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Recording “The Oracle”

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of hearing my “tarot piece,” The Oracle, come to life in Barefoot Recording Studio in Hollywood!

The work is a 12-minute exploration of the human condition as told through the symbology of a tarot deck. It’s written for five musicians, who each represent an important natural element: piano (Tree of Life), violin (Fire), cello (Water), flute (Air), and clarinet (Earth).

Many thanks to the following people for making this possible: Agnes Schwartz (violin), Pola Benke (cello), Liz LaCoste (flute/piccolo), Ryan Glass (clarinet), Masako Klassen (piano), and David Martinez (engineer).

I’ll announce when the recording is ready for release. In the meantime enjoy these photos from our recording session!

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On Super Bowl LIII TV!

I don’t know if you happened to catch a glimpse of a certain Super Bowl promotional video that aired about an hour and a half before the start of the game. But if you did, you might have caught a glimpse of me playing with the CMG Music Recording orchestra on site at Warner Bros. Studio, at the famous Eastwood Scoring Stage, where all the famous composers of the Golden Age of film recorded their music!

Superbowlendgif
The grand finish!

It was a unique experience and I am so honored to have been asked to participate. 🙂

Check out the full video below, and enjoy not only the video screenshots but a few backstage shots as well!

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Behind-the-Scenes “Legend Seekers” Media

These past few months have been indescribably fulfilling, yet chaotic, as these things usually go, lol. 😉 I’m nearly through my first semester as a music professor for Cal Poly Pomona; I’ve spent nearly every waking moment setting up and teaching my new classes! I’ve really been enjoying this adventure, and I look forward to each following experience with this wonderful school.

Naturally, as the semester draws toward a close, I’ve been itching to get back to composing and completing my upcoming album, “Legend Seekers” – I’ll be able to start getting back to these projects in just another few weeks, yay! In the meantime, I’ve been meaning to set up this blog post to showcase some of the photos and videos documenting our recording sessions for “Intrepid” and some of the other works that will appear on this upcoming album… Enjoy the gallery and impromptu videos below!

Don’t forget… if you’d like to be a Backstage Supporter of this and other future projects, visit the Backstage Community to see what perks are available–like autographed copies of scores and albums as well as your name listed on the albums you support!

A very special thanks to everybody who has patiently worked with me to make this become a reality!! <3

Strings recording Intrepid
Strings recording Intrepid
Winds and brass recording Intrepid
Strings recording Intrepid
Tina recording “DodecaFunky”
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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— 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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Our Featured Musicians: #InternationalWomensDay Edition

Yesterday, I had the great pleasure of introducing two of our amazing musicians performing on the “Of Roses and Lilies” upcoming April recording session! Meet violist Charlotte Van Houten and our soprano soloist Ayla Draper below…

Here’s Charlotte: “I began my musical studies at age 3… I love premieres specifically because it’s always so much fun watching the composer hear their music brought to life for the first time!… Recording sessions always seem magical to me. I love going into a studio, never having seen the music before, and then sight reading it along with an orchestra and hearing something entirely new unfurl. Sarah has such a lush and fantastical composition style that I know this session and piece will be beautiful.”

 

Here’s Ayla: She plays “Piano, Voice, Mallet Percussion…I’ve been playing Piano since I was 7 years old, I’ve been singing my whole life, and I’ve been playing percussion for 6 years. There is just something so fun and adventurous about getting to hear your own creation come to fruition, and working with the performers to get the feeling that you want! …[I’m excited to meet] all of the other musicians that Sarah has pulled together, and working together to make this beautiful piece flourish!!”

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Making Music Come to Life

This season is bringing with it a most amazing opportunity to record some of my more challenging pieces with live musicians. I have always said that I would rather hear my work done by even mediocre live players than by a computer. To be fair, of course I want to present my work accurately, too. 😉 But there’s something raw, visceral, and alivethat human players bring to the mix that a computer just cannot equal.

A couple Saturdays ago, I and four of my talented friends got together in a gorgeous, echoey church sanctuary to record the live performance of my “tarot quintet,” The Oracle.

