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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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A Very Inspiring TED Talk: Art of Asking

I stumbled upon this video last night, and it really struck a chord with me.

Lately, I’ve been inwardly struggling with my fears of trusting myself, my art, and those who love my art. I have a tendency (a deeply hidden tendency) to feel a strange sort of shame in what I do and in asking for the outside help that’s always been needed in order to accomplish what I do — even though it’s how I’ve built what I’ve built so far, since the late ’90s.

There have been plenty of people in my life who have thrown the whole “Get a real job” trope my way and scoffed at my ambitions. And there have been many fellow colleagues who’ve berated me for even suggesting that they may wish to partner with me on a project for something in return other than financial reward.

It’s important to remember that “it takes a village” of people to care for one another — body, soul, and spirit — in this life. And Art brings a community together in ways like nothing else can. I’ve always felt that Music is more meaningful when made and experienced with friends… And that means You!  🙂

In this heartfelt TED Talk, Amanda Palmer asks:

…what I was really saying here was, I trust you this much. Should I? Show me. For most of human history, musicians, artists, they’ve been part of the community. Connectors and openers, not untouchable stars. Celebrity is about a lot of people loving you from a distance, but the Internet and the content that we’re freely able to share on it are taking us back. It’s about a few people loving you up close and about those people being enough…

I think people have been obsessed with the wrong question, which is, “How do we make people pay for music?” What if we started asking, “How do we let people pay for music?”

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What’s your Fav Geeky Music? Tell Me What to Play!

UPDATE (as of 3/16/2015): This event has been moved to a date to be determined in May… Keep your eye out for news on that!

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I’ve been asked to perform at the awesome and fun, upcoming Geek Girls’ Night Out at Brave New World Comics!

Naturally, I have a list of some of my own favorite geeky themes I’ve performed in events past – themes from tv, film, video games, anime, etc. – but I want to know…

What are YOUR favorite geeky themes that you want me to include on my live performance-list for this event??

If I play your request, I’ll personally dedicate it to you by name! 😀

I’m looking forward to getting your requests and refreshing my performance playlist with awesome new music!

Violinist is all clear...
Violinist is all clear…
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Great Review for Soul of the Machine!

Check out this review from babysue:

Sometimes the idea behind the music is just as interesting as the music itself. According to the press release that accompanied this disc, the music on this album “…explores the relationships between mechanical structures, organic beauty, and identity.” Now that might sound a bit complex and heady, but after hearing the music on Soul of the Machine…you’ll get it. Sarah Wallin Huff presents three unusual compositions that tackle some intriguing ideas and topics. [Wallin] Huff is a violinist and Professor of Composition (and conductor of the Chamber Ensemble) at the Master’s College in Santa Clarita, California. Her music is quite complex and unusual and yet…very easy to absorb and appreciate. There’s a lot to take in here. These three compositions clock in at over sixty-two minutes and incorporate a wide variety of sounds and ideas. Our favorite is the wonderfully moody and subtle “Gypsy Wanderer” which is divided into four sections (“Irreverently,” “Grave,” Con Brio,” and “Rapide”). This piece features Maria Wozniakiewicz on violin and Karolina Rojahn on piano and is nothing short of breathtaking. Another exceptionally slick release from the fine folks at Navona.

It’s really, really nice to hear when my music has reached somebody in such powerful ways. I enjoy it (duh!), but it’s so gratifying to hear when others are touched positively by it, too. 🙂

Find “Soul of the Machine” here.

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Learning to Read Music is Easy, and Valuable for Everybody!

Everyone can (and should) learn the basic fundamentals of reading music — it’s NO different than when you first learned to read words. And you don’t even have to be able to play an instrument to understand or appreciate it!

By learning even the simplest basics, you open yourself up to a far deeper understanding of music across all genres and periods of time– again, just like growing from a simple understanding of basic words to being able to carry on a meaningful conversation, music will hold much more meaning for you because of your greater understanding of its construction.

It sounds scary, I know. And there always seems to be this stigma that music is only for “geniuses” or that it’s impossible to understand for the “common masses.” This is nonsense. If a two-year old can figure it out (and I’ve taught them; they can), so can you. 🙂

Take just five minutes and enjoy this engaging and thoroughly comprehensible TED educational video; don’t be afraid– treat your brain to a little bit more enlightenment today! 😉

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Introducing… “Of Roses and Lilies”

At last, the epic song for Soprano, Women’s Chorus, Soprano Recorder, English Horn, Piano, and String Orchestra is COMPLETE! And joins the ranks of the four new pieces I’ve completed this year alone, interestingly enough…. :mrgreen:

A little history: This work was actually first written approximately back in 2002 or 2004 or so. It was originally only for soprano, piano, and two-part women’s chorus. But it hadn’t sat well with me, as it just didn’t quite communicate all the powerful potential that it could… So, after “doodling” around with it for a bit in the interim, I finally settled on the instrumental forces listed above, and from then on I ran ahead with full momentum and excitement, seeing it through to its glorious finish!

Enjoy the rough demo recording below, and look forward to future performances and proper recordings of it in the near future! 😉

Read the Lyrics here!

Title Page_Roses-Lilies

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Just felt like sharing this oldie-but-goodie….

How very appropriate are the lyrics for our current state of affairs….! I wish more could take these words seriously in our world….

“In a word, let me say: if we might keep in necessary things Unity, in unnecessary (doubtful) things Freedom, and in both (everything) Charity, our affairs would certainly be in the best condition.
…How quickly the glory of the world passes away.
… Mystery of faith.”

Verbo dicam: Si nos servaremus in necesariis Unitatem,
In dubiis Libertatem, in omnibus Charitatem, optimo certe loco essent res nostrae.
O quam cito transit gloria mundi.
In necesariis Unitatem, in dubiis Libertatem, in omnibus Caritas, Caritas,
…in omnibus Caritas, optimo certe
Loco essent res nostrae. Mysterium fideii.
Fideii….
Mysterium…
[Translation]
In a word, let me say: if we might keep in necessary things Unity, in unnecessary (doubtful)
things Freedom, and in both (everything) Charity, our affairs would certainly be in the best
condition.
…How quickly the glory of the world passes away.
… Mystery of faith.

(Purchase Introit here….)