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Posts applicable to E. C. Schirmer Classical
  • John David Earnest: ECS Composer of the Month

    "A joyful, demanding, arduous task..."

    Words from John David Earnest on the work of a composer.

    Describe life as a composer.

    I write music because I'm compelled to do so: it's a joyful, demanding, arduous task, and the spiritual satisfaction is often profound.

    Describe your compositional style. What most inspires your music?

    It's difficult to describe one's own compositional "style," if there is one at all. The most I can say about it is that I love making a good melody, especially a lyrical one; I'm also drawn to propulsive rhythmic ideas, and dissonant chromatic harmony in a tonal context.

    For the past 35 years, you've taught composition and orchestration privately as well as at the university level. In your work with students, what questions do you hear most often?

    Student: I have this idea, but now I'm stuck--how do I go on from here?

    I usually have a variety of answers to the question, depending on the student, but my most frequent answer is: Use what you've already got! You don't need to keep generating more ideas. Just look for the potential in the original idea itself (intervallic and rhythmic motives, harmonic structures, patterning, and the like), and use those things to start building a structure for the piece. Think ahead about how the piece might take shape.

    Do you have any words of advice for young or new composers looking to share their music with ensembles, conductors, or publishers?

    Learn as much as you can about the players and the instruments you're writing for. Make sure your score and parts are carefully edited for dynamics, articulations, phrasing, and so on. Anticipate the questions that performers ask by using meticulous notation.

    Several works from you vocal catalog have been recently released by E. C. Schirmer. Do you implement different techniques and methods when composing for the voice, as opposed to what you do in composing for choirs or instruments?

    Yes, most certainly. Setting text to music in solo vocal works is a skill unto itself, as is the setting of text in choral works: I always begin with the words first, reading them aloud, then vocally improvising them, often at the keyboard with supporting harmony.

    What musical projects are you currently working on?

    I'm writing a piece for flute/bass flute and piano for premiere by Leonard Garrison at the National Flute Association Convention in 2018. I'm also writing a string quartet, as well as making some solo vocal and choral arrangements of American folk songs and spirituals.

    To find out more about John David Earnest, we recommend this interview by the Union-Bulletin of Walla Walla, WA.

    New York City-based composer John David Earnest was educated at the University of Texas in Austin (BM in Composition, 1964; MM in Composition, 1967). He has written extensively for orchestra, chamber ensemble, chorus, solo voice, concert band, opera and film. His Second Symphony: The Hastening Light for solo soprano, chorus and orchestra, was commissioned and premiered by the Walla Walla Symphony, Yaacov Bergman, conductor, in February 2001. Mr. Earnest's Chasing the Sun, a scherzo for orchestra has been widely played throughout the United States, and was recorded in Poland by the Warsaw National Philharmonic. Other orchestral works include Bountiful Voyager; Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (commissioned and premiered by the Mid-Columbia Symphony, Robert Bode, conductor); Sun Songs and Nocturnes (commissioned for Chanticleer and the New Jersey Symphony, Hugh Wolff, conductor); and Southern Exposure (commissioned and premiered by the Mobile Symphony, Scott Speck, conductor).

    Mr. Earnest's chamber music includes the Sonata for Piano (commissioned and premiered by Lee D. Thompson); Trois Morceaux (trio for clarinet, violin and cello); and The Blue Estuaries (for soprano and seven instruments; premiered by soprano Laural Klein and the Zephyr Ensemble, Robert Bode, conductor). Major choral works are A Van Doren Triptych (commissioned by the U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants, Craig Jessup, conductor); Only in the Dream (commissioned by the New York City Gay Men's Chorus, Gary Miller, conductor); Variations on Three American Folksongs (commissioned by the Whitman College Chorale, Robert Bode, conductor) and many more choral works, both large and small. Mr. Earnest has been an active theater composer with two one-act operas, Howard (written with librettist Tray Christopher) and A Desperate Waltz (written with librettist Mervyn Goldstein). He is currently working on a full-length opera for premiere in 2006.

    For the past 25 years, Mr. Earnest has been teaching composition and orchestration privately in New York City. In 1999 he was appointed the Johnston Visiting Professor of Music at Whitman College, where he taught composition, as well as a seminar on American Music and the Arts in the 20th Century. He continues his association with Whitman College as Composer-in-Residence while also teaching composition for a limited time each semester. He has taught at Lehman College, City University of New York, and Rutgers University in New Jersey. Fellowships have been awarded Mr. Earnest by the National Endowment for the Arts and the MacDowell Colony.

