Performance

Now that I have a 100+ posts on this blog, I feel quite accomplished for keeping up with… well, anything for such a long time. I’ll be honest, I haven’t been as consistent as I should be with my posts especially when I’m crammed with work. But more work means more things to talk about! And I certainly will get to all the important events I’ve neglected, but the most important must come first.

I don’t know when you can officially start calling yourself a composer; it’s something I’ve always struggled to define. Is it when you first write a piece? Is it when your work is published? Or maybe you have to write music as a profession? I still can’t say for sure. But after the 2011 Winter Choral Concert of my high school choir, I truly feel like a composer.

I wrote a choral piece called “A Miracle” after attending CME last summer. The piece was largely inspired by much of Jim Papoulis’s music, as he was the guest composer for CME. I had a great time working with him and his music more closely than I probably ever will again. The piece, edited with the help of a few encouraging singers (You know who you are, thank you!), received a positive response from my musician friends. So without knowing what I would get out of it, I presented the work to the choral director at my high school.

Thankfully, he was surprisingly welcoming with my work. He took a listen and let me know that he would love to have the choir take a look at  the piece. With that, I was delighted. I had had the band sightread a few of my pieces, and now I would get a choir piece sightread as well. Little did I know, at least until the day the director emailed me, that he would be performing my work at the winter concert.

If you’ve ever had the privilege of being a composer, you don’t need me to tell you how amazing it feels to have your work performed for the first time. Do you remember the first time you performed a solo in front of an audience? It feels something like that. You’d think, as a composer listening to his work performed, you wouldn’t be as nervous as if you were performing it. But you are. At least I was. Even with all the nervousness, it made me feel very accomplished.

So thank you, to all the people who came up to me after the concert and expressed how much you liked the piece. Thank you, to the choir and the director, for working hard to ready a performance of my piece. Thank you to everyone who encouraged me to keep on writing music, especially my band director and my close musician friends (Again, you know who you are).

As long as I live, music will be a part of my life. I see this performance as just a small first step in that journey.

Appreciation

It’s mean to be funny, and it most certainly is. But being me, I also really wish this was a part of the modern culture. Because many of my friends do not appreciate classical music as I do, I’ve always thought there was no way to share my interests in deceptive cadences or clever modulations with my peers. If this was what happened at concert halls, I could imagine taking all my friends to the next… game?

The Presence of Music

On the last day of school before Thanksgiving break, our English teacher asked us what we were thankful for. Each person told the class what made them grateful, and most of them consisted of family, friends, vacation, and such.

When it was my turn, I couldn’t help but say “the presence of music in my life.” Immediately following were a few cries of “I knew it!” from a few of my friends. But it’s true, you know. I’m always thankful for what music does to me. It’s a shoulder to cry on during times of need. It’s an encouraging friend in times of doubt. It’s a fellow party goer during crazy evenings. Whatever the situation, it’s one thing that will never fail me.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all, I hope it brings you as much rest and joy as it has brought me.

MIT Splash

This past weekend, I had a chance to attend MIT Splash. It’s a program hosted by MIT students for middle and high school students from all around the country. For the whole of Saturday and Sunday, students take one to three hour long classes on numerous topics ranging from organic chemistry and quantum physics to conducting and even internet memes.

I took courses about mathemagic, black holes, special relativity, combination locks, and conducting. Not only did I learn a lot, but I had my friends there to enjoy the experience with me.

But I wouldn’t be posting about this event if it wasn’t related to music somehow. Two of my classes were related to music: Intro to Livecoding and Conducting and Interpretation.

Livecoding, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, describes the composition and performance of music in real time through the use of programming languages. While it definitely is not the traditional style of “music composition” that I’m used to, its possibilities are endless. I could, for example, sit down with a computer and a friend, and we could emulate the sounds of an orchestra all by ourselves. There are things in music that no machine could ever substitute, but there are also aspects that could be greatly enhanced by the capabilities of computers. The class showed me how much fun I could have with these programs.

Conducting and Interpretation, on the other hand, taught me about the long-practiced skills of conducting. We went over beat patterns, cut-offs and cues. We went through the steps of score analysis, and ended by watching some great conductors perform. Conducting is surely a skill that can only be bettered through diligent practice. What makes conducting differ from practicing other instruments is that while you can bring home a saxophone, or a flute, or a clarinet and practice, you can’t bring home an orchestra to practice conducting. But hopefully I will get more opportunities to conduct as the future presents itself. The teacher of the class certainly encouraged me to find some. Apparently according to him, I have potential. Yay!

But all in all, both musical and not-musical, I learned a lot. And MIT Splash just goes to show how well students can learn if they are motivated by their own interests to do so. I plan to attend again next year, and perhaps I’ll even bring along more friends.

Glory

We’re currently in the middle of our Civil War unit in our U.S. History class, and we began watching Glory. I’ve seen it once before in 7th grade, but only now did I notice the great soundtrack. I went home and found out that James Horner was the composer! What a glorious (pun intended) soundtrack.

Sightreading Eclipse

Not to start off on a tangent, but apparently according to Blogger “sightreading” is not a word. So I Googled it, and indeed it should be written as two separate words. As confirmed by Wikipedia.

As a lazy musician, I refuse to accept this and will continue to write the word as “sightreading.”

Speaking of sightreading, my high school band sightread my newest piece for concert band, Eclipse. As she has been every year, my band director was helpful and generous in the fact that she lent her rehearsal time to me for this opportunity and that she took the time to learn the score to conduct the piece. She also encouraged the band members to write constructive comments on their parts so that I could see what they thought about the piece.

Overall, the reaction was positive. This was my first big trial with minor, fast paced pieces, and with that in mind I think it was fairly well-received. As always, I learned technical things regarding different instruments that I had not known before.

Now, with all the constructive criticism that I have collected, I plan to revise the piece soon. Unlike my previous pieces for concert band where I wrote them and forgot about them, I plan to actually revise this piece to its fullest potential.

Oh, and just in case she reads this, I’d like to end by giving a big thank you to my band director.