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 alfred-music.com.

 

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!

 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Sales Statement 2013

I got my annual sales report from Alfred Publishing recently, in which they compile and break down sales of all my music for the year, from April through March, 2013. Unfortunately, sales were down a little bit from last year and the report showed some interesting trends.  Here are my top domestic sales of scores and parts in 2013:

1. Maharaja
2. Avatar
3. Gargoyles
4. Gauntlet
5. Agincourt

Avatar has been the top seller for the past few years and was unseated by Maharaja. I'm still surprised at the popularity of Maharaja but that piece was all over YouTube this year. Gargoyles edged ahead of Gauntlet for the first time in a while - both are usually in the top five and are very close, but Gauntlet is normally slightly more popular. In truth, Gargoyles sold one more copy than Gauntlet this year.

It's important to note that this report predates the release of Dragonfly and Across the Wind, my newest pieces. That means that the newest pieces on this report are Harrowland, which would have come in 7th, and Beale Street Strut, which would have come in a distant 8th.

Foreign sales are a different story. Sales abroad are usually much lower, because the system of music education is different outside the U.S. and many countries don't have group music instruction in schools. Here are the top five sellers of scores and parts outside the U.S.:

1. Harrowland
2. Beale Street Strut
3. Samba Del Sol
4. Sneaking Suspicion
5. Avatar, Gargoyles, Gauntlet, Maharaja, Porcupine Pantomime

A complete inverse of the Domestic Sales list! And a five-way tie for 5th place! I honestly don't know what to make of this, other than deducing that foreign orchestras gravitate toward the newer titles. Also, there are more minor-key pieces on the Foreign Sales list than usual. Usually, this list is full of major-key tunes.

Finally, I'll include a list of the top five selling scores. This is important because orchestras buy extra scores for the judges when they take a piece to contest. And when a piece is included on contest lists, that speaks to its long-term popularity and quality.

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

Gauntlet is the runaway winner in this race, selling more than Avatar and Gargoyles combined. All are popular, time-tested pieces (Agincourt being the newest), which makes sense on this list. I'd be shocked if something from the last three years showed up here, but I expect that Maharaja will work its way up this list in a few years.

I'd also like to give a shout-out to the handful of honest folks who went through the proper channels and paid licensing fees to copy, record, and re-arrange my music.

So sales were down in general, but I got some good data from the report. Hopefully, things will turn around next year with five new pieces in the works. Look for March of the Wood Elves, Winstride, Zuma Breakers, Pioneer Sky, and Woodpecker Cha Cha later this year. Also, my next report should include Dragonfly and Across the Wind, which I suspect will make a major impact.