solo bang

Tomorrow evening, at 7:30 at the Recital Hall of the School of Music of the University of South Carolina (Columbia), my nephew, Gordon Hicken, will be giving the premiere performance of When Your Time is Orange, which I wrote for this occasion. The recital also includes music by JS Bach, Becker, Carter, Masson, Stevens, and Thomas.

If you're in the neighborhood, please drop in.


hear the bang

Phil Freeman has posted the recording of the first performance of my Percussion Concerto at Burning Ambulance. Thanks, also and again to Omar Carmenates (pictures), Leslie Hicken, and the Furman University Wind Ensemble for their fine performance.


southern expressive

Carlisle Floyd
Some thoughts on the Florida State Opera production of Carlisle Floyd's Cold Sassy Tree (2000) I attended this weekend:

  • As is almost always the case, the production and performance were of as high a quality as one could hope for from a university opera company. These productions are mounted for academic credit and are given a fraction of the support given to many other activities that are, frankly speaking, not strictly related to a university's mission.
  • The renovated Ruby Diamond Concert Hall continues to amaze me with its sound, its appearance (more on that in a bit), and its comfort. Well done.
  • The warm colors of Lighting and Scenic Designer Peter Dean Beck's sets and lighting, along with Julia Bradley's costumes, fit so well with Diamond's wood trim and sky-painted walls it was as if the hall itself was an extension of the opera's setting.
  • The Opera Orchestra (conducted by Director of Opera Activities Douglas Fisher) sounded great, as did the singers, soloists and choristers alike.
  • Florida State Opera productions typically provide a visually dynamic theatrical experience. This is due, in large part, to Stage Director Matthew Lata's skill in handling movement on the stage, particularly the movements of groups of people--no "park and bark" here. Cold Sassy Tree did not provide opportunities for elaborate effects or stunning coups de theatre, but Lata's staging was compelling and eye-rewarding. Particularly expressive were a "declaration of love" scene at the end of Act Two and a robbery at the beginning of Act Three.
  • Floyd's music is melodic and sumptuous, though he (wisely, to my ear) eschews big song-like tunes in favor of expressively shaped lines that serve the dramatic shapes of the libretto. The score never resorts to Southern Eccentric cliche, and is beautifully and imaginatively orchestrated.
  • I was struck particularly, even awe-struck, if truth be told, by Floyd's storytelling mastery in this opera. I have not read Olive Ann Burns' 1984 novel, but I am given to understand that Floyd's scenario prunes away a good number of sub-plots and characters. What remains is a shapely story, which Floyd, setting his own libretto, paces with a sure hand. I recommend the study of this opera and libretto to anyone foolish enough who wishes to write an opera.
  • Finally, it was very moving to see the composer come on stage to the rapturous applause that greeted the end of the performance. It was a fine cap to a great evening in the theater.


his life on the plains

Lee Hyla
My review of Lee Hyla's new disc of music for small ensemble, My Life on the Plains, is up at Burning Ambulance.

An interview I did with Mr. Hyla a few years ago can be found here.

More later.