  • Featured Recording: Love's Signature: Songs for Contertenor and Piano by Juliana Hall



    From Gramophone:“[Juliana Hall's] sensitivity to words is on impressive display on Love’s Signature... these songs show Hall to be a composer who savours lyrical lines and harmonies peppered with gentle spices..."

    Juliana Hall's latest recording hosts 24 songs in 3 parts, performed by countertenor Darryl Taylor, soprano Susan Narucki, pianist Donald Berman, with the composer at the piano for some tracks as well. LOVE’S SIGNATURE traverses time and space to celebrate various types of love: characters from the plays of William Shakespeare (1564-1616) reveal universal human experiences of love throughout different times in our lives; the letters of Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) exemplify the love we have for those specific people in our circles who touch us more personally; and the poems of Marianne Moore (1887-1972) speak of how one’s love for an art form like music can provide inspiration and beauty to enrich life.

    April 2017 recording of the month on Voix des Arts.

    "One comes away from this disk with a profound appreciation for the excellence and innovation of her music as well as the hope that many more people will come to explore and enjoy it ... [the composer's] considerable skills as a pianist are on grand display..." (NATS Journal).

    “The songs’ novelty is wholly organic, never contrived, and the composer perpetuates the American Art Song tradition of Beach, Barber, and Bolcom..." (Deep Roots Magazine).

    Read more reviews on MSR Classics.

  • News from Julian Wachner & Trinity Wall Street

    Julian Wachner conducted the first four concerts in the 12-concert series titled "The Psalms Experience," part of the White Light Festival at Lincoln Center this November. From the festival: "'Out of the depths I cry to you!' For nearly 3,000 years, humans have reached out to the divine through the Psalms, the Hebrew Bible’s book of hymns revealing the gratitude, fear, and longing of the human heart. In this unprecedented choral project, four world-renowned choirs traverse 1,000 years of music over the course of 12 thematic concerts featuring all 150 psalms by 150 different composers from Bach and Handel to today’s leading artists, including new commissions by Nico Muhly and David Lang, among others."
    Read more.


    Also in November, the Trinity Youth Chorus, joining the Canterbury Choral Society and Monmouth Civic Chorus, made their way to Carnegie Hall for a performance of Mahler's Symphony of a Thousand.

  • David Conte November Performances


    Sunday, November 12th, 2017
    “Her Kind”  from “Sexton Songs”
    Marnie Breckenridge, soprano
    Hope Briggs, piano
    Newman Auditorium, Santa Rosa Junior College, Santa Rosa, CA
    Performance details




    Sunday, November 12th, 2017
    Gift of the Magi
    University of Delaware Opera Theatre
    Performance details



    Sunday, November 19th, 2017
    “Fantasy”  for solo piano
    Matthew Odell, pianist
    An Die Musik, Baltimore, MD
    Performance details






    Wednesday, November 29th, 2017
    A Copland Portrait
    Indiana State University Wind Orchestra
    Roby George, conductor
    Terra Haute, Indiana
    Performance details



  • "Buoso's Ghost" at 2018 University of Central Florida Festival

    In April 2018, University of Central Florida will stage Buoso's Ghost by Michael Ching in their UCF Celebrates the Arts Festival. The date for the performance will be announced soon. UCF plans to pair Ching's opera with Giacomo Puccini's Gianni Schicchi.

    Based on part of Dante’s Divine ComedyGianni Schicchi (the final installment of Puccini’s Il Trittico) is the beloved comic opera about the conniving Donati family’s attempts to change their deceased uncle’s will for their own gain.

    Buoso’s Ghost was first staged with the Pittsburgh Opera in 1996, and received the official premiere at Opera Memphis in 1997. The opera begins where Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi ends, and traces the sinister dealings of Buoso Donati’s family, who have allegedly poisoned Buoso. Throughout the opera, Schicchi exploits the family’s plot to outwit them time and time again.  The Chicago Tribune remarked that “Composer and librettist Ching … borrows snatches of Puccini tunes and weaves them into his own conservative-eclectic idiom, tossing in bits of American pop … for merry measure. The vocal writing is expert, the orchestration light enough to allow the singers to project the text clearly. Buoso is charming and unpretentious ….”

  • Tom Cipullo & Michael Ching featured at National Opera Association

    After Life

    Loyola University (New Orleans) stages Tom Cipullo and David Mason's After Life as part of the National Opera Association's Dominick Argento Chamber Opera Competition on January 5. 

