I often get questions about what inspired a specific work, or how I get inspiration for pieces in general. Do I start with a text and set it to music, or do I start with a musical idea and write text that fits the music? The answer, in my case, is that all of those things are fluid. Sometimes I set out to set a specific pre-existing text, like a proper composer. Many times, however, I am not proper- a surprise to no one. I often end up writing my own texts, which can come before the music, after the music…Read more
So much has happened in the last-- five years?-- since I've posted to this blog. There have been so many times that I've thought I should get back to it. There was the move back from Alabama to New Mexico, this time to the city of Albuquerque (side note: you haven't lived until you've just been chillin' outside at Downtown Java Joe's drinking your coffee, when you suddenly see the Bounder RV pull up and you're a stop on the Breaking Bad Tour). There was the descent into a global pandemic and the chilling…Read more
after you burn me down."
-Ingrid Michelson, "Fire"
Today is Ash Wednesday, the day that (as our minister claimed in this evening's sermon) at least one child has described as "the day all United Methodists begin their diets."
Ash Wednesday begins the journey of Lent, and is a time of putting aside all of those things that hold us back from the fullness of life. For many, that means a time of fasting from behaviors that separate us from God. For some, it is as simple as walking away…Read more
This is the thing I see most missing from our national discourse as of late. Compassion... and empathy. Each of us is so sure that we are right that we fail to put ourselves in the shoes of another person. We listen to respond, and in doing so never actually interact with what is being said. We make assumptions about the other person based on our own personal experience without giving a thought to the fact that not everyone has lived the same life as we have. We belittle, we malign, and we…Read more
It’s a classic tale of “one thing led to another.” Microphones were purchased. New audio interfaces were hooked up. New software, plugins, and sound pathways were examined. What began as an experiment to test what I could come up with from simple, one-instrument-and-voice renderings of songs from the past two years, to see how I could do recording and mixing them one at a time on my own, quickly moved to the idea of a short EP and ultimately to a full CD. I had long hoped to find an engineer to record a new…Read more
In June of last year, I had the privilege of participating in an “Earth Honoring Faith” Seminar at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, NM. The week consisted of interactive workshops that showed that Faith and honoring Creation are certainly not mutually exclusive (although I know there are many that would have you believe they are) and that encouraged participants to specifically think about lessons learned from the Desert. Along with my most excellent colleagues from the United Church of Santa Fe, I helped lead…Read more
When I first started dabbling in recorded media a few years ago, I was under the assumption that there is only one right “sound” for a recorded project and the recording engineer knows what that sound is. Further, said divine knowledge makes them able to magically produce a professional recorded sound that I could never reproduce on my own.
But then I was encouraged by a friend to really listen to recordings. There are many, many different sound aesthetics out there… how far out the vocals are from the rest…Read more
At last night’s Maundy Thursday service at the United Church of Santa Fe, an augmented version of the Sanctuary Choir premiered my newest piece, “No Greater Love.” This was a piece that got me up in the middle of the night to write the text and to write down the first four sonorities before putting it aside. I finally finished the piece months later, the Saturday before I needed to start rehearsing it with the choir. Sadly, this is an all-too-common occurrence.
An even sadder fact is that I was all set to…Read more
Through the wonders of social media, last week I saw a headline from The Spectator Magazine entitled “The mean bullying maestro is extinct- or should be.” The article by Peter Phillips (of Tallis Scholars fame) asserts that deplorable behavior from aggressive conductors indicates that they feel their extraordinary talent warrants said behavior “despite the fact that every musician knows they will perform better if they are encouraged rather than being shouted at. In this day and age, to have to play or sing…Read more
It was a normal day in Cyberland- Facebook was brimming with the typical bevy of cat pictures, George Takei posts, and half-baked political opinions. (Note: of these, I do love me some cats and George Takei. But I digress.) There was also a post (all names shall be omitted to protect the misguided) about this fabulous, young, new composer on the block that EVERYONE should hear. As a conductor who loves to program new things, I eagerly examined the work of this young whippersnapper. Only… in the first three…Read more
It takes a bold landscape to stand, exposed, as wind and rain have formed it. It is otherworldly, a “savage beauty,” something that has been shaped by weather, eruptions, and time. Of course I am talking about the strange and iconic landscape of Northern New Mexico, with its stretches of badlands and red rock country. There is no gradual ascent and sloping climb into the mountains, as it seems when one is traveling into the mountainous regions of the Southeast. Out here, vast stretches of flat land and…Read more
Looking back, I’m sure that most (sane) people would say that coming out to New Mexico was the zaniest thing I’ve ever done. It’s the question I get asked most: “What in the world brought you out here?” Okay, maybe it’s not asked QUITE that way, but that is usually the intent behind the question. Journeys are funny. You put one foot in front of the other, sometimes without being able to see what’s around the bend… and you just go. Because going feels like the right thing to do.
You are entering the Pecos…Read more