Friday, August 30, 2013

What should the audience expect?

 This is what I have visualized for happening the last half of my night of music on Sep. 12 as part of the Black Lab New Music Festival.   As mentioned before, a fabulous new quintet is on the upfront.

If you are familiar with the layout of the Paragraph Space then hopefully you'll notice that one of these pictures doesn't have the massive pillar that should be there.

No those are not ninja turtles, they are blindfolds.  I am asking people to give up one sense so they can focus on other, little used ones.   And to drop boundaries for a moment, to hear what we can feel.

Sorry for the perpendicularity...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Shifting of Gears

For the first part of my night of music for the upcoming Black Lab New Music Festival on Thursday Sep. 12 I am offering a realignment of the Phonologotronic.

I am pleased to bring Nick Howell (trumpet), Jason Smith (drums), and Lane Garner (guitar) into the fold on.  The Future Dr. is still with us, laying down the low-end. We are now a quintet and I will focus more on alto.  I have dug through my vaults to bring forth a wide array of musics.  From 2 of my oldest tunes to a couple birthed specifically for this instrumentation, I am excited about the debut performance of this band.  

For the second half of my performance night Brad Van Wick and I are going to conduct an experiment upon any willing volunteers in the audience as we perform as Mnemosyne Duo.  There will be at least 3 ways you can participate in the "experimence" (a portmanteau of experience and experiment), More to come as I get details hammered out with all of the special guests.  

If you are adventuresome and willing to talk a bit about what you experience to us please come and help us figure out some physio-psycho-electro-acoustic-magic.  

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Dark Price: the video!!

Recently, through my work with the Black House Collective, I participated in the premiere of 6 short operas as part of the Rites of Being project.  I was the composer and half-librettist for one of those operas.  Here it is for your enjoyment.

I must say that it was an absolute joy to make this project come to life and cannot express enough gratitude to all of those who played a role in this production.

At some point I plan on revisiting this work and turning it into a stand alone 90 minute to 2 hour work.  Trust me, there is plenty more of the story in my head that you don't see here.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Dark Price

We are officially one week away from the premiers of 6 (count them 6!!!!) new opera scenes from some great composers.  

I have had a blast working with the singers for my scene.  They have all been such pros and have offered exactly the kinds of feedback and collaborative energy I was hoping for going into this project.  They have broken down my long-standing aversion and really helped me realize the difference between vocal writing and instrumental writing.   Plus which, I got some great composition and technology lessons out of the whole writing process.  Now I know how to make piano music look like piano music!!  Its really kind of embarrassing how much of a revelation the piano lesson was.  

Anyway, dear readers.  Please do yourself a favor, come out and support BRAND SPANKING NEW MUSIC here in KC.  Let's put a dent in the cultural map that people won't want to buff out.  

Friday, April 19, 2013


This is one of those non-music ones.

All I can say is wow.  The swiftness, the voracious velocity with which this stream of events has unfolded through our lives is breathtaking.  Even more so than 9/11 the bombings on Monday seem to have places a mark on the permanent record that is both indelible and already evolving across multiple platforms of thought and experience.

My heart goes out to all the people affected by this senseless act of hate.  I cannot begin to imagine what life will be like for you from now on.  The first responders, the immense focus brought to bear on those two young men, thank you.  The man in the cowboy hat; the "only his first name, Jeff" that victims have wanted to say the most heartfelt of thanks to; all of the countless hundred you can see on videos running towards the danger make me weep for humanity is more good than evil.  It tells me that being cynical is really a waste of your precious time and energy.  Sure, you can cause destruction so much faster than you can create and build, but to what end?

There has been for sometime in this world a spiritual imbalance.  So many of us are simply turned off to the idea that there is something beyond being a sensual hedonist in contemporary existence.  I think I might even have been turned off at certain point in my life.  While watching the people running towards though, it comforts me to know that yes.  There is something much greater and more precious than the  vaunted individual and its biological imperatives.  And I should pay more attention.

I also again see instances of just how deranged a human thought process can become.  These two young men, (at the time of this writing I guess just one now, if they take him alive) have obviously developed some very not-like-mine thought process and rationalization for their behavior.  The brain is such a plastic thing, and with a little practice you can turn it into a marvelous thing.  But if you practice the wrong way though, you get results like Monday's tragedy.

Can we all just take a moment to breathe in the bad, transform it within ourselves, and exhale the good.

Friday, April 12, 2013


Hours and hours of sweat and concentration.  I still have 80 measures or so left to transcribe vocal rhythms into.  Thankfully I am not in the act of creating permanent pitch content just yet, as the singers have been requested to come up with their own vocal lines based on the harmonies the band provides and their own experiences from past operas and roles they have filled.

Last sunday we had a read through with the singers doing their level best and I couldn't have been more pleased.  I am looking forward to the anticipation that will start to creep in as the performance date draws nearer and nearer.  Here's a shoutout to Alison Heryer who is going to be designing the costumes for all of our scenes.  She has some very great ideas on how to use the space.

I have dallied too long, I must complete these parts.   So I leave you with this, because I've been listening to more and more of his music lately.

Despite this piece's elegiac reputation, I find it to be some of the most significant counterpoint I have ever listened to in terms of influencing how I work out my ideas.  You should also check out his Essay for Orchestra Nos. 1 and 2.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Soma Athenaton

I made something with a friend of mine a week ago.  It was a powerful sonic experience for all involved.  To be there in the Medieval Cloister at the Nelson-Atkins, it was wonderful.  Such great overtones and reverberations.  We reveled in our patience.