    The Dominick Argento Chamber Opera Competition encourages the composition and performance of short operas especially useful in opera workshops and other training venues. The competition runs in two-year cycles. In the first year, composers submit scores for preliminary judging. Three finalists are chosen and excerpts from those operas are presented at the annual convention (odd years) for competition. The winning opera, chosen from among the three finalists, is produced in its entirety at the NOA convention the following year (even years).

    Deemed "[a] finely wrought exploration of the role of art in times of grave crisis" by the Washinton Post and "inventive, pitch-perfect, thought-provoking and refreshing" by Oregon ArtsWatch, After Life imagines a post-mortem reunion of Pablo Picasso and Gertrude Stein. Stein believes her beloved Alice B. Toklas has conjured her back to life, while Picasso wonders which of his many lovers has called him up from the abyss. When both realize, to their disappointment, that their great loves are not present, the two towering figures discuss their lives, their complex relationship, and their activities during the Second World War. Their outsized egos clash, resentment between them boils over and, as they confront each other, a third voice rises from the darkness. A young girl, a victim of the Holocaust, appears, and it is her questioning that has brought Stein and Picasso back from the dead. Why did she die while they lived on? Can the two artists, whose work endures, ever know death as she does? Who will remember her, when she barely remembers herself?

    Sinatra, Puccini and This Thing of Ours

    Tom Cipullo and Michael Ching lead a conversation about how American popular culture influences their music and librettos. Opera has its tradition (Puccini) and one of the factors in its rebirth is not holding a popular culture at arms' length, but embracing it (Sinatra). As a playful start, Tom Cipullo will play Frank Sinatra and Michael Ching will play Giacomo Puccini. The workshop takes place on January 5.

  • Juliana Hall: October & November Performances

    Several works from Juliana Hall's vocal catalog were featured in performances in October and November.

    October 1:  Renee Calvo, soprano, presented selections from Night Dances in a recital at the University of San Diego. Click here to learn more.

    October 13-15: Members of Northwest Art Song (soprano Arwen Myers, mezzo Laura Beckel Thoreson, and pianist Susan McDaniel) partnered with The Ensemble of Oregon to share a concert series titled "Nevertheless, She Persisted: Voices of Women in Music & Verse." The concert featured Music Like a Curve of GoldClick here to learn more.

    October 22: Piper Pack-Smith, mezzo-soprano, and Kyung Sun Choi, piano, performed four songs from Letters from Edna in a DMA recital at the University of Arizona.

    October 27 & 28: Great Camelot"Austism Advocacy Project", based on poems by Sameer Dahar, was commissioned and premiered as part of Lynx Project's The performances featured tenor Steven Humes and pianist Florence Mak. Click here to learn more.

    October 29 & 30: "Theme in Yellow" from Theme in Yellow was performed by Thea Lobo, mezzo-soprano, and Eunmi Ko, piano in Jamaica Plain, MA. The performance took place as part of a GroupMuse event. The performance was repeating the Sound of Music Performance Series at Temple Shalom in West Newton, MA.

    November 3: Music Like a Curve of Gold was performed Rebekah Smeltzer Staley, soprano, and Julie Silva, mezzo-soprano, as part of One Ounce Opera's 2nd Annual Fresh Squeezed Ounce of Art Song competition, of which Hall was named a winning composer. Click here to learn more.

    November 18 (Cambridge, MA), 22 (London), & 23 (Oxford): Christopher Eaglin, tenor, and Nicole Panizza, piano, present two concerts featuring The Holy Sonnets of John Donne at Harvard Memorial Church (MA), Coventry University (UK), and the University of Oxford (UK).

    November 28: Middlesex Community College hosts a free concert "And the Barriers Had Vanished: Exploring LGBT Issues through Music," which will include a performance Night Dances. The performing artists are soprano Anna Ward and pianist Elaine Rombola.

    For more information about Juliana Hall's art song catalog, click here.

  • Kareem Roustom's November performances

    Kareem Roustom's Dabke for string orchestra will receive three performances this month, including the Chicago premiere.

    Kareem RoustomDabke is the string orchestra setting of the third movement of composer Kareem Roustom's A Voice Exclaiming, originally scored for triple string quartet in a 2013 commission for the Kronos Quartet and Community MusicWorks players. Dabke is an Arab communal folkloric line dance typically performed at joyous occasions. Highly rhythmic and coloristic, the movement is based on a six beat dabke rhythm called "sudaasi." Also transcribed by the composer for wind ensemble, the score is dedicated to the memory of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.

