Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hey, remember that time I started a blog....

Well I certainly have been neglectful in my blogging duties. I have not however been neglectful in my duties as a composer. For the past year, I have been writing what has come to be my first symphony. It's due to premier on June 2 at 8:00 p.m. in Weigel Hall on the campus of Ohio State University. (I think that's enough prepositional phrases for that sentence....) I'm so thrilled that Dr. Mikkelson has agreed to program the symphony on the final concert of the Wind Symphony's season, but today was rather a surprising maelstrom of emotions surrounding the symphony.

Today was the first day that the group read the piece together. It's really exciting especially to see my name listed on the rehearsal schedule listed under Aaron Copland's; it's exciting to know that what has existed up to this point as a mostly theoretical thing, either as an idea or a digital file or a piece of paper is going to become a tangible sonic sensation; and it's exciting to know that the 29 players and 1 conductor that the piece requires are joining in the effort that I've singlehandedly been a part of for the last year. It's exciting and humbling, but there's also a tinge of nervousness on this emotional landscape.

For the past year I have lived with this piece and it hasn't seen many people aside from me. It's met my composition teachers and it's met Dr. Mikkelson and few other friends and colleagues, but it hasn't spent enough time with any of these people for them to scrutinize it. This is the part that makes me nervous. There's no reason that the reading should go disastrously, but the irrational and vulnerable parts of me are nervous that players will judge my work harshly. My work that I've spent the past year of my life creating and developing and nurturing. There's a fairly large emotional risk involved in this process, especially for a composer who has yet to create a name for himself outside of his own university.

The counter-argument to Debbie Downer up there is that, while the piece hasn't seen many people for the past year, I have. During my tenure at Ohio State, I've had the pleasure of forming friendships with talented musicians from many facets of music be they bassoonists, percussionists, conductors, educators, or myriad other musical disciplines. The people with whom I've formed these relationships have unwittingly invested part of themselves into my piece, too. It's much easier to write a virtuosic piece when you deal daily with budding talents who inspire confidence in a burgeoning composer and are willing to offer guidance to him and, what's more, they are willing to take a risk with that same young composer. I am happy and proud to say that it has been my experience at Ohio State that the overwhelming majority of people work to create at atmosphere of collaboration. It is one that allows for safe failure (which is an important step in any learning process), but encourages success. I must reiterate that I am humbled to have so many talented musicians putting energy into this process.

That is an ex post facto look at my emotions from this morning. I'm very glad to report that the reading went well and was well received by the Wind Symphony members. That is (somewhat thankfully) an anticlimax to an emotionally turbulent morning and this will be a similarly anticlimactic end to this post. Anticlimax happens sometimes and sometimes that's good. I'm glad there's no feeling of devastation that I have to wind myself up to recuperate from or conversely a feeling euphoria that I would end up crashing from. I'm glad to find myself in satisfyingly placid emotional waters.


  1. DJR I am so proud of you and I am so so glad the reading went well!! xoxox SER

  2. I so enjoyed reading this, David. The inevitable part of this whole process, I believe, is an emotional roller coaster, but you are quite obviously not to be thrown by the dips and sharp curves. Creativity is a marvelous gift, but sometimes it takes true grit to live with it. You're obviously doing well and should take tremendous pride in all you're doing/have done.

    Looking forward to more,
    Julie Quayle