I was hoping to take a time out from composing after completing my second string quartet this June. Since I also teach two classes, work part-time at RILM, and am writing a dissertation, I thought my time would be better spent trying to grow some legs for some already written pieces. Then the opportunity to write a large-ensemble piece presented itself, and, naturally, I took it.

The piece is for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trombone, piano, two violins, viola, cello, and double bass. Called “Arcades and Mirages,” it’s about eight minutes long and goes pretty fast. (The score is over 300 measures.) The difficulty has been incorporating the bassoon, horn, and trombone into the jumpy, homorhythmic texture. Right now, I’m cutting a lot of notes from these instruments. Also, due to logistical problems, I can’t use mallet percussion. So I’m converting what were parts for vibes, marimba, and xylophone to piano.

Premiere’s in December, rehearsals begin early next month.  Then maybe more “career building” time will be available.  Then again, there’s this solo piano piece I want to write…

What are you working on?

26 Responses to “What’s everyone working on?”
  1. david toub says:

    I lost the summer months since my 15-year-old synthesizer was out for four months getting a logic board replacement twice, but I’ve had it back for two weeks now. Unfortunately, I’ve only had 2 hours last weekend to get back to a piece I’m writing for open instrumentation, so time is now my biggest issue. The piece is just over 40 minutes so far, and when I’m done, will make my own realization/scoring, although it will be left as an open instrumentation piece for anyone to realize. I also have a piece that I’d started months ago called ushabti that originally was going to be for solo piano, but now I’m thinking would work fine for violin and piano. But it’s going to be a bit before I get to it—off to Rome in a few days (my first time in Europe) for a conference, then Chicago when I get back and DC mid-November, so I wish I had Kyle’s talent for being able to compose in a hotel room…

  2. lee hicks says:

    hi, i am working on a classical piece of music. that is cmaj, gmaj, cmaj etc. i am learning about classical forms and harmony as i write it. i hope to make it a bit contempory in places or through but still having classical foundations, classical sound world.

  3. Steve Layton says:

    Can’t get any more “classical” than that, Lee!

  4. andrea says:

    i’m working on music for a puppet show by Lone Wolf Tribe. it’ll go up in march. lots of fun!

  5. I have alot of dirty work to do right now. I am trying to make nice pretty pdf files for all of my works. (my previous pdf program did not always provide the best resolution)

    As for composing, I am working on a piece called Ice Nine for pierrot plus percussion. Also I am working on a piece for alto sax and piano for my undergrad sax professor.

  6. Figuring out, as usual, how to balance indeterminate tempi between parts with some overal structure without using a conductor – only these days, I don’t want to use a stopwatch anymore either, and the ensemble is no less than 12 people. These are giving each other cues at structural points all the time. These themselves cues are in fact largely determinate, and the form will be entirely based on these cues – with the indeterminate parts having to sort of fit within this cue-skeleton. Somehow, it’s been extremely difficult to figure all this out… next up then will be a new string quartet.

  7. Steve Hicken says:

    Front burner: Concerto for Percussion and Band.

    Middle burner: Short opera.

    Back Burner: Short orchestra piece.

  8. Performance-wise… After I recover from sciatica episode #2 this year (ouch) I’m going to learn a multiple percussion solo entitled “Ritual” written by my friend, Cleveland composer Chas Vincent Smith who passed away this past week from several infections and complications from a bout with Hodgkin’s Disease when he was 18. Chas was 50. He was primarily a rock musician, but had two degrees in Composition, and we went to school together where he was a tremendous influence on a lot of us. He introduced me to the Berio “Sinfonia.” There’s a memorial at http://www.chastribute.com

  9. Steve Layton says:

    It’s not up officially on my site yet, but all you folks can get a sneak preview of the latest by streaming/downloading this:


    “Flashbulb N30″, where I set to music a bit of my friend Chris DeLaurenti’s field recordings, made during the anti-WTO riots in Seattle in November 1999 (an event I myself happened to stumble into, as I walked back from work that afternoon). Not much has been altered, just some cuts and shifts, as I set the sound a bit like the text of a song.

