I’m so excited to announce that I’ve been awarded an Opera America Discovery Grant to have my chamber opera Jan Tait and the Bear premiered by Ensemble Thing at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow on October 6 and 8, 2016. More details of the upcoming performances to follow soon.
On February 7 at 3:00, the English Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ken Woods, will be performing the UK premiere of green/blue at Shirehall in Hereford, England. The piece was commissioned by Ken in 2003 for the Oregon East Symphony, and I’m thrilled to have the chance to hear it again.
My CD all spring, performed by the Seattle Chamber Players and friends, and recorded on the Composers Concordance label is now available from Naxos, Amazon, the Canadian Music Centre, the Scottish Music Centre, and probably elsewhere!
The first review of the CD is here, on Gapplegate Classical-Modern Review.
Here is some coverage of Jan Tait and the Bear in The Scotsman. Please note that the bear was not actually drunk, he was put to sleep with a complicated mixture of butter and Shetlandic and Norwegian herbs. And he did not starve to death: Jan Tait kept him well fed with buttered oatcakes. We’re planning a concert performance of Jan Tait this summer, and staged performances in the winter.
I’m pleased to announce that the release party for my new CD all spring will be held on June 10 at 7:00 at the Jack Straw Cultural Center in Seattle. The CD includes five of my chamber pieces, performed by the Seattle Chamber Players and friends, and will be released on the Composers Concordance label. I’ll post more details about this event closer to the date.
I’m delighted to learn that two of my pieces, Col and Why the parrot repeats human words, will be performed at the Now Hear This festival, which will take place from March 20-22, 2015, in Edmonton. Last year the Wind Rose Trio and dancer Gerry Morita gave a wonderful performance of Reeds, and I had a great time attending. The weekend-long festival had the perfect mix of great music, excellent performances, and ample opportunity for discussion and socializing. I’m looking forward to attending again this year.
In 2010 I spent 10 days in Yell, one of the Northern Isles of Shetland, with a group of killer whale researchers. Although we didn’t see any killer whales, I was there long enough to fall in love with the land, people, and folklore of Shetland.
While I was there, I got to know the musicians of ffancytunes, the UK’s northernmost chamber ensemble. They asked me to write a piece for them, and I decided to write a chamber opera based on the Shetlandic folktale Jan Tait and the Bear. It takes a long time to write a 40-minute chamber opera, and I was interrupted several times (by a violin concerto, by the birth of my son, by my hermit thrush research, etc.), but I finally completed it in October!
In November I spent a week in Yell, where we began rehearsing Jan Tait. I’m really looking forward to the performances, which will be in the summer and fall of 2015.
I wrote Seven Duos for Birds and Strings in 2011-2012, when I was composer-in-residence at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany. The piece explores the ways different species of birds might sing their songs together, ranging from unintended overlapping to hocketing so tight that it sounds like only one bird singing.
Seven Duos was commissioned by the Canada Council for the Arts for violinist Annette-Barbara Vogel and violist Dan Sweaney. For a variety of reasons, the piece did not receive its premiere until November 28, 2014, when Annette-Barbara and Dan performed it at the International Viola Congress. I’m glad they waited, because this year the Congress was in Porto, Portugal, and I was able to attend! They gave a fantastic performance, and I had a great time visiting Porto as well.