This post might seem shameless, but the recent death of Gene Wilder got me thinking about how actors, artists, celebrities, or anyone else contributing to the cultural dialog affects others in ways that are unexpected.
I met Chris Allen in January of 2003. I had just started the undergraduate program at San Diego State University’s School of Music & Dance and he was the pianist for Laurinda Nikkel’s vocal studio. Chris played piano for me in my lessons, at my juries, and for a few of the ensembles I performed with at SDSU. Chris was my first real intense experience of working one on one, consistently, to prepare and perform a piece of music with another person. I was so green at the time I didn’t even realize that I supposed to pay the pianist for playing at my lessons. I’m sure I still owe Chris some money for a few of those lessons and coaching sessions and juries.
Amid the hubbub of the last week’s Grammy Awards, many of the winners get brushed aside and go unmentioned. Among my circles on social media this usually manifests with celebrations and laments of the Grammy Awards for classical music (pop and classical do not compete against each other at the Grammys). However, even among the people proclaiming victories or lamenting the lack of press for classical music, almost no one has mentioned that this year John Cage was awarded a Trustee Award by the Recording Academy. Continue reading
The first time I remember hearing about David Bowie was from Kurt Cobain. Track 4 on Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged in New York was Bowie’s “Man who Sold the World.” I’d never heard this song, nor of David Bowie, but I did enjoy it, and brought Bowie into my consciousness. (Many years later I recognized that a song my father had synched up as the music to a Seseme Street segment was “Space Oddity.”) A few years later a close friend of mine played “All the Madmen,” we listened to the track several times that afternoon while getting high. The themes of madness and conformity was especially evocative at that point in my life.
I received word yesterday that the composer and pianist David Ward-Steinman has died. Dr. Ward-Steinman was a teacher of mine at San Diego State University and one of the first people who encouraged me to compose music. My first memories of him was walking into his office and showing him some early, early works of mine (works I’d never let anyone know about today). “The fugue is better than the prelude,” he said before urging me to submit them both in my portfolio for entrance into SDSU’s composition program.
Today the news broke that Furious 7 raked in over $380 million worldwide during its opening weekend. When I first heard that Universal Pictures would be making a seventh film in the series during Superbowl IL (I had forgotten that Paul Walker had died in an automobile accident back in 2013 when the movie was still in production), my immediate reaction to the trailer was to start laughing. When a film series reaches part seven, I expect only the worst.
Today I received an email from Danlee Mitchell, the owner of the instruments, regarding the fate of Harry Partch’s incredible instruments:
The instruments of Harry Partch are soon to arrive at a new home at the University of Washington, in Seattle. This fortuitous move was expedited by Charles Corey, and consummated by the enlightened vision of Dr. Richard Karpen, Director of the School of Music, UW, and the financial support of the UW. Thanks to these two individuals, and the UW School of Music, for the potential endeavor that this residency will surely bring about. Charles Corey will become the Director of the Harry Partch Instrumentarium at the UW with the full support of those who continue to uphold the Partch legacy.
On April 25, 2012 at 5:00pm San Diego State University Opera Theater will be presenting an unstaged workshop/reading of a new one-act opera: The Scent of Jasmine on Parker Street. The show’s story was created by local poet and artist, Ted Washington. Ted also wrote the books and lyrics (or the libretto) for the show, and I composed the music.
I’ve decided to take up blogging again. I hope this time I’ll stick with it. I imagine that this blog will be focused mostly on events and performances, plus the occasional time for me to write about musical topics that I am interested in writing about.
Here’s a list of upcoming events:
March 9 & 10: My quartet, Steppin Out, will be competing in the BHS Far West District Preliminary Contest and the Southeast Division Contest. Also, Pacific Coast Harmony, will be competing in the Southeast Division Chorus contest.
March 21: I will be performing on the SDSU School of Music & Dance’s Combined Choirs and Dance concert. I will be singing Eric Whitacre’s Cloudburst, and be doing live music for some of the dance works.
April 19: There is a John Cage celebration at SDSU’s Smith Recital Hall that I will be part of. I will be performing selections from Cage’s Songbook, and I will be performing Cage’s Radio Music.
April 25: There will be an unstaged reading/workshop of The Scent of Jasmine on Parker Street, and new one-act opera by Ted Washington and I. We will be taking comments from the audience so please feel free to share your opinions.
That’s all for now.