Frank Ticheli and Me

Yup, that’s me next to Frank Ticheli. For those of you who don’t know, he’s a renowned American composer and a favorite of mine. I was lucky enough to attend his concerts with Ithaca College’s Wind Ensemble, Symphonic and Concert Bands. Great composer, conductor, and a great guy, too.

Les Miserables (2012)

When people ask me if Les Miserables is a musical, I tell them no. Instead, I call it an experience. It’s an experience to be loved, to be lived, and to be sung. And sing I did, as I walked out of the theaters after watching the new movie by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech).

Top-notch ensemble cast, legendary producer, innovative director, unparalleled music. What more could you ask for? It was every bit worth the wait and more. The favorite tunes were all there, and they even added some new bits and pieces here and there. Including, if I might spoil it, a brand new piece written just for the movie (Suddenly).

I’m no film critic, so I won’t do such a thing as to give a score or a rating. But the movie truly moved me. Although there were moments that I wish the singing was done better or differently, those moments paled in comparison to the grandeur of the experience as a whole.

Please, go see it this holiday season. Do yourself this favor: you won’t regret it.

Inspiration for Us All

Unfortunately for those of you who don’t have Facebook won’t be able to view this, but here is a post that I made on Eric Whitacre’s wall a while back.

Exciting stuff! Although strangely enough, having my own piece called “gorgeous” by my hero wasn’t the most moving experience I took away. Rather, it was all the comments from other musicians who I’ve never met, yet loved my piece. Their kind words are what push me to keep composing.

Les Miserables

Or, if you prefer,

Personally I’m more drawn to the 25th anniversary, mostly because I am more familiar with the cast: Lea Salonga, Ramin Karimloo, etc. But whatever your preference is, if you’re a Les Mis fan (who isn’t?), you’re probably just as excited as I am for the new ensemble cast movie that’s coming out Christmas day. As if Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman weren’t exciting enough, the movie’s directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) and produced by Cameron Mackintosh (Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera). And little known to many, Colm Wilkinson, the original Jean Valjean, makes an appearance in the movie as the priest.

Needless to say, I am super psyched for the movie.

Oh, and a great side effect of preparing for the release of the Les Mis movie during this time of year: instead of christmas carols, Les Mis music is stuck in my head 24/7. So much better.

Old Wine in New Bottles

Here it is, in full glory. I went to watch the movie at its midnight release with friends, and while the fun factor and the good movie factor pulled me to go, it was really the music that made me forego my sleep to watch this. As with the previous films, Howard Shore did not disappoint. If you had been able to see my face when the movie started off with the Hobbits’ theme, you would’ve thought I was a five year old.

Knowing and understanding the symbolism hidden within the musical themes, it mad the movie just that much more rich. For example, the fact that the clarinet, not the flute, now held the Hobbits’ theme, said much about the change of character between Frodo and Bilbo. However, despite the abundance of original music, there was only one new theme that stood out: the Dwarves’ theme. Even if you know nothing about music, you’ll notice it during the film. Trust me. The other recognizable themes, however, such as the beloved Hobbits’ theme and the Ring’s theme, were reused.

Another interesting thing of note: the first few measures of the soundtrack are akin to Beethoven’s works in that the theme switches back and forth from major to minor and back again (pun intended). It’s fitting for the movie, and I bet Howard Shore’s inspiration included Beethoven.

I plan to go watch it again in theaters before the movie stops showing, and maybe that time I’ll simply sit down, close my eyes, and fully enjoy the magical creation of Howard Shore.

Virtual Choir 4

It’s here! And it’s going to be bigger than ever, which is why Eric now needs a Kickstarter to fund it all. Please consider supporting this innovative musical project and help push the boundaries of music making. Encourage all your musician friends to join as well.

For those of you who don’t know about Virtual Choir, click the link above and check out Eric’s video.