  10. Chris Becker says:

    A February 2008 installment of my ongoing collaborative work Thrown with choreographer Rachel Cohen. The piece combines clay, movement and music. The music will be performed live by myself on laptop, Helga Davis on vocals, Lewis ‘Flip’ Barnes on trumpet and Lynn Wright on electric guitar. We’re going to do this at The Space in Long Island City, NY. You can see some video from earlier installments at http://www.racoco.org/video.html.

    I’m also collaborating with Nobel prize winning chemist Roald Hoffman, neon artists Kenny Greenberg and Clare Dunn and choreographer Rachel Cohen on a piece that will premier in June here in NYC as part of the 2008 World Science Festival. Somehow, we are creating a work that explores the nature of light.

  11. Rob Deemer says:

    Front Burner: Flute choir for next year’s NFA convention, a brass quintet for the Oklahoma Brass Quintet, a textbook on film scoring and revamping the undergraduate composition curriculum here at SUNY-Fredonia (fun stuff!).

    Middle Burner: A song cycle and a wind ensemble transcription of my trombone concerto.

    Back Burner: Commissioned work for Tenor, Women’s Choir and Orchestra.

  12. I sent off the final score and parts for my piece for Relache last week, so that’s pretty much done. The performances will be November 30 and December 1, but the venues haven’t quite been nailed down yet. More as that develops.

    So now I’m looking for the next thing. I have a couple of videos in progress, somewhat like the video I did for “Pulse-Point,” and I may turn some attention to them. But in terms of what to compose, it’s time to start looking for the next performance opportunity. If anybody out there wants me to write for them, now’s your big chance :)

  13. Paul says:

    At the moment I’m composing a funeral song for my grandmother. She hasn’t passed away. She’s just planning the details of her funeral mass in advance. It will be a simple song for organist and vocal soloist based on Psalm 84:1.

  14. Brian Vlasak says:

    Front burner: violin duo. Next up: solo piano.

    Middle burner: a piece for an ensemble for mixed winds and percussion.

    Back burner: chamber opera (two leads, quartet of voices, 8 players)

    I’m surprised I never knew this place existed until just a short bit ago. Hi. I’m Brian. :-)

  15. I’ve been getting the score and parts ready for a piece I wrote last year but never polished score-wise, at the request of a chamber orchestra in Brazil, my 2nd nonet for woodwind quintet and string quartet. I emailed them a draft yesterday afternoon of both score and parts and they’ve already emailed me back that they ran through it and love it! That’s the kind of enthusiasm that I live for… ;) (Draft score is up, although wait til tomorrow if you’re curious – have a newer version coming I forgot to upload). Now I just have to proof and I’ll be getting back to both new electronic music and some solo piano pieces. Been practicing piano. It’s amazing how much easier writing piano music is when you have some decent chops.

  16. Jay Batzner says:

    I’m finishing up a video project and next up is a piece for flute and tape. On the mid burners is a piece for voice and computer and a piece for percussion and electronics. On the way back burner is a possible cello ensemble piece and a sax quartet.

  17. Heh. I’m actually behind with the We Are All Mozart project. The calendar didn’t fill, so I had to take on regular work, which pushed the schedule around. I’ve managed to finish 71 pieces since the beginning of the year, but overdue are a clarinet solo, two large chamber ensemble pieces, and a tenor guitar solo. Upcoming before the end of the month are a viola sonata and a piece for voice and percussion. After that, whatever comes in plus the sixteen pieces already on the calendar … then I’m outta 2007 and back to my regularly scheduled seclusion.


  18. Anthony Cornicello says:

    Front burner: Some pieces for Kathy Supove: the Interactive Piano. The first performance is at the VIM:Tribeca series in April.

    Back burner: “A Coney Island of the Mind”. Yes, I’m setting some of the Ferlighetti poems. First performance is in April (actually 2 days after the above pieces). The singer has only recently wondered aloud when he’s getting music – January seems like the realistic date. It’s for tenor, chamber group (sax, accordion, keyboards, bass, percussion) and electronics.

