Blue Glacier Decoy

Last year’s obituary in The New York Times for the modern dancer and choreographer Trisha Brown only casually mentioned her debt to the landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. It was a unusual characterization for an artist who once told her fellow Washingtonian, the choreographer Merce Cunningham, that “The rain forest was my first art class.”

Indeed the Pacific Northwest’s instruction is found in many of Brown’s works. Her 1970 piece “Floor of the Forest” employs a steel scaffolding to hold a cloth canopy of ropes threaded with colorful used clothing to create a synthetic forest where dancers writhe and wiggle.

Her 1979 piece “Glacial Decoy” is similarly derived from these experiences. In this work Brown and Robert Rauschenberg created fleeting images via gossamer-clad dancers and an ongoing found image slide projection. The mechanical and physical movements become an elegant analog to the glaciers. The images and dancers move and shift forward and back, side or other side, or anywhere in between, like a lateral melt. The fleeting projections become a visual metaphor melting and congealing anew.

I have never been to Olympic National Park, so I followed Brown’s example and combined my own experiences with what I learned from an artist who followed the Hoh River Trail, studied the Hoh Rainforest, and revered the Blue Glacier. We should follow her lead and do the same. We must “give [ourselves] a moment to feel this very mobile sense of how the balance is.”

(Listen to a clip of Trisha Brown coaching dancers during rehearsal of “Glacial Decoy.”)


The Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble will be going on tour with this piece. Here’s their press release describing their Music Inspired by our National Parks tour. Check out the tour schedule here. Watch their preview video below.

composer FAIL #104

Some people ask me if I still receive rejection letters. I do, just not as many as I used to, mainly because I don’t apply to as many competitions nowadays.

But I think I’ve achieved a new accomplishment: receiving rejection letters from competitions I didn’t apply to.

Take this email: I don’t think I actually applied to this one, but I truly can’t tell you if I applied or not. Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t.

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Truth be told, I’d love to write for wind quintet, but I probably wouldn’t know what I’m doing. (Don’t tell my students.)

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Guys! I’m back. (Or at least I hope I’m back?) I know my infamous blog has been sadly neglected, but I’ve decided I’m going to post something once a week during the academic semester.

Therefore, you can now (hopefully) look forward to fifteen weeks of rejections, cocktails, acceptances, and cats on occasion.

[In other news: I will be with the Ohio University Wind Symphony this weekend when they record Lichtweg/Lightway. I can’t wait. Also, my short piano response to Scriabin’s Op. 8 No. 1 étude (“Recomposed Scriabin”) is now available for download and purchase. Enjoy!]


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But I like writing for the horn. 😢

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composer FAIL #103

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This rejection is from a few months ago, and ironically I kind of wonder if I should be posting it because I just submitted a new application. Oh well.

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I knew I was receiving this rejection letter because they hadn’t asked me to fly out to New York City and meet them, so ultimately I decided to fly myself out to Washington D.C. instead for a performance. Totally worth it.

composer FAIL #102

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Mr. Julius, don’t be sad: rejections happen.

Greetings from Interlochen! I have just wrapped up Week 1 teaching young composers, going to fabulous concerts, and…experiencing the joys of cafeteria food when I can’t make it to Traverse City. Alas.

Now that I have some semblance of internet in my rustic cabin (oh man, should I post pictures online?), I can now post rejection letters that have been sitting in my inbox since…December 28, 2016.

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But HEY, congrats to Katherine Balch for winning this residency. (Just saying, women write music too.)


In other good news, I will be recording a podcast interview this week with Anthony Joseph Lanman of the 1 Track Podcast. Should be fun!

recording the third quince album

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Last week I did a thing (or more like the Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble did a thing): I/they recorded Prisoner of Conscience.

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(Goodness, I think I was wearing the same shirt as Liz Lemon.)

Here are some photos. Enjoy!

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Thanks Liz!

 

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Dan adjusting the mics.

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Quince recording the text in between while the others wait in the booth.

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Yes, this is a staged shot.

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#SASS

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I kind of miss these headphones.

 

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For the record, this is Carrie’s jar of peanut butter.

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Breakfast.

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They made me do it! They made me do it! (Yes, I have a cameo on this album.)

composer cocktail #2

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Miss you Quince Ladies.

Before I revive my second composer FAIL, I’d like to share with you a podcast I recently recorded with my good friends Andrew Martin Smith and host Rob McClure on ADJ•ective New Music’s podcast Lexical Tones entitled “Over Drinks – Saariaho.”

Get it? Drinks? Cocktails? DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE???

But seriously, once upon a time I saw approximately 5-10 minutes of Kaija Saariaho’s L’amour de Loin and hated it. Why? The plot was was this: boy pines girl, girl pines boy, boy gets on a boat to actually meet girl he’s pining over, HE DIES, THE END.

What can I say, the synopsis sucks.

However, I did have a change of heart and you should listen to it.

Continue reading

composer FAIL #101

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If you guys ask for more composer FAILs, you will receive more composer FAILs.

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I don’t remember what I submitted, but that’s okay: I actually have a few performances this week. (If only I could chat with my twenty-year-old self and tell her that everything will work out okay, I would…)

Austin, I am coming at you!

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