"Pedestals" begins

November 16, 2017

Hello! This site will serve as the website for a large-scale new work I am developing and a blog where I write about and document my (hopeful) progress. In short, I received a grant from the University of South Carolina to create a concert-length BIG piece for wind ensemble, playback, and film to be premiered in Spring, 2019. The film portion (and some of the audio playback) will come from the University of South Carolina's wonderful Moving Image Research Collection (hence known as MIRC...). There are thousands of films from across the country and world depicting arts, culture, politics, geography, sports, world events, etc. I am not quite sure yet which footage I will be drawing on and I am excited to begin the researching process.

 

In the coming blog posts I will be documenting my compositional path, from the early stages of research to posting a final recording of the premiere performance. Over the next year and a half or so, I hope to complete this large-scale work and at the same time experiment  with a new way of engaging an audience through documenting the process, which, in my opinion, is too often left out of artistic discourse. Normally an idea or commission is initiated, the composer goes off into a cave, and then some months or years later the composer emerges with a fresh score in hand. Im very interested in process, so I am excited to share mine with whoever might want to follow the work.

 

The timeline for the creation of this work is as follows: (1) in Fall, 2017 (NOW!) I will be researching for the piece, mainly spending time in the MIRC getting to know the collection and sorting out my themes and material for the piece, (2) in Spring, 2018 I will do the bulk of the composing and audio and video editing for the work, (3) in Summer, 2018 I will not do much because I will be the father of two new babies (YEAH TWINS...), (4) in Fall, 2018 I will refine my score and electronics, edit, make parts, and have one or two readings of the work with the USC wind ensemble, and finally (5) in Spring, 2019 I will finish edits and revisions and deliver the final score and parts to the ensemble for a premiere date to be determined in during that semester. Phew...

 

Exactly what this piece will be about, what the films will be, what the musical language and material will be, I do not know. I do know that the piece will focus around Southern history, culture, and music. For quite a while now I have been composing, researching, and experimenting with ideas and themes coming from the American South, especially Appalachia. My recent CD release Dark Holler features movements based on important (to me) historical recordings of Southern roots music from Virginia to Texas. My recent work for string quartet, electronics, and video titled Tangled Roots (South Carolina, 1939) explored through sound and pictures the complex and tangled histories of music in the South, but really making a statement that Southern music is African-American music. There is no separation. Some of my other work has been on the history of African-American banjo playing in the US and the Caribbean. 

 

For now, based on my interests, my compositional experience, my desire to participate in an important, urgent, and relevant societal discussion, I think my focus will be around 'Monuments,' the Civil War, and Southern history, music, and culture. I hope to draw attention to this debate and encourage discussion. As I write, I sit a few blocks from the South Carolina state capitol where there are multiple confederate monuments and only a couple years ago the confederate flag flew. I attended a rally for the removal of the confederate monuments in September and witnessed three young men standing at the top of the courthouse holding confederate flags. That sight and experience, coupled with the tragic events in Charlottesville, VA, have really stuck with me and I feel I need to devote this large new work to these issues. 

 

This is the first of many posts about this new work. Stay in touch for the next installment!

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