Monday, July 28, 2008

Working Hard

Aside from a new round of revisions on my opera, I've started a new piece for school-level orchestra. Just like my publishers try to select a balanced catalog every year, I try to submit a balanced portfolio (thus increasing my chances of having more music selected). I usually send eight to ten new pieces every year,so once I've completed a few, it's a good idea to take a look back at what I've done and figure out what I need to write to balance things out.

The easiest way is to plot it out on a graph (yes, kids, graphs come in handy in the real world). On the X axis is style: Major Key, Minor Key, and Novelty Piece. On the Y axis: Beginner level, Intermediate, and Advanced.

Check marks in the boxes let me know that I'm lacking an Advanced/Minor Key piece and that a few Novelty pieces would round out the portfolio. So the new one I started this weekend is an advanced-level piece in c-minor, focusing on accidentals. As it's developing, I can tell that it will be different - Instead of an A-theme and B theme, etc. I think I'm going to let it develop organically like a theme-and-variations. At least that's the plan for now. So far I'm just 16 measures in.

As for the opera, I'm waiting for some books I've ordered from the library on vocal composition. I do realize that it would have been a great idea to study up BEFORE writing a massive three-act 100-minute opera, but hey, it's a learning experience. In other news, my pros showed the piano score and libretto to a big-time, well-connected opera singer and word is that she was excited by it. Fingers are still crossed!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Getting Nervous

I always get a little nervous around this time of year. Each May I send music to my editors at Alfred Publishing and wait out the summer for a response. They always respond around mid-July to early August and around that time I always worry. I understand that how many they accept depends upon their needs for the year, submissions by other composers, and the need for a well-balanced catalog. This year, I figure they'll be a little later than usual - the Alfred HQ is in southern California and I suspect that dealing with the wildfires is taking priority over formalizing the catalog.

The very first year I submitted I learned about the acceptance on my birthday and, since they always let me know around the same time, I always call their notification letter the best birthday gift of the year. Here's hoping it will be a good birthday this year!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Great Meeting!

I'm stoked after a great meeting with the pros! It didn't go exactly how I had expected - I thought we'd play through the piano score and I could get some suggestions on vocal writing while discussing my philosophy on modern opera - but instead, the pros (Howard and Brad) gave me something far more valuable: encouragement.

We had a seat in their gorgeous home and discussed options for getting a production - about three steps ahead of where I thought I was with this project. They liked the libretto and they agreed that the tesseturas were in the right places, they had praise for the sense of rhythm and character and had some wonderful suggestions for vocal writing, but they were more excited to let me know about workshops, contacts, venues, and how to get a performance. In the end, Howard and Brad agreed to show my piano score and libretto around to some influential people.

My fingers are crossed and I remain cautiously optimistic. These are the first people to actually read through the libretto without giving up at page 20, which is very heartening, but even more, they really seemed to be excited by the material. Another bonus: no opera hostility. They were excited for me, which is a reaction I've been awaiting for a long time.

We'll see where it goes from here, but in the mean time, I'm making a new recording from my computer and am busy making revisions based on Howard and Brad's suggestions.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Opera Developments

Things are progressing. Maybe.

Last week I finished a new round of revisions to make my opera more singable and then reduced the new score down to a piano part. Just as I was finishing that, one of the "pros" I've been in talks with became available to look at what I've done! This pro is a friend of a friend who is a choir director. Even better, a friend of this friend of my friend is a college opera faculty member and is also eager to look at it and help with the polish. Better still, the friend of a friend of my friend has serious connections and mentioned showing it to some big-time opera-world muckey-mucks.

I know what you're thinking and I totally agree. This road looks awfully familiar and it's hard not to get excited when everything appears to be clicking into place. We'll see how it goes - I'm staying wary, keeping my expectations low, and am taking things one step at a time. Right now we're parsing out the details of when and where to meet, but it looks like next week is likely. Hopefully, I'll have good news to report.