A lovely performance of my “Mabon, Song of the Autumn Equinox”, from “Wheel of the Year” by Orfeo Universitari in Castello, Spain.
This may be the coolest flash mob I’ve ever seen – Darth Vader on electric guitar conducting a Christmas flash mob at Algonquin College.
The choir note that “Lord Vader is not enrolled or on faculty at Algonquin.”
I’m currently busy on an SSATB a cappella composition with the working title of “Starlight”. No text for the piece as yet, but everything going well.
I should have some midi samples ready witihn a week or two, but it is Christmas, so things may slow down as eggnog making, gingerbread house construction, and building of various yummy salads all get in the way of things, as they tend to do at this time of the year.
In other news, I’m now a fully represented SOUNZ composer. They’ve received and approved my paperwork, so you’ll now start to be able to find my works at the SOUNZ website too, along with those of other New Zealand composers.
If you’re looking for new works to perform, go check out the website. It’s worth a look.
Sharing music at Christmas
Christmas is coming fast, and with it a fair number of performances of my works around the world. This week I was sent a copy of the flute line Mark at All Saints Edmonton in London has written for Mary Sings A Lullaby.
They’ll be performing his two voice plus flute arrangement of Mary on the 18th of December. I’ll be adding Mark’s score to this website with his permission, and to the Choral Public Domain Library, sometime fairly soon.
This is the beauty of Creative Commons release – it enables performers to add their own touches to the work, without fear of repercussion. It also provides new options for choirs and churches, free of charge, for their performances and services.
Copyright should end after 10 years
If I had my way, I’d make copyright end after 10 years. I think we need more free – and freely shared – music in the world. Right here, right now at Christmas, I am reminded how it is more important to give than to receive. Ten years would be enough for composers to earn fairly, then to share our music without fees attached.
After all, if we are able to write music it is not through anything we’ve done ourselves, but usually through lucky chance, and the gifts of others – music lessons as a child, music teachers who cared and worked hard themselves, mentors and friends, and others taking an interest in us, supporting us, and performing our music.
After ten years, I think it is high time to give something back.
Christmas performances – England, the USA and New Zealand
Just a quick mention of some more performances I’ve been contacted about recently.
Over in England, right near where my Dad grew up near Nottingham, Sing Christmas! is receiving another performance in the village of Burton Joyce, in the annual Christmas concerts there on the 17th and 19th.
And I was lucky to be able to attend a performance of Sing Christmas! here in my own home city of Dunedin, by the Southern Consort of Voices, performed at St. Paul’s Cathedral. It still feels off hearing my own works from my head, brought to life in front of me. I felt honoured and humbled to be present.
Another piece that received another outing recently was “Yule” from the Wheel of the Year. It was performed by the Timberlake High School Choir in Idaho on December 7th, which gave me an Idaho premiere – I’d never been performed there at all, to the best of my knowledge. I hope your concert went well over there!
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
It’s really starting to feel like Christmas here.
In the southern hemisphere, we have a summer Christmas instead of a winter one, but this time of year comes around, and I get all sentimental, reminded of trying to stay awake for Father Christmas hour after hour – and failing dismally! – as a kid.
Our Christmas tree is looking beautiful, with real bells on it that jingle when my children shake them. We have a star on top, and an assortment of home-made and collected decorations – everything from yoghurt pottles sprinkled with glitter glue and sparkle, made by my four year old daughter, through to hand-blown glass from Venice – a gift from my travelling parents.
It’s all equal in beauty to me, when it hangs on the tree – although maybe the handmade decorations by my kids come a little higher in importance
This is probably my last post for the year. With so much to do, there’s likely not much time to post again before 2012. So all I can say is, thanks to everyone who has been reading, thanks especially to the choirs and musicians who have been performing my music – and I hope everyone has a safe and happy Christmas and New Year.
Here’s the Calgary Phil and Chorus, tweeting ways to keep warm this Christmas, to Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana:
2011 has been a good year for me, composition-wise. So I thought I’d write about what happened, where I currently stand, and what my goals for 2012 are.
2011 – my first year apprenticeship!
Firstly, I’ve been accepted as a fully represented SOUNZ composer, which is wonderful news. More info on that to come: my forms have only just gone in.
To be a fully represented composer, I needed to have had 7 performances, plus international performances, prizes and recordings. I’ve done all that, thanks to so much support from people all around the world who have loved and shared my music, so everything I’m starting to achieve right now is due to you all, and your decisions to perform and record my music, as much as anything I’ve done.
Thanks in particular to RMIT Occasional Choral Society in Melbourne, Australia, and to Grupo Talliesin in Brazil, who have been there from the beginning. Both groups have been incredibly supportive not just of me, but of other aspiring musicians and composers. We need more awesome people like you in the world, willing to take a chance on those of us who are still building our name and credentials.
This year, I’ve written and published about a dozen pieces of music. I’ve had over 60 performances around the globe, more than one a week, and everywhere from Brazil to London to Pennsyvania to Shanghai!
Every performance I hear of is a thrill to me – it’s wonderful to know that my music is being performed and enjoyed around the world. It’s also very humbling to receive so many emails from so many lovely people.
Thankyou thankyou thankyou!
Some of the places I’ve been performed I’ve had to look up on Google, so it has been an education in other ways besides music, because I’ve learned more about where people live. Every city and town I’ve heard from I’ve looked up on Google Earth, and learned a bit more about it. The world really is a village now, and we can connect with one another through music.
When I began 2011, I thought of this year as my “first year of apprenticeship”, learning to write music as a composer.
