Monday, June 25, 2012

On a musical high

My friend Emily said tonight that I am on a "musical high" and I think she is right. For me one of the most exciting things about music to me is new music. I love hearing newer music (not that I am hater towards old music) but I am so enamored with the compositional process and composers in general that it would be natural that I would be so fascinated by compositions in general. Tonight I unexpectedly had my world rocked. I attend the Silicon Valley Music Festival. It was a free concert of new music composed in the last 50 years and included some truly wonderful works. I found out about the concert via facebook from my friend Jason McChristian who is a composer here in San Jose. We have had the pleasure of working together at the Summer in the City Music Camp that I co-direct the past couple of summers. While we have not formally started working together outside of the camp, I had the opportunity to hear a composition he wrote for brass quintet performed by the Nautilus Brass Quintet at our summer camp last week. Jason also wrote a delightful composition for our double reed ensemble.

What a treat it was to hear his work for solo flute entitled "dashed a tone of light rose." After hearing so much of his music lately I am so excited to begin working with him and bringing in a true composer in residence into my music program. It reminds me of the days of the "Contemporary Music Project" one of my favorite projects in music education's history and if I had unlimited resources it would be one of the things I would bring back to music classrooms across America.

But I of the things that I was told at the MSU Symposium (see my blog, a week in review) was that I needed to go just sit and listen to fantastic music and experience what is going on in the vibrant community that I live in. Between the MSU Sympsosium, the work we did last week with the Nautilus Brass Quintet at our Summer in the City Music Camp, and from the conversations that I had with campers was the importance of chamber music.

So I went to a new music concert that included solo and small chamber works. And it rocked my world. Not only was experiencing Jason's piece amazing and exciting BUT I found a new composer whose music was epic. His name is Andy Akiho and they performed his pieces Murasaki (Purple) and Kirro (Yellow). On Murasaki he performed on "steel pan" (one steel drum). I was skeptical when I saw it listed in the program but it was no joke. He is playing with the 4 mallet Stevens grip and he makes that pan sound like a hybrid between harp, celeste, and muted piano. It was a sound like none other and I was memorized.

His final piece....modern and hip. I love music that is fresh and new to my ears. Music that makes me think. Music that combines modern sounds. This concert was simply outstanding. I made some connections with some folks running the festival and have some big ideas for summer music experiences next summer and look forward to seeing if I can work them out for the students as I think there could be a great collaboration between Summer in the City and the Silicon Valley Music Festival. If you are local and you get a chance please consider going out and supporting them. If you aren't local then the performances are being recorded and will be video cast. To Ray Furuta, the student from Independence High School who is out in New York studying and on the way to making it big...what an amazing gift this music festival is to the community you came from. Thank-you for sharing your music and your friends with us!

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