Archive for the “Portland” Category

The job requirements of a working composer are elusive, perhaps especially for composition students enrolled in University degree programs that fail to provide graduates with the interpersonal and business skills necessary for survival outside the walls of academia. One student composer told me recently: “We are all being trained to teach.”Woody Allen famously said: “Those who can’t do, teach. Those who can’t teach, teach gym.” But those who compose and don’t teach do find ways to sustain themselves and their passion for music through a variety of collaborative and creative means, some perhaps less “traditional” than others. With this in mind, let’s have a chat with my friend composer Tom Myron.

The range of Tom Myron’s work as a composer includes commissions and performances by the Kennedy Center, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Portland Symphony Orchestra, the Eclipse Chamber Orchestra, the Atlantic Classical Orchestra, the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, the Topeka Symphony, the Yale Symphony Orchestra, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the Bangor Symphony and the Lamont Symphony at Denver University. He works regularly as an arranger for the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall, writing for singers Rosanne Cash, Kelli O’Hara, Maxi Priest and Phil Stacey, the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, and the Quebec folk ensemble Le Vent du Nord. Le Vent du Nord’s new CD Symphonique featuring Myron’s orchestra arrangements is receiving an incredible amount of positive press throughout Canada and will be available for purchase in the U.S. soon. A video preview of the recording is included in this interview.

His film scores include Wilderness & Spirit; A Mountain Called Katahdin and the upcoming Henry David Thoreau; Surveyor of the Soul, both from Films by Huey. Individual soloists and chamber ensembles that regularly perform Myron’s work include violinists Peter Sheppard-Skaerved, Elisabeth Adkins and Kara Eubanks, violist Tsuna Sakamoto, cellist David Darling, the Portland String Quartet, the DaPonte String Quartet and the Potomac String Quartet.

Myron’s current projects include commissioned work for the Eclipse Chamber Orchestra and creating arrangements for Joe Jackson’s music-theater piece Stoker
inspired by the life of Bram Stoker author of 1897 Gothic novel Dracula.

Tom (I’ll call him Tom now) graciously took time out of his schedule to answer a handful of questions including several having to do with the “business” of making music.

Chris Becker: You arrange and orchestrate music for a variety of artists and have a career composing concertos, string quartets, and various settings for voice. Are these two separate careers that you have to juggle? Or do they intersect providing you with even more musical opportunities than if you were focused only one or the other?

Tom Myron: From a purely logistical point of view it’s a juggling act. Both types of work tend to lead to more opportunities within their respective areas, but there isn’t a lot of overlap. That said, they DO intersect for me on a more personal, creative level. I love getting to know all kinds of musical idioms in a very practical, mechanical way. I also love just about everything that goes into handling, preparing and rehearsing music for live performance. My training in composition and the orchestral repertoire has benefited my commercial work by giving me the flexibility to consider (and rapidly execute!) multiple solutions to specific problems. The commercial work in turn informs my composition by instilling a disciplined work ethic and keeping organization and clarity of intention foremost in my mind.

Read the rest of this interview.

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This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Washington Composers Forum. Like any of these ventures, they’ve had some busy and some moribund periods. But more than most and especially through the last decade, the WCF has been a pretty consistent force, beacon and shelter for composers of all stripes (as I can personally attest to from my own long sojourn in the Seattle area). They’ve been great about getting the word on opportunities out to their members, sponsoring commissions, readings and concerts, and their Composer Spotlight series (a different composer holds court each month, sharing whatever they think is important in their world)  has been a fabulously smart and successful local draw for years now.

The WCF is having their celebratory concert this Thursday evening, May 6th, 8pm at the Chapel Performance Space at the Good Shepherd Center (4649 Sunnyside Avenue North, 4th Floor, Seattle / Tickets at door. $5-15 sliding scale), as part of their Jack Straw-supported Transport Series. The concert of world and regional premieres will feature the Icicle Creek Piano Trio, Pacific Rims percussion quartet, violist Melia Watras, and the Seattle Phonographers Union. Highlighted on the program is the premiere of a new work by composer Wayne Horvitz, an inaugural commission by Washington Composers Forum, launching the organization’s new commissioning program. Other composers on the bill include Christopher Bailey, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Diane Thome, Huck Hodge and John Cage — and if you’ve never yet seen the Seattle Phonographers Union in action, you’re in for a spookily wonderful treat.

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Meanwhile, the next day just down the road in Portland, Oregon, Third Angle New Music Ensemble is finishing their season with a concert titled “Views from Cascadia” (7:30 PM, The Old Church, 1422 Southwest 11th Avenue, Portland / Tickets: $30 general/$25  65+ & students). The chamber music program features pieces by Tomas Svoboda and David Schiff from Portland, John McKinnon from La Grande, and Charles Nichols from Missoula, Montana.  This is Third Angle’s big bon voyage before it performs at the Beijing Modern Music Festival in late May, taking a few of these Northwest sounds to introduce to an international audience.

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