Obsessions: a vocal recital

Obsessions: a vocal recital

As the end of my DMA program looms in the horizon, I've started reflecting on my past musical training. I'm sure this isn't the end of my education, but it will likely be the last time I'm officially enrolled as a university student (though a superlative masters in choral conducting keeps tempting me...). I've been thinking a bit about my undergraduate experience especially, nearly half a life ago, and have been returning to some music and ideas I've always loved and never fully explored or got enough of. This recital is partly about getting some quality documentation of 'traditional' singing for upcoming job applications and my general portfolio, but it's also returning to those ideas,  and celebrating my formal education as a singer especially. I'll be performing a decent variety of pieces including a few baroque tunes as a counter-tenor (a voice type I've always been fascinated by) a Vaughan Williams song cycle (my favorite art-song composer as a young musician), and a...
Read More
Ashland High School Graduation Speech

Ashland High School Graduation Speech

Earlier in 2017 I received one of the most unexpected phone calls of my life - a young man named Evan introduced himself as the current student body president of Ashland High School (my alma mater) and asked if I'd be willing to be the keynote speaker at their graduation. I'd never felt so honored and immediately starting working on a speech that took me months to write. Two weeks before I was to give the speech, there was a murder in Portland, OR.. A man yelling racial slurs at two young girls on a train attacked three people who bravely stepped up to defend them.  Two of those people were killed for standing up to hate. I was teaching music workshops in Spain at the time, but news of the attack and the heroism of these strangers effected everyone there as well. A few days later I received a message that one of the victims was a graduate of Ashland High and...
Read More
Pierrot: An in progress presentation

Pierrot: An in progress presentation

This is a project I've been thinking about and working on for a few years now. I've been looking to write a modular piece for voice and electronics that I could use as a solo set in a bunch of different situations and thought the poetry of Pierrot Lunaire had a lot of potential. I had the good fortune of coming across this new translation of Pierrot Lunaire by scholar Gregory Richter, who has given me permission to use his translation for my piece. When I started going through the poems, the first thing I noticed was that there are way more than the 21 poems set my Schoenberg; there are, in fact, 50 in the original set, and a few extras by Giraud written later in his career. As I read and re-read the poetry, learning more about their structure, motivic elements, and the background of the Commedia dell'arte, I also started seeing a through-line between the poems that tell Pierrot's story, rather than them being a collection...
Read More
The Vast Sea

The Vast Sea

Now that I'm working with a regular vocal sextet, I'm starting to explore writing for this configuration of voices, and so far I'm loving it. I've organized the group a little oddly; instead of an even male/female split, I'm using two women (one soprano and one mezzo) and a counter-tenor to create flexibility in our writing. This configuration is allowing us to do typical trio/trio type voicing, but also duet with four-part accompaniment, and sometimes trio on bottom, duet on top, and a solo line cutting through the middle. We also have the flexibility to jump straight into 6 part jazz style voicings, which is a ton of fun. My first piece for the group, The Vast Sea (black waves, green foam) is partly an exploration of these different arrangement possibilities, coupled with my continuing interest in microtonal tuning and extended vocal techniques. Specifically, I was listening to a lot of Stockhausen's seminal vocal work Stimmung, which uses the first 7 notes of the...
Read More
HEX: Music for Vocal Sextet

HEX: Music for Vocal Sextet

For years I've had ambitions of working with a regular vocal sextet to do the music from some of my favorite composers like Meredith Monk and Toby Twining. There's something about this particular configuration that feels like magic, or maybe it's this particular group of singers. They're all members of C3LA as well, and most of them also work with ensembles like the LA Master Chorale, LA Opera, etc. Our first real concert is going to be next week for my 2nd DMA recital at CalArts. (Feb. 15th, 8pm in the Wild Beast) But we'll be doing a few more events in the next month or so including a lecture/recital at the Eureka! conference at CSU Fullerton and C3LA's March shows. The show on Feb. 15th will be live streamed (and then live on the internet forever after) so if you want to check it out, you can do so HERE   The Program will include Excerpts from Pierrot, Fahad Siadat Dolmen Music, Meredith Monk Hymn, Toby Twining Hee-oo-hm-ha, Toby...
Read More
Swells and Soundings

Swells and Soundings

The Resonance Collective has been commissioned to create a new music/dance work to accompany the opening reception of Lucy Kalian’s Swells & Soundings. Kalian provides the following artist’s statement: Superficially, “Swells and Soundings” celebrates the coastline. Below the surface is deeper exploration of constant shifting: Yearning for things unknown and intangible Reveling in the sheer exuberance of experience Monitoring, in every state, the current position Our piece Sirens explores similar themes, exploring the depths and a sense of endless and ecstatic yearning in the sea. Please join us for this free event where we will premiere our new work Sirens featuring choreography by André Megerdichian and a live vocal/electronic score performed by Fahad Siadat. Details: Monmouth University, Pollack Gallery – Sept. 3oth, 6:30pm-8:30pm For more information visit www.monouth.edu/arts or call 732.263.5715...
Read More
Pythagorean Transposition

Pythagorean Transposition

Pythagorean Transposition   I remember my first encounter with tuning systems and micro-tonality, and the mind blowing realization equal-temperament was not the end-all of how to organize the notes of an octave. It’s been a continual area of interest for me, especially Just Intonation and naturally occurring harmonics. For years I have also been fascinated by the traditions of esoteric mysticism and how they relate to music, but only recently have given myself the time to study them in any significant way. Henry Corbin talks about the importance in these traditions of symbols (as opposed to metaphors and allegory) as a key point of access to higher planes of consciousness and deeper understanding of the divine world and I’ve always seen music as one such symbol. I’m certainly not alone in this. It doesn’t take more than a casual internet search of music+mysticism to find a thriving (often painfully new age) world of people interested in the subject. The idea isn’t new, but the...
Read More