While I was in Ireland a week ago, I had the honor of speaking to composition students at the Dublin Institute of Technology Conservatory of Music & Theatre. It was a great chance to spend two hours talking about myself…

“It’s kind of odd making a powerpoint presentation about yourself,” I opened to absolutely no laughs or even smiles.

I guess starting off with a joke didn’t work afterall. It really was an honor though. It was fun to tell my story and how I approach composing. I’m always interested in how others work and (perhaps selfishly) I enjoyed discussing the music that I’ve been so lucky to write.

I presented a number of different pieces, including my masters thesis, First Flight. At approximately 13 minutes in length, First Flight was my first successful wind ensemble work. And at 13 minutes in length, it was 47 minutes shorter than the theses written by everyone sitting in front of me. “We have a requirement of at least one hour of music.”

One hour of music. That’s four times the size of my thesis. So that should mean 60 minutes of intelligent, artistic and quality music, right? This lead me to the question, does size really matter?

Ok, well if you know me you know I love Mahler. He’s the king of long-winded composition. Even when I speak of my love for Mahler, I think of specific moments I love. In the monumental 3rd symphony (being honest here), I love the final movement. That’s 30 minutes, not an hour, I could care less about the “bing, bong” part. I love all of the 10th Symphony, but technically the Adagio was the only movement finished. Ok ok ok, I love the 9th Symphony. The opening is so lush and by the time you get to the end it’s just so magical…by the time you get to the end.

Ok, let’s put Mahler to the side for a moment. What music do I love that takes at least 60 minutes to get through? Planets? Wagner? Symphonies? Daphnis & Chloe? No, I love the moments more: Jupiter, finale of Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5 and obviously Lever le jour, obviously. I would say an opera or musical doesn’t count in this instance because there are so many small sections that make up the whole.

Now some of you will say, “Well Tim, it takes going through the full hour long piece to recognize the importance of the moments.” Yes, you’re right. I think, or are you?

Let’s avoid discussion of how we’re “all ADHD” and can’t focus for an hour of music. My question is should we?

Remember that the requirement is for the composition to be at least 60 minutes in length. Can a composer write a concise and fully intelligent piece in 60 minutes? Yes, we have seen it in the past, (there are many great long works) but can the composer do it without meandering all over the place? Do composers need to be boasting about how big their composition is, or should we celebrate the ones with less girth that get the job done?

By Tim Corpus

Tim earned his bachelor of music degree in percussion performance from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, where he studied with composer Stacy Garrop and timpanist Ed Harrison of Chicago’s Lyric Opera. Tim earned a master of music degree in music composition at The Hartt School at the University of Hartford. During his time at The Hartt School, he studied with world-renowned composers such as David Macbride, Larry Alan Smith, Robert Carl and Stephen Gryc. As a percussionist and timpanist, Tim has performed with ensembles throughout the United States including the Chicago Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, Lakeshore Symphony, and the American Opera Group. He has also conducted groups from Roosevelt University and the American Chamber Opera. Along with talent scholarships from the Chicago College of Performing Arts and The Hartt School, he has received other awards including the ASCAP Plus Award and a research grant in 2011 toward his work on Filipino composer Lucio D. San Pedro. Other grants have been awarded from the Illinois Arts Council and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. In 2013, Tim was awarded an endorsement from the Vic Firth Education Team for his work as a percussion teacher. Not only does Tim love writing and playing music, but he also enjoys sharing his passion with aspiring musicians and composers. Since 2005 Tim has been teaching music to a wide range of students (age 4 to adult). In addition to demonstrating master classes in percussion, orchestration and drum set, he has taught percussion at high schools and music curricula as Adjunct Faculty for Chicago City Colleges. He also taught at Capital Preparatory Magnet School in West Hartford, Connecticut, which is ranked as one of the best schools in America. Currently, Tim is Drumline Instructor at Loyola University Chicago. Tim is an internationally performed composer and has written for a variety of ensembles including works for the Palomar Ensemble, Roosevelt University, Loyola University, Concorde Ensemble, Vox Novus and the Yorkville Fine Arts Festival. Highlights include “Breath, revisited” for Third Coast Percussion at the Kennedy Center and Museum of Modern art in New York City. Tim is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, the Percussive Arts Society and his works are published by Attacca Publishing.