If you believe in a piece, never give up on it!

It’s understandable for composers sometimes to wonder if one of their pieces has been orphaned or abandoned. Years go by without it being heard from and its creator asks him or herself: will I ever hear this piece performed again?

It can be particularly hard to countenance when it is a piece that you believe in; one that you feel is representative of what you had to offer during a particular period of your creative life.

Last week, going through some tapes, I found an old cassette of my Quintet (1998), the first piece I composed while at Rutgers University as a doctoral candidate studying with Charles Wuorinen. It was also the first in a group of pieces inspired by abstract expressionist artworks.

I paused for a moment before resuming filing, thinking, “I’d love to hear this piece again sometime. I’ve sent it out to a bunch of places and no one has programmed it. Guess I’ll have to keep trying.”

Last night, I got an email from pianist and conductor Paul Hoffmann asking for score and parts for an old piece, my Quintet for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and vibraphone. Helix! will be reviving it on Sunday, October 28.

Quintet was first played at June in Buffalo by New York New Music Ensemble in 1998 and was later performed by Helix! in Fall ’98 and by Ionisation (Darren Gage’s excellent group) in 2006.

This will also be the first time I’ve had something done at Rutgers – except in masterclasses – since I graduated in 2001.

If you are feeling poorly about a particular piece’s future chances, hang in there. Keep sending it out to sympathetic professionals and performing ensembles.

Here’s a SoundCloud recording of a digital transfer of that old tape!

For those of you in the area, Quintet will be performed by Helix! on 10/28 at Rutgers’s Mason Gross School for the Arts on Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, NJ at 2 PM.

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