It was a most wonderful session! There’s something about the colors and nuances of each unique instrument in the player’s hands, when it melds and mixes and (sometimes) clashes with the others, that just can’t be duplicated by a computer.

A central lesson of acoustics is that, the more instruments you have, the less the lack-of-human-nuance is noticeable in digital playback. Take my “Madrigal, for Orchestra,” for example. This recording was made with my own digital playback, with the few solo lines in the middle and at the end recorded live by myself. When a piece is written for full orchestra, the individual player’s nuance disappears into the mass of sound. So a computer can recreate this wash of sound better than it can for any kind of a chamber group, where there is only one player per part. With chamber music, everything is so open and exposed that our ears can tell when it’s not a live player on the recording.

And, wouldn’t you know it, my most favorite forces to write for are various chamber groups!! Good thing I have wonderful friends I can call upon to play my music! 🙂

Coming up next in this adventure toward a new Summer 2017 album is the April recording of my neo-Romantic work, “Of Roses and Lilies.” It calls for full string orchestra, soprano recorder, english horn, piano, small women’s choir, and soprano soloist. It’s pretty epic–it’ll be so wonderful to have an official recording of this work done! Then in May, we’ll record three final chamber works…

Lots to look forward to! Whenever you get the chance to support live musicians, please consider doing so. We do what we do because we couldn’t imagine not making music. 😉

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Photos and Demos: New Album in the Works!

On Feb. 11, I had the great joy of working with my talented friends, Anne Sherrill (cello), Wan-Chin Chang (piano), Virginia Figueiredo (clarinet), Tina Huynh (flute/piccolo), and James Rael (CBTTF Records) recording my complicated and epic quintet, “The Oracle“!

Enjoy some photos from the session below!…

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Additionally, I have two more pieces to share, works that will also be included on this new album, expected to come out this Summer…

Aradia, La Bell Pellegrina, for Flute (or Violin), Easy Clarinet, and Piano, is a brand new piece I wrote for a friend and his son (who is studying clarinet performance). A mysterious and haunting duo, it’s based on the Italian legend of Aradia, daughter of the moon goddess Diana and Queen of the Old Religion.

https://soundcloud.com/sarah-wallin-huff/aradia-la-bella-pellegrina-for-flute-clarinet-piano

Falada, for Violin, Viola, Cello, and Piano. Falada (which is Portuguese for “Spoken”) is a compilation-piece derived from two of my earliest works: The Dove (1998) and The Old Music Box (2001). Together, this work for piano and string trio (violin, viola, and cello) evokes the mood of a storyteller weaving ancient tales that remind the listener of humankind’s shared history.

https://soundcloud.com/sarah-wallin-huff/falada-demo-for-violin-viola-cello-piano

 

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Live Debut of “Christmas Wayfarer” for Concert Band!

Check it out! Here’s the video of the LIVE Premiere of “Christmas Wayfarer” (concert band version), performed by the Golden West Pops!

You can also download the original symphonic version on my album ESOTERICA, and find the music here: (for Symphony), (for Concert Band).

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Leviathan of the Ancient Deep: Mythic Electric Violin Concerto

“Leviathan of the Ancient Deep” is a concerto for 6-string electric violin, EWI, Synth, and orchestra.Collaborating with PARMA Recordings, we want to create a definitive recording of this challenging work, in order to share it with others.

This is a one-of-a-kind concerto that deserves to be heard! Check out the video below exploring the history behind this unique work, and hear a solo snippet from Movement 1 (“Seekers of the Legend”) played by Sarah on her cool Dragon-Violin!

If you agree that this is a work that should be shared with others, visit iSupportNewMusic.com to see how you can help. Set up a custom, subscription-based donation if you like, get exclusive, project-based announcements when you contribute, and choose from an exciting list of rewards!

And, of course, the biggest thing you can do is spread the word about this project to your circle of connections – never underestimate the power of sharing! 🙂

Thank you–we couldn’t do this without you! <3