s all Phillipy can take.”
He can tell when thoughts are tangled. He may speak in the third person but he is linear, he follows one thought with the next… 

In creating this track, I wanted to really feature Phillipy’s autistic obsession with precision and the number 3 in the following ways:

  • the work features a solo trio (violin, viola, and cello) against the backdrop of the string orchestra.
  • the main sections “plunk” along with pedantic and clockwork rigor
  • at around 1:58 in the recording, the accompanying harmonies are outlined with ascending triadic arpeggios… (meanwhile, the harmonic progression is descending… pretty cool, right??) ^_^
  • at two points in the recording (1:58 and 3:48), the main theme is broken up by two variant themes that move the rhythm along in 3/4 as opposed to the methodical 4/4 we started in.
  • at around 2:58 in the recording, the solo trio plucks out the dissonant “knock three times” motif that is one of Phillipy’s compulsions — and they repeat this three-note motif…three times in a row…

And finally, toward the very end of the work (around 4:04), we hear the descending glide of the violins as Phillipy “goes to meet his mother”… and we finish with a stark, triplet rendition of the main theme from “I Know What Death Sounds Like“… a theme that tends to emerge everywhere you look in this Suite… 😉

Enjoy the recording of “Phillipy is Fragmented” below — featuring Darrell Peries on solo violin; Cathy Alonzo on solo viola; and Jenna Ford on solo cello.

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This heart-wrenching little musical sonnet 🙂 can be performed by an intermediate-advanced trio. Get the sheet music here! And stay tuned for our new work of next week…