The Paul Dresher Ensemble with Thomas Glenn
Paul Dresher, one of my favorite bay area composers, recently announced a commission for me to compose a new work for the Dresher Ensemble. What i’ve got planned is a dramatic song cycle for my favorite rock star tenor, Thomas Glenn. Thomas created the role of physicist Robert Wilson in the world premiere of John Adams’ Doctor Atomic. He reprised the role at the Netherlands Opera in 2007, and will do so at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Metropolitan Opera of New York in 2008, as well as the English National Opera in 2009. The new piece will premiere and tour with the Dresher Ensemble in 2010.
Santa Clara University
In September I was hired to teach at Santa Clara University. This is an ideal position – composition and jazz piano. Actually, the music department was anticipating two hires, but after our initial conversations they extended the offer to combine both positions. My new students and colleagues are great, and…the campus is beautiful – it’s a giant garden!
For a few years now, Srinka and i have been working on a methodology for automated generation of pedagogical music arrangements. This grew out of years of teaching private lessons and observing my students’ desire to play their favorite music (not mine). About a year ago we codified the principles and procedures and applied for a patent, and a couple of months ago we heard back from the U.S. patent office. The majority of our claims have been granted, thanks in no small part to our super-awesome attorney Noel Kivlin, and also thanks to the indispensable brain of good friend (and former piano student, and patent attorney) Matt Rainey.
In 2006 I was named Artist-in-Residence at ODC Theatre, San Francisco. The Residency Program is a comprehensive, three-year program including presentation, development, and advocacy support for emerging and mid-career artists of the San Francisco Bay Area. I’m especially thankful to mad-genius Theater Director Robert Bailis, for being a true believer, inspirational ODC founder Brenda Way, the ODC artistic and administrative staff, and my fellow artists, who are an amazing, provocative group. My primary focus will be on the opera in early development, but plenty of other activity is planned, included performing and collaboration. The first event I was involved in was the Instant Message Composer/Improviser Festival, where I performed with Sheldon Brown, Graeme Jennings & Dana Pandey. Also on the festival were Paul Drescher, Ned Rothenberg, Fred Frith, and Matt Ingall’s SfSound. More to come, stay tuned for details…
On a Train Heading South was commissioned by ODC/San Francisco as a collaboration with choreographer Brenda Way and lighting/stage designer Alex Nichols. It is a dance theatre work exploring media saturation and human inattention to the environment and climate change. The central character is Cassandra, and the piece is set in an iconic ballroom environment in which she struggles to gain the attention of the crowd of party-goers. The set features an arc of twelve blocks of ice suspended over a silver floor – a double-edged vision of loveliness and self-absorption. The ice blocks melt throughout the performance – an aural and visual component of the half hour piece. On a Train Heading South is a cautionary tale about our own natures and the nature that sustains us. It was premiered in March 2005 as part of ODC’s 34th home season at the Yerba Buena Performing Arts Center in San Francisco, and toured the U.S. including performances at the Joyce Theater in New York.