Please enjoy. 

Mnemosyne will do more performances in the future.   Please stay tuned.

Monday, March 25, 2013


Here is video footage of our performance at the Nelson Atkins Museum a few weeks ago.


Chaconne for the Death of Love

If you are wondering about what Plastic Sax is talking about, please Click here   or  here

Monday, March 18, 2013

Full Rehearsal the First

Yesterday/s rehearsal was a blast.  Seeing the singers stand up and do their thing was much fun to experience.  I can feel the long standing "insitutionalized aversion" I was educated to have regarding singers starting to melt away.   There really is something to this opera stuff.  Everyone participating, everyone working together.

I stayed up until 2 last night working on edits I got from the read through yesterday.    Probably I will be doing the same thing tonight.   Such is life.  

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Black House Collective's Ancient Inspiration concert at the Nelson-Atkins in collaboration with their Innovation Lab was a success.  Through its duration there were well over 200 people who meandered through or stopped to listen to the whole concert.

All of the composers this time around need congratulations for their stellar work.  Each piece was sounding it's best.  I was pleasantly surprised with how the room, a daunting hard-angled hard-surface box of stone with a barrel vault for a ceiling, actually helped each of the individual parts be heard.  3 and a 1/2 seconds of reverb can be a tricky thing, but all the human bodies in there helped soak it up and make for a nice, lush sound.

I am also excited because the Nelson had professional videographers taking shots of the whole event.  That will be a nice takeaway to use in all of our portfolios.

If you missed the concert, you get ONE MORE CHANCE to come and see all of this amazing work happen.  Here's the event.  This one has free beer if that is a good motivator for you.

Look forward to seeing you all there.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Importance of details.

     I just spent a good 90 minutes editing little detail on the parts for my piece Chaconne for the Death of Love that will be premiered at the Nelson-Atkins Museum on March 3 as part of the Black House Collective's performance Ancient Inspiration.   It will performed again on the following friday as part of the Charlotte Street Foundation's Urban Culture Project Open Studios.   I highly encourage you to come to one or both of the performance's of this installment of our workshop.  It is easily the largest and strongest band we've had to date.  The compositions are all working out quite nicely as well.  

     I have taken a member of the collective's advice and worked on the visual layout of their parts. By making it easier to visually decipher the music should feel more relaxed and lessed stressed by the feeling of effort needed to decode all the information on the page.   I finally figured out some valuable tools in my software as a result.  Multimeasure rests are no longer fiendish things that play havoc when extracting to individual parts.  Hooray for the small victories.  

I am looking forward to having the premiere of my work especially as it represents a significant number of changes to my life and is the direct outcome of those experiences.  To have it performed will give a good sense finality to this most recent chapter in my life as well as a new starting point from which to go forward.  

Once again, please join us.  It promises to be memorable.  

Friday, February 1, 2013


This is the recording that Hunter got from the first read through of the piece a couple of weeks ago.  You can hear me singing.  It's become much better since.  With re-orchestrations and reworking of the parts. But, here it is for you to hear the process.  This was satisfying to hear come to life for the first time.  It convinced me that me ears aren't to off.  It is probably the most beautiful thing I've ever written.   We only recorded the first 1/3 of the piece.  You can hear me talking to the musicians about rehearsal things towards the end of the recording.

Again, look for a much more polished performance on March 2 at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and then again the next Friday at the Charlotte Street Urban Culture Project Studio Residency Open Studios Event.

Now I have to write opera.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


My life has undergone some radical changes in the past 4 months.  Needless to say the adjustment process that we all go through is tough, but hopefully I will have managed to come out of this period with a stronger understanding of who I really am and what my music is all about.

The newest session of Black House Collective promises to be the strongest ensemble and music that we've ever put together.  3 clarinets!!  a dedicated soprano saxophone, an alto, 2 tenors.  3 trumpets of which 2 are lead players!!!  3 bones and a bass bone!!!  piano drums bass!!!

its been fun.  And to top it off we get to premier this music at the Nelson Atkins museum, in their classical antiquity collection.

My piece is loosely inspired by the story of Horus, god of the sky and an important deity in ancient Egypt.  The museum has two remarkable different Horus's and I liked the idea that the same god changes within the lifetime of a civilization.  I mean, Egypt was Egypt for close to 2000 years right?  So this thought led me through a brief tour of teh internets under search term horus.  Lots of great stuff. I think my favorite part was learning also about Horus' mother Isis, and his father Osiris, by whom he was posthumously conceived as Isis took her brother-hubby's dismembered member did the deed solo.  After he is born a short time later Horus learns that daddy's brother Set killed him, Hamlet style I guess, cause now Set sits on dads throne and has his hand in mom's lap.  Anyway, centuries of conflict later horus eventually wins.

So, in summary.  My uncle killed my father to be with my mother, who was also my father's sister so she's also my aunt, and my uncle's sister to boot!  Such tortuous heartbreak eventually led me to the piece, which is entitled Chaconne for Past Love.    I hope you, dear internet bystander would come and join us this March at the Nelson or a week later at the annual Charlotte Street Urban Culture Project's Studio Residency Open Studios event at Paragraph Space and Town Pavillion.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


All I can say is that the working title is Nemesis.  I am about start official conscious work on the piece.  The ensemble has added another trombone, bringing me to 4 to contend with.  Updates will come with more frequency in the future.   Here we go, boldly.