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V.T.C.M.A. 12

Yeah, yeah, I bet EVERYBODY’s blogged this one… But I just gotta get on that bandwagon, too! ūüôā

Of course, I’m talking about John WilliamsAir and Simple Gifts¬†composed for and performed at Obama’s inaguration yesterday. The musicians? The venerable¬†¬†Anthony McGill¬†¬†on clarinet,¬†Itzhak Perlman¬†on violin,¬†Yo-Yo Ma¬†on¬†cello (who was also asked by the inauguration committee to organize the performance), and¬†Gabriela Montero¬†on piano.

It’s a beautiful piece, no doubt – the¬†instrumentation¬†reminding me (and lots of others) of Messiaen‘s¬†Quatuor pour la fin du temps, of course, and then my mind instantly turning to Copland‘s¬†Appalachian¬†Spring with the entrance of Simple Gifts¬†in the clarinet. Which, it turns out, was done intentionally; and here I thought I was being clever. ūüôā¬†


Williams quotes that passage almost verbatim, and goes on to put the hymn tune through a very Coplandesque treatment before bringing the mood back down to earth with the opening material.

Although Williams chose to¬†use¬†the Copland material because¬†President Obama counts that composer among his classical favorites, there’s another significant point here. In 1953, a pre-inaugural concert by the National Symphony Orchestra at Constitution Hall, a concert attended by then president-elect Eisenhower, was to have included a performance of one of Copland’s most popular works,¬†A Lincoln Portrait. But a Republican congressman (from Illinois, by the way) objected, suggesting that¬†Copland was too liberal and¬†maybe even Communist-friendly, so the piece was pulled from the concert. Inserting the touch of Copland into the Obama inauguration, Williams told¬†Variety¬†last week, offers “a completed circle of events that is nice to think about.”¬†

Tim Smith (Baltimore Sun)

Without further ado, here is the video, and, if that’s not enough, you may download the mp3 file here!

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Join the First Online Orchestra!

Join the world’s first collaborative online orchestra.

We invite musicians from around the world to audition for the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. Your video entries will be combined into the first ever collaborative virtual performance, and the world will select the best of you to perform at New York City’s Carnegie Hall in April 2009.

…Professionals and amateur musicians of all ages, locations and instruments are welcome to audition for the YouTube Symphony Orchestra by submitting a video performance of a new piece written for the occasion by the renowned Chinese composer Tan Dun (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). We have tools to help you learn the music, rehearse with the conductor, and upload your part for the collaborative video.

And how do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice and upload. Send us your talent video performance from a list of recommended pieces. Finalists will be chosen by a judging panel and YouTube users to travel to New York in April 2009, to participate in the YouTube Symphony Orchestra summit, and play at Carnegie Hall under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas.

The deadline for all video submissions is January 28, 2009.”

YouTube Symphony Orchestra

Violinists! Check out, too, the LSO Violin Masterclass created as an aid in preparing for this experience!

All instruments are welcome to play in the YouTube Symphony – there is even a “conversion chart” available for more traditionally uncommon instruments such as Sitar¬†and Duduk!

I’ve already downloaded my part. How about you? See you online and at Carnegie Hall!! ūüôā

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My Latest Work

I know… it’s been a while… But I have an excuse –¬†because¬†I’m getting married next week!!!!!!! Woo-hoo! ūüôā

But I did want to put this up officially while I was thinking about it…

My latest completed work, Fair Katrinelje and Pif-Paf-Poltrie, is meant to be a¬†jaunty comedic work, based on a lesser-known tale from the famous Brothers’ Grimm. Growing up reading these fairy tales, this very brief and repetitive dialogue always caught my fancy. The “story” focuses on our hero, Pif-Paf-Poltrie, who is out to seek the hand of his beloved, the Fair Katrinelje, in marriage. Being the gentleman that he is, he approaches in turn each member of his beloved‚Äôs family to ask their permission. Father Hollenthe, Mother Malcho, Brother High-and-Mighty, and Sister K√§setraut all respond in turn similarly ‚Äď essentially, ‚ÄúIf it‚Äôs all right with everyone else, it‚Äôs all right with me.‚ÄĚ

I’ve always loved the cyclical nature of the text, how each family member’s response to our hero’s request is always the same as the one before it and maintains a certain rhythmical persistence throughout – you can almost hear the speaker becoming more weary and desperate with each stanza! [Take a look at the full text here.] Needless to say, when approached with the assignment of writing a vocal work for soprano, piano, flute, and cello, this long-beloved text came to mind!

My musical inspiration was stimulated largely by the compositional genius of Stravinsky; firstly as a result of my preparation of the violin part of his L’Histoire du Soldat¬†for¬†an upcoming performance at the time, and secondly, through my charmed admiration of a little setting of his for soprano and piano of The Owl and The Pussycat. Thus there is a quirky charm about the music in my Fair Katrinelje¬†piece¬†that brings out the off-kilter humor of the Grimms’ tale, and it really sets the mood of the whole work nicely!

Needless to say, this piece is very different from my usual style, but for that, and for the childhood memories it evokes for me, this is a little gem that I enjoy very much.


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Special V.T.C.M.A.

Finally, now on YouTube, you can view Steve Zelt’s film, The Visit, in its entirety, with original music composed and performed by me and my good friend Danielle Cummins!


And, through my relationship with both Danielle and Steve, I met talented singer/songwriter Larry Enriquez and had the pleasure of improvising and recording violin parts for a good number of his original tunes. Well, later, we were able to make music videos of each of these tunes, so here is the first of those music videos (more to come later!). What a great experience!


“Embrace the Day”

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Recent News

The biggest news in my life currently is that, after a recent audition, I am now an official member of the Orange County Symphony! I am sincerely looking forward to growing under the current music director, and working with the orchestra on the fantastic selection of music they have planned for the coming year. Stay tuned for details on concerts as they come up!

In other (smaller) news, I have just signed on with a new database for composers and performers called It is easy-to-use, a great tool for searching out musicians for your events and other needs, and a great place for networking with fellow professionals. View my composer’s profile and find all sorts of info about me, including some of my works with program notes and sound samples. Or view my performer’s profile, and find all sorts of info about me :), including upcoming performance events and sound samples. If you are a professional (or aspiring to be such) composer or performer, consider contacting for an invite to join!

And, finally, if you notice at the very top of my right-hand sidebar, I have added a “My Upcoming Events” section, where I will be updating a list of upcoming events and concerts. Clicking on the link of the name of the event will open a page with more info on that specific event; be sure to check back often!