facing a blank

A terrifying sight!
Phil Freeman has graciously posted an article, "Facing a Blank", that originally appeared in Burning Ambulance #3. The article chronicles the composition of my Percussion Concerto, which premiered last week. I'll be revisiting this article in light of the changes made in the piece in the run-up to the performance, and I imagine that I'll be giving myself a thorough fisking in the days ahead.

Thanks again to Phil Freeman for his attention and support. Please give the entire site a good look.


after bang

Omar Carmenates playing the first movement of my Percussion Concerto, 22 Feb 2013.
Some thoughts on the premiere:

  • It was freakin' amazing!
  • Omar Carmenates is a beast. He took a very difficult solo part and made it look and sound easy. 
  • My brother, Furman Director of Bands Leslie Hicken, is a fine conductor and an even better teacher. He took a score that is way outside the Furman Wind Ensemble's normal stylistic milieu, and with a few simple words and by working over just the right passages, he got them to play with expression and power. I'm very proud of him.
  • And now the work starts again: making some adjustments in the score and parts and arranging further  performances.


bang 3: on-site

"Grids and Motors", mm 25-37

It's funny how things work out sometimes. (Original observation, I know.)

After arriving in Greenville, I was discussing the progress of rehearsals with my brother Les, who is conducting the premiere of the Percussion Concerto on Friday evening. He said that they had to cut the second movement, "Time's Arrow" for several logistical reasons. This development made me realize something I think I had known but had not articulated, even to myself: that "Time's Arrow", which was originally the last section of the finale ("Grids and Motors") needed to be excised from the Concerto altogether and given a different place, which place I'll be working on later.

So the Concerto is back to a two-movement work, which was the original conception. I'm looking forward to hearing it for the first time this afternoon.


recording: intertwining geometries

Intertwining Geometries, m 115

Phil Freeman has posted (over at Burning Ambulance) a recording of the premiere performance of Intertwining Geometries (alto flute and bass clarinet, 2012), played last summer in London by Carla Rees (a fl) and Sarah Watts (b cl). My thanks to Phil for posting it and renewed thanks to Carla and Sarah for their committed and expressive performance of the piece.


bang 2

"Time's Arrow", mm. 158-163 (upper winds)
My Percussion Concerto started out with three movements in the first draft. (Before the first draft, there were as many as 11 short, episodic sections.) When I finished the first draft, there were two movements. The current version, being premiered next Friday, 22 February in Greenville, South Carolina, by Omar Carmenates with the Furman University Wind Ensemble, Leslie Hicken, conducting, is in three movements:

I. Fields and Waves
II. Time's Arrow
III. Grids and Motors

I'm often struck, when working on a big piece (especially), how the piece changes during the composition process, and just as often, how the original conception remains in the work's DNA. The Percussion Concerto is about time, or rather about some of the various ways time (and its eternal companion, space) has been viewed from Einstein ("Time exists to keep everything from happening at once.") on: fields, waves, arrows  grids, and motors.

When I say a piece is "about" something, the scare quotes are honest. It's hard to say sometimes whether the metaphors or the music come first, or whether they generate each other.



from "Fields and Waves",  m. 124-126
My Percussion Concerto is being premiered next Friday, 22 February by Omar Carmenates, with the Furman University Wind Ensemble, conducted by my brother, Leslie Hicken. The program also includes music by Michael Gandalfi, Roger Nixon, and H. Owen Reed.

I'll be blogging about this between now and then, including posts from Greenville next week. If there are any readers in the area I would love to see you there.