Releasing a new piece of music into the wild makes me apprehensive. It means giving up the control, the last-minute tweaking, the obsessing over how that phrase ends or the other one begins. Even though I compose something pretty much every day, it’s always an emotional investment to declare that a piece is finished, because I care about the outcome. I’m always attached to the success or failure to follow, even if I tell myself I shouldn’t be, or don’t need to be. So when I send a new piece to anyone who will see it or hear it for the first time, the questions crowd into the room:
Will my new score survive?
Will someone adopt it and care for it as their own?
Will it make its own way?
Or will it return home to hibernate in the basement, play video games, and eat pizza for way longer than is socially acceptable?
Usually the answer takes forever to get back.
PART 1 – In Which David Decides To Let Go
And so, feeling protective, and with some trepidation, I sent my new Flame and Shadow score all the way to Washington, D.C. as my entry to the Six Degree Singers 2015 Young Composers Competition. Six Degree Singers is a community choir of about 35 young adult performers in the D.C. area, and I discovered their competition online. Ages 18-40, check. Any nationality, check. There were other rules, too. And I applied.
And then, much later, I got some stunning news:
Flame and Shadow won the competition!
Six Degree Singers will première Flame and Shadow at choral concerts in the D.C.-metro area on May 30 and 31, 2015, under the direction of Rachel Carlson. The performances will be recorded as well.
Thank you very much, Six Degree Singers! I’m honored, I’m grateful, and I look forward to hearing your voices. Maybe I’ll get the chance to visit you in person?
Flame and Shadow is an SATB setting of Sara Teasdale’s poem, “Stars”. You can read more about it and see the score right here.
PART 2 – In Which The Music Goes To Europe
This month, I also discovered that my Panis Angelicus swam across the ocean and found a home in Stockholm, Sweden! Sankta Eugenia Vokalensemble, led by Ulf Samuelsson, will perform it during High Mass on February 1, 2015 at Sankta Eugenia Church. This will be the first performance of this piece.
As someone with Scandinavian heritage, the idea of having music performed there has been a goal of mine for a long time. Stockholm is also on my bucket list of cities to visit – not right now, but maybe in the future? Let’s keep in touch, Europe.
It’s been a very exciting start to the year. A couple of my new scores have managed to survive, at least for now.
While I’m not normally so melodramatic about my work, the nail-biting worry often runs in the background, like the spyware you can never close unless you press Ctrl-Alt-Del and go into the Task Manager. I think it’s true of many who devote themselves to a craft. It’s hard not to live by the shiny outcomes, or complete lack thereof (much more common). And this gets tiring.
So I write this to encourage you. Not as a message of “I won, so you should do it.”, but “You should do it anyway, and sometimes there are nice surprises.”
It’s a great time to be a composer – especially in choral music. There are so many opportunities around the globe and in your town for performances, and I am only beginning to discover them.