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.
On May 29, 2015, as part of the Composers Collective Spring Concert, Jason Wirth premiered my solo work for piano, Tombeau (for David Ward-Steinman). Dr. Ward-Steinman was one of the first people—along with fellow SDSU faculty members Joseph Waters and Brent Dutton—to encourage me to compose. He passed away earlier this year while I was in the midst of writing this piece, and since he was one of the first to teach me about 12-tone technique, I decided to dedicate the work to him. Thank you to Jason for his incredible playing, the Composers Collective for the opportunity to join their ranks on this concert, and to the staff of the National Opera Center for their support.
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.