Thursday, January 29, 2015

Conducting at IMEA

You guys!  I had such an amazing time on January 16th at the Indiana Music Educators Conference in Ft. Wayne! I cunducted an "open rehearsal" of three of my pieces - Avatar, Winstride and Gauntlet - and answered questions from teachers.

Johanna Marvin and her Riverside Middle School Orchestra rehearsed the music ahead of time, but we had never met in person before that day. They did such a great job and I think everyone had a good time.

I also got to meet orchestra teachers from around Indiana and participate in a reading session of new music , which was a blast. So how did they get me to come to the event? They asked. It was that simple. I usually charge a nominal fee and ask for expenses to be paid, but other than that, it's pretty straightforward.

Then I had to rush home because on the afternoon of the 17th, the OMEA District XIV Honors Orchestra performed their concert, which featured the world premiere of Victory At Home - a new piece they commissioned me to write.

It was a full weekend and one that I won't soon forget!  Thanks to Johanna Marvin, the IMEA, the ASTA, the OMEA and all the students of the Riverside Middle School Orchestra for being so great.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Online Concert Winter 2014

A quick announcement first: I'll be giving a presentation at the Indiana Music Educators Association conference in Ft. Wayne on January 16th, 2015. I'm going to lead an open rehearsal of three of my pieces - Avatar, Winstride and Gauntlet. Bring your scores to follow along, think of questions to ask me afterwards and listen to me show a talented group of young musicians how I like to hear my music performed!

On with the main event: Halloween concerts are done and it's Holiday concert time here in the States - and that means a bunch of new concert videos have popped up on YouTube. Let's have a look at a few of the really good ones:

Up first is the Vivace Advanced Orchestra killing it with Pioneer Sky at the Central Indiana All-Region middle School Orchestra Festival. They perform some nice dynamics and give the piece the right energy - bristling accents in the ostinatos, soulful legato in the lyrical parts. Nice job!

Next, the Mansfield Youth Strings of Mansfield, Ohio open their concert with North Pole Workshop, complete with percussion parts!  Fantastic tempo, nice precise playing and good style. I hope this one catches on. Great job, MYS!

Up next, Angie Cimbalo leads the Region 24 Sinfonia Orchestra at the Middle School Texas Music Educators Association All-Region Concert with a furious performance of Dragonfly. This is a piece that requires intense focus and these young musicians are right up to the task all the way through the end, never letting up. An arranger did a really great job with the harp parts as well - writing for harp is one of my favorite things to do but I seldom do it because so few school orchestras have harp players. But it really works well in this setting and it makes me wish I'd written that part myself. It's a fantastic performance.

Finally, the Olentangy Orange Middle School 7th Grade Orchestra performs Gauntlet. It's a good performance made all the more special by some awesome rock star stage lighting. Excellent tempo, nice expression, and they stick the landing beautifully. Nicely done!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Sales Statement 2014

The good folks at Alfred Publishing got a jump start on their end-of-year schedule and surprised me this week with my 2014 sales statements! Every year, they send me a list how many pieces of music I sold in different formats (score and parts, score alone, parts alone, digital downloads, MakeMusic files, etc.) And every year I sort through it and see which are my top sellers of the year. So here are my top five folios of scores and parts from April 2013 through March 2014 (domestic):

1. Dragonfly
2. Across the Wind
3. Gauntlet
4. Gargoyles
5. Avatar

Nice! The two newest pieces came out on top, followed by my two all-time classics. Gauntlet and Gargoyles have consistently been in the top five since they were first released nearly 15 years ago. I'm happy to see so much enthusiasm for Dragonfly and Across the Wind as well!  Avatar dropped a little this year, but, shockingly, it remains in the top five - most likely bolstered by people who mistake it for the theme to James Cameron's movie (for the record, my piece was published four years before his movie came out). In my opinion, Cameron can't release Avatar 2 fast enough.

That was sales inside the US - now for the top-selling scores and parts in foreign markets:

1. Dragonfly
2. Gargoyles
3. Beale Street Strut
4. Samba del Sol
5. Across the Wind & Avatar (tie)

Interesting!  I can't remember when there's been this much crossover between the two lists. Usually the top foreign sellers are a completely different set of titles, but there are four names in common this year! I'm most surprised to see Beale Street Strut on this list - it's a jazzy piece and I just figured it would be too American to appeal outside our borders.

Here's the list of top-selling scores:

1. Gauntlet
2. Gargoyles
3. Avatar
4. Las Mariposas Exoticas
5. Agincourt

Teachers buy extra scores for the judges when they take their orchestras to contest and all of these pieces are popular contest pieces. I'm most happy that Agincourt getting on more and more lists.

Finally, something relatively new on the sales report is a list of print licensing and mechanical fees. When a group records a piece of music or makes photocopies for extra parts, they're supposed to notify the publisher. So thank you to all the honest directors out there who did what they're supposed to do.

This list also includes the number of digital downloads, so I'd like to remind everyone that you can listen to and download fantastic professional recordings of my works at


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:

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!