There is so much to learn, and the more I learn, the more I realise I’ve a lot of growing to do. But I do feel like I’ve learned a huge amount, and that I am growing and developing my skills. Pieces are happening more quickly and naturally now, and the flow is easier.
Overall, I do feel like I’ve learned as much as any music student would have, by doing my own “private apprenticeship” at home.
If I can write music at home, anyone can. If you’re reading this, and you’ve ever wanted to write music, don’t let anyone or anything stop you. You can do it!
So let your music ring out and light the world up!
Goals for 2012
2012 will be my second year of my “apprenticeship”.
I’ll continue to study scores by the “Great Composers”: everything from Mozart to McCartney.
I’ve been starting to get more interested in the Russian dudes – Russian church music is so beautiful. And in early music. Plus anything from anywhere I happen to think is good. Lady Gaga, for instance, is a master of the ear worm, and I’m starting to take her music to pieces, and see how it operates: there really is a calculation and method to it all.
That’s the beauty of studying and learning by myself – I can pick and choose what I want to learn from! I don’t know of any course that compares Wagner to Gaga – but they should! The two have a lot of similarities in how they “hook” your ear, and it is interesting to compare methods and techniques in the writing styles.
Goals for 2012 include finishing a Christmas Song Cycle which I have already started. I’m planning for it to run between 15 and 20 minutes in length, and be set for full choir plus piano. As far as I know, no New Zealand composer has ever written anything like this, so I guess it’s up to me Yee haw!
That’s my major goal. I’m also planning to write a few solo pieces, and start writing instrumental works. A big part of the plans involves setting up a recording studio here at home, and organising a group of singers and instrumentalists to do some recordings. I just have to find some talented people who are interested.
Another goal is to try writing some children’s music. I’d like to write some nursery rhymes, and have had some ideas jotted down for a while now, but haven’t got around to filling them out. They’d be in unison with piano, with maybe a few simple splits here and there.
That’s probably enough for 2012. If I achieve all that I’ll be doing really well.
So here’s to a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
May 2012 be peaceful, joyful, and filled with music for everyone
My Christmas music is getting a number of performances around the world this Christmas, including locally here in New Zealand and in Dunedin.
I was contacted by Professor Caldwell of Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania earlier in the month, letting me know that my short work, Love Will Make The Roses Grow was to be performed by the Susquehanna University Women’s Choir on the 18th of November.
Auckland’s “The Three Mezzos Vocal Trio”, comprising accomplished singers Lynne Anderson, Margo Knightbridge and Barbara Lynch, performed the three voice version of my recent composition Mary Sings A Lullaby on November 20th in the Ballroom at Highwic in Epsom.
Also on the North Island, the Renaissance Singers in Hamilton performed Mary Sings a Lullaby, in four parts, on the 20th of November, together with Samhain, Beltane, Yule and Lammas from my Wheel of the Year song cycle.
“Mary” is getting a number of performances around the world – it has other scheduled performances for 2011 by choirs in England (London) and Canada, and possibly Hong Kong (China).
Probably the most exciting performance for me, though, is one by a local choir, Southern Consort of Voices. They’re a Dunedin-based chamber choir, and will be performing my 2010 piece Sing Christmas! in St. Paul’s Cathedral in the Octagon at their traditional lunchtime Christmas concert.
The concert is at 12:15 pm, tickets are $15 and $10. This concert is particularly exciting for me, because I get to hear my work performed live – usually I only get recordings, or word of mouth that the performance occurred!
The concert is also exciting because I used to sing in St. Paul’s Cathedral. Hearing my own music performed there by a local choir will be a real honour.
Here is the press release for the concert:
- This year’s Christmas concert on Friday, December 2nd, is to be held in the traditional venue, St Paul’s Cathedral at 12.15pm. But the programme is far from traditional, with a variety of works from the 20th century, including several New Zealand pieces.
The concert will begin with the energetic Noel by Roxburgh and the lilting Shepherd’s Carol by Bob Chilcott. These are followed by a couple of charming vignettes from John Ritchie and the warm and colourful Bless this Child from Christopher Marshall’s Triptych (No. 1). The title song, Sing Christmas, is by local composer, Leanne Veitch, and features playful rhythms and even a little percussion.
We allow ourselves a step back in time to sing three Marion pieces, notably Phillip’s beautifully-constructed renaissance motet, Hodie Beata Virgo, and two gorgeous Russian pieces, Dostoino Yest by Tchaikovsky and Bogoroditse Djevo by Rachmaninoff, from his Vespers.
We then finish with a flourish, tackling a couple of snappy Jazz numbers.
If you’re a Dunedinite, come along, and support a great choir, and get a chance to listen to some terrific music in a beautiful accoustic.
You won’t hear much from me here at this blog through November, as I’m busy writing a NaNoWriMo novel.
NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writers Month, is an international event that has been running every year since 1999. The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, starting on November 1st and completing it on or before November 30th.
Unlike most writing, the aim isn’t to be perfect, or to rewrite and plan, but simply to write, and get flow happening. Word Count is everything, quality is less important – although obviously if the novel turns out well that’s a bonus.
I first attempted NaNoWriMo in 2005, and the result was the novel EarthWitch. If you would like a copy, just comment on this post or ask me for an e-version.
This year, my novel is currently titled “Vortex” and, as I write this, I’m currently up to just under 20,000 words on day 11. It is set all around Dunedin and incorporates several key historical events in its storyline, as well as some events that happened to me. If you’d like to read it, click on the novel cover art image below:
So I’m pretty busy, writing away and attempting to meet my daily word target of around 1700 words, which is why I probably won’t get much composing done this month, unless a real writer’s block hits me!
See you in December.