Thursday, June 26, 2014

8-Bit Agincourt

Check out this amazing video - YouTuber StormWind programmed my piece Agincourt into an 8-bit music software program. The result sounds like a lost level in The Legend of Zelda.

I can't seem to embed the video, but click the image below for a link to YouTube. Please to enjoy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJcaRD5qKKs

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Online Concert Spring 2014

The school year is wrapping up and that means lots of Spring concerts!  Let's have a look at some really good recent performances from YouTube.

Up first is the James Bowie High School Sinfonia Orchestra of Arlington, Texas performing Avatar.  They have a very precise and articulate sense of rhythm, their intonation is really good and, best of all, they do some really interesting things with dynamics. Please enjoy:


Up next is the Prelude Chamber Strings performing Across the Wind. They do a fantastic job navigating the corners and emotional changes and technical demands of the piece.


Next is a rousing performance of Dragonfly, performed by the Marina High School Orchestra. Very precise ensemble playing. Nice job.


Finally, here's a slightly older video of the ISTA Honor Orchestra in Iowa and their intense performance of Agincourt.  I appreciate the musicality and the dynamics. The intonation is good and they finish strong. Nice job, ISTA orchestra!



A quick note to YouTube posters: There are lots of videos that I'd love to feature on this blog but I can't embed them if you don't check that box on the upload page. Please make your concert videos sharable!  Also, if you could include more info about the location, conductor, and date of the performance when you write out the video's info, that's nice to know too.  Thanks!

Monday, March 24, 2014

New Recordings Available: 2014

Alfred Publishing recently posted new recordings of this year's new music and, as usual, they're spectacular. The sheet music isn't ready just yet, but you can listen online for free and you can buy each song for just $.99 USD.

This year, all three pieces are written for the beginner end of the spectrum, mostly for intermediate and late beginners.

March of the Wood Elves: The pizzicato pulse and sly melody set up the imagery of rows of tiny soldiers marching across the forest floor. The music builds and breaks into a rustic dance before returning to the regimented, military rhythms and quietly stomping into the distance.
Listen here

Winstride: This is a sunny, optimistic piece that offers beginners some fun counting challenges. The middle section goes into a minor key and includes some call-and-response before returning to the main theme.
Listen here

Zuma Breakers: Named for a popular Southern California surf spot, this piece is a rollicking tribute to the surf rock scene of the 1960's and artists like Dick Dale, The Ventures, and Jan and Dean. Everyone gets a shot at the fun melodies and this piece would make the perfect encore at your next concert!
Listen here

 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Oscar Post-Mortem 2014

I had my best Oscar Night ever, correctly picking 19 out of 21 categories! That's 90.5% - so much for all the hype over "the closest races in years." Here's a list of winners, with my correct picks in bold:

Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave
Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Best Lead Actor: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyer's Club
Best Lead Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyer's Club
Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave
Best Original Screenplay: Her
Best Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years a Slave
Best Cinematography: Gravity
Best Film Editing: Gravity
Best Sound Mixing: Gravity
Best Sound Effects Editing: Gravity
Best Score: Gravity
Best Song: "Let it Go," Frozen
Best Art Direction: The Great Gatsby
Best Makeup: Dallas Buyer's Club
Best Costumes: The Great Gatsby
Best Animated Feature: Frozen
Best Foreign Language Film: The Great Beauty, Italy
Best Documentary Feature: 20 Feet From Stardom

I thought the show was really fun, but, as always, I could do without the montages. Ellen was a great host and kept things light. She seems to be bulletproof in a thankless and often-criticized role and I hope she gets asked back again. 

I can't imagine that I'll do better at my picks next year, but there's a little room for improvement. For now, it's back to the music!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Oscar Predictions 2014

It's Oscar season again and it's time to make my picks. There are some really close races this year and a few others that are shoo-ins. Some leaders have emerged and other big races are still up in the air. It should be interesting. Here are my predictions:

Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave
Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Best Lead Actor: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyer's Club
Best Lead Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyer's Club
Best Supporting Actress: Lupita N'yongo, 12 Years a Slave
Best Original Screenplay: Her
Best Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years a Slave
Best Cinematography: Gravity
Best Film Editing: Gravity
Best Sound Mixing: Gravity
Best Sound Effects Editing: Gravity
Best Score: Gravity
Best Song: "Let it Go," Frozen
Best Art Direction: The Great Gatsby
Best Makeup: Dallas Buyer's Club
Best Costumes: American Hustle
Best Animated Feature: Frozen
Best Foreign Language Film: The Great Beauty, Italy
Best Documentary Feature: The Act of Killing

As usual, I don't get to see the Short Film nominees, so I don't pick those.

The top three contenders this year are 12 Years a Slave, Gravity and American Hustle and, as you can see, I've picked Gravity to take 6 categories, but not Best Picture. It will likely sweep the technical categories and be recognized for its direction, but I suspect that 12 Years a Slave will edge it out for Best Picture. It's unusual for the Best Picture not to get the highest number of Oscars, Best Director, or the Film Editing Oscar, but that's how I see it going this year.

The big story is the emergence of Dallas Buyer's Club in the acting races. McConaughey and Leto have been picking up prizes all award season and are expected to finish big, overshadowing higher-profile performances from Chiwetel Ejiofor and Bradley Cooper.

I'll be watching on Sunday, March 2nd and hope you will too. The official pre-show begins at 7pm EST on CBS but E! will be broadcasting arrivals all day long. It should be an exciting show and I hope to match or beat last year's 76% success rate.  Enjoy the show!