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.

Day 4 and 5 of CME

It’s over, and it truly was a Music Experience. Working with Jim Papoulis and Janet Galvan, I learned so much about everything from singing and conducting to composing and publishing music. The chances I had to talk to Jim Papoulis personally was not only enlightening, but he himself is an inspiring figure for me in the fact that I could one day be like him. I also made many new friends during the week, and I plan to keep in touch with many of them.

I don’t think the energetic melodies will leave my head for a long while. It was a week to remember for the rest of my life.

Day 3 at CME

It’s been a LOT of hours singing since Monday morning. And we’re all tired because of that. The fun hasn’t diminished, though. The music is still great, except those few songs that I cannot sing for the life of me. I’m expected to just know the harmony, but since I’m new to the choir I have had to learn the songs quickly. If it wasn’t for my sight-singing ability I wouldn’t have survived the first day.

In terms of Jim Papoulis, I had another short conversation with him concerning chords and a few suggestions to the song that we were writing. He’s a great person to talk to: open to suggestions, friendly, and approachable.

Now I can’t wait until the concert on Friday!

Day 2 at CME

More Jim Papoulis music, more friend-making, more fun, and lots more singing.

Jim Papoulis held a song-writing workshop with our choir, and while it’s difficult to write a song with 90 kids, he was very inclusive with the singers. He made sure the song was about our own lives rather than his. While he figured out much of the musical aspects of the song, watching him work was inspiring, to say the least. Knowing that he created music the same way I did (but with much more adept skill and musical knowledge that you can only get from years of experience), it was almost as if he was saying to me, “keep doing what you do, you’ll be like me someday.”

Afterwards, I went up and had a word with him. He was a very approachable person, and seemed to genuinely interested in my wish of becoming a composer. One day, I hope to be the one leading the song-writing workshop. Hey, I can still dream, right?

Day 1 at CME

My first day at CME was nothing short of amazing.

To sum it up, it was a day filled with lots of singing, only interrupted by two 10 minute breaks and lunch. The song selections were composed of many of my favorite choral pieces, including many from the renowned composer Jim Papoulis. And that was the best part about the day: The Master Class with Jim Papoulis.

Our chorus is used in a master class for who I believe are graduate students for conducting. They each take a turn on the podium to conduct us, and it’s a learning experience for both them and us. Imagine this: a room with a chorus of 90 kids on one side, and a small group of conductors all sitting on the other. Imagine one conductor on the podium, leading us through one of the songs by Jim Papoulis. Now imagine Jim Papoulis himself in the back of the room. Changes things, doesn’t it? The master class not only allowed me to see how conductors are really taught, but also to see how composers interact with the performers to really get across their expression of the music.

As Janet Galvan, the clinician who worked with the conductors, told each of them what they could do better, I myself listened and learned much to improve my own skills of conducting (which are minuscule, believe me). Not only that, but I even got a chance today to go up on the podium myself as an example to show a student’s expression of the music and conduct. Needless to say, it was nerve-wracking to have the composer sitting behind me as I “conducted” his song, but nevertheless it was a once in a lifetime experience.

Off to a great start, CME is!

CME and Jim Papoulis

An exciting new opportunity has arisen for me: during the next week, I will be attending Choral Music Experience with the guest conductor Jim Papoulis!

Not only will I be doing a lot of singing, I’ll have a chance to participate in conducting classes and composing workshops with one of the best choral composers in America! If you have not hear his music, here are some of my favorite:

Hopefully I’ll get a lot out of fun and musical learning out of CME, and maybe even get to converse with Jim Papoulis! This is the first time that I’ll get to meet one of my “idol” composers in person, and I am very, very thrilled.