    Side burners (hey, my imagination has one of those fancy grills you see at Home Depot): translating a Max/MSP patch from Mac to PC (not as easy as they say in the manual), and working on the patches for a clarinet duo from earlier this year.

  19. Tom Myron says:

    I wrote arrangements for Rosanne Cash (2), Maxi Preist (1) & Phil Stacey (1) that were done this very evening at Carnegie Hall by the above-named artists with the NY Pops & the (amazing) Young People’s Chorus of NY.

    Now I’m writing a violin duet that Peter Sheppard-Skaerved & a friend of his will play in Copenhagen next month.

  20. Seth Gordon says:

    Mell – so sorry to hear about Smith. I didn’t know him personally, but man was he one tremendous talent. I remember around ’01 or so a friend suggested I check him out, so I picked up Nikko Wolverine and it quickly went into the “heavy rotation” pile for the better part of a year (as did An Hour Out of Desert Center later…) I always figured he’d be one of those composers who’d break out a bit and find an audience with the alterna-crowd – his appeal, I thought, was really cross-genre (or just genre-less?) – and would be as equal to fans of Ligeti as it would to fans of Fahey as it would to fans of Matmos and their ilk. What a terrible loss.


    Front burner: moving from Midtown to the LES. Finding a new pocket of the COTU to call my own. Most of the instruments are packed, so not doing much writing currently. Listening to a Japanese punk band that sounds an awful, awful lot like early Husker Du, except there’s two guitars. And the whole singing-in-Japanese thing.

    Slow-braising in the oven: Carbonnade of Elk. Looking forward to dinner.

  21. Seth, elk, yumm. Bring some up to Vermont. We didn’t even get venison last year, but maybe we’ll get a lucky chance to fill our freezer this winter.

    Don’t forget to pick up September’s “Lunar Cascade” — behind on October, of course.

    Tell your friends: Just five more commissions brings WAAM up to an even 100 … then I can take a deep breath and get horribly depressed starting January 1. :)


  22. Jerry Gerber says:

    I finished my 6th symphony for the virtual orchestra in August and then released my 9th CD. I then began a piece for sampled woodwinds which I finished a few weeks ago. I am very satisfied with both works. I then began a new short work for sampled brass. I am planning my 10th CD which, if it goes according to plan, which it often does, will contain seven short pieces for sampled “orchestral families” (probably should call them step-families as they are sampled!). I am also preparing a talk I was invited to give at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music next month on electronic music. That’s about it for now.

    San Francisco, CA
    October 29, 2007

  23. Seth, Sorry if I wasn’t clear. The Chas Smith who passed away was a Cleveland based composer/author/rock musician, not the composer who lives on the West Coast. The next thing you know, there will be two composers named John Adams…

  24. David MacIntyre says:

    Just finished the first draft of “Tom Pinkerton, the Ballad of Butterfly’s Son” an opera commissioned by Rumble Productions in Vancouver. It’s the narrative sequel to Madama Butterfly, 20 years later, and little boy Trouble has grown up and wants to know who he is and what happened to his mother. He returns to Japan to find Sharpless living in the house with the 999 year lease and Japan is building the first modern military industrial complex. The libretto is by Hiro Kanagawa, a fabulous playwright and actor in Vancouver. This project has taken up all four burners and the oven for the past year. It’s good to get the first draft done. The five day workshop goes up in early December – six principals, chorus and piano reduction. Happy times!

    And speaking of two composers with the same name: there’s me, David MacIntyre in Vancouver and there’s the composer David McIntyre living in Regina. Neither one of us wants to use our middle name, so… it’s only confusing on the radio.

  25. Daniel G. says:

    Writing a one minute orchestral fanfare. Hardest thing I’ve ever had to write. Packing everything you want to say efficiently, in one minute. Whew!

  26. Jeffrey Quick says:

    I did my undergrad with a trumpet player named Miles Davis. My girlfriend was all cranked about his degree recital, until I explained.

    Front burner: little ‘cello and piano piece due 1/15 for perf. in April
    Back burner: a piano quartet, a euphonium piece (I owe this guy, but I’ve decided I don’t want to write the piece I was going to write), an English anthem or two (almost all my sacred choral music is in Latin)