News, gigs, and signs

Christian Knapp conducted the original orchestra version of “Redline Tango” at the Eastern Music Festival on Saturday. I couldn’t be there, but the report is that he — and the players — did a great job. I hope they send me a recording.

My iPhone — my second one, mind you — had to be replaced yesterday because the speaker was no longer audible. There have been widespread reports about the ringers being too quiet, but mine was beyond even that (the guy at the Genius Bar heard it and said, “yeah, that’s lame.” Indeed.), so I took it back to Apple, and they sent me home with a new one. Let’s hope the third one’s a charm.

Redline Tango” and “Strange Humors” have officially been added to the Texas UIL Prescribed Music List. This is a good thing, because it means that high school bands in Texas can play those pieces at contests without first obtaining special permission. Hopefully this will lead to more performances at the high school level in Texas. A shout-out to Grapevine High School, Permian High School, Friendswood High School, and Poteet High School, for playing my pieces before they were on The List.

For the curious, I submitted four works for consideration — Redline Tango, Strange Humors, Turbine, and my percussion ensemble piece, Mass. Turbine and Mass were not accepted.

A PML shout-out to Michael Markowski, whose excellent piece, “Shadow Rituals,” was also added. I’m not positive, but I’d bet that Michael is the youngest composer on The List. Oh, and congratulations to John Corigliano, whose “Gazebo Dances” was also added. Maybe that will give Corigliano the professional boost he deserves.

Speaking of that Corigliano guy, I heard his “Circus Maximus” again on Sunday. That work is a masterpiece, plain and simple.

In other completely different news, I’m accepting a part-time teaching position. I’ve been invited to teach composition lessons and run the composer seminar at California State University, Long Beach, this fall. It’s kind of a perfect teaching gig — just lessons and the seminar, and only one day a week. No theory, no administrative duties, no “music for non-majors,” none of it. And did I mention no theory? I’ll have six students. CSU knows about my travel schedule, so they’re making the lessons flexible. For now, it’ll just be for the fall, and then we’ll reassess to decide if I’ll stay on.

I wonder what it will be like teaching the same students week after week. When I give master classes or lessons when I’m doing a residency, I see everybody just once. Listening to a (usually) finished piece and making comments is easy (“meh, this part here kinda blows”); helping to shepherd a work from start to conclusion is something else entirely. I’m excited to figure out how to do this. Maybe it’ll help me figure out how to write better, too. (My teacher in undergrad, Donald Erb, always said that students made him a better composer. Maybe he was just trying to convince us we weren’t wasting his time.)

Finally, on our drive back from Napa on Sunday, we passed the coolest town in California. I’m totally moving there someday.


Travis Taylor says

Looks like I'll be heading over to CSU for my undergraduate studies, then Mackey'll be my teacher!

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