    November 5,  2017 : The Rowan University String Ensemble (New Jersey) directed by Timothy Schwartz will present a concert titled “Remembering the Past – Anticipating the Future.”  This concert features music inspired by Social Justice: Dabke by Kareem Roustom as well as music by Arturo Rodriguez and Jessie Montgomery. The String Ensemble will also perform Dmitri Shostakovich’s powerful Chamber Symphony, Op. 110a (from String Quartet No. 8), which was written in 1960 and dedicated to “the victims of fascism and the war.” Details here.

    November 8: Pianist Tanya Bannister gave the New York premiere of Aleppo Songs at the Roadmaps Festival.The festival is an annual event bringing people together to examine a current crisis through art. According to the festival, its goal is to "premiere new works that stir collective consciousness and inspire meaningful action."

    November 5 & 19, 2017: The Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra gives the Chicago premiere of Dabke for string orchestra on a program with works by Joan Tower, Dimitri Shostakovich, Lili Boulanger, and Benjamin Britten. Details of each concert are available below.

    November 15: Pianist Elisaveta Blumina performed "Oh people, leave me to my sorrows," at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg.

    November 16: The LUCA School of Arts Symfonieorkest in Leuven gave the Belgian premier of Ramal under maestro Ivan Meylemans. The program featured music by Arthur Meulemans, Thomas Adès, Frans Schreker, and Paul Hindemith.


  • University of Delaware Opera Theatre presents David Conte & Michael Ching operas

    UD Opera Theatre stages David Conte's The Gift of the Magi with Michael Ching's Speed Dating Tonight on November 12, 2017. 

    David ConteThe Gift of the Magi's libretto, written by Nicholas Giardini, captures the essence of the operatic drama contained in the classic O. Henry short story. Della (Soprano) and Jim (Baritone) are a young, poor couple in love, entirely devoted to each other. The action takes place late in the afternoon on Christmas Eve. After having pledged not to exchange Christmas gifts, both decide to sell their own most precious possession in order to buy what each thinks will make the other most happy. Even though Jim adores her long, flowing tresses, Della sells her hair to wig makers so she can buy Jim a chain for his pocket watch. When Jim buys Della an exquisitely elaborate comb for her hair, the only way he can raise the money is to sell his heirloom watch. In separate scenes, both lovers have confidants who try to dissuade them of their plans, each without success. In the final scene, after the couple has exchanged their gifts, Jim and Della reaffirm their love for one another, which they now realize is the greatest gift of all.

    Michael ChingSpeed Dating Tonight! is considered one of the most popular operas in the 21st-century. It is an one act American opera that tells the story of a single hour in the lives of a group of people experiencing speed dating for the first time. It takes place in a local restaurant and includes colorful characters like a car salesman, origami designer, realtor, Tech addicts (OSD), and an over-the-top cat lover. Love at first sight, as well as two exes running into each other, are just two of the comical and romantic moments. This performance will feature two new "Delaware Dates" written especially for UD Opera Theatre.

    Source: UD Opera Theatre - University of Delaware

  • Crane Opera Ensemble presents "Buoso's Ghost" - SUNY Potsdam

    The award-winning Crane Opera Ensemble and Orchestra is set to present an uproarious double-bill, bringing together Giacomo Puccini’s comic opera in one act, Gianni Schicchi, combined with the modern sequel, Buoso’s Ghost, by contemporary composer Michael Ching, from November 16 - 18, 2017.

    Based on part of Dante’s Divine ComedyGianni Schicchi (the final installment of Puccini’s Il Trittico) is the beloved comic opera about the conniving Donati family's attempts to change their deceased uncle's will for their own gain. Stage Director David Ward notes, "Gianni Schicchi is Puccini’s only comedy – which is tragic because he writes such funny things in this opera."

    Buoso’s Ghost was first staged with the Pittsburgh Opera in 1996, and received the official premiere at Opera Memphis in 1997. The opera begins where Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi ends, and traces the sinister dealings of Buoso Donati’s family, who have allegedly poisoned Buoso. Throughout the opera, Schicchi exploits the family’s plot to outwit them time and time again.  The Chicago Tribune remarked that “Composer and librettist Ching … borrows snatches of Puccini tunes and weaves them into his own conservative-eclectic idiom, tossing in bits of American pop … for merry measure. The vocal writing is expert, the orchestration light enough to allow the singers to project the text clearly. Buoso is charming and unpretentious ….”

    Led by Musical Director Kirk Severtson, the production of “Gianni Schicchi” and “Buoso's Ghost” features students and faculty from The Crane School of Music in the cast and orchestra, as well as students from Crane and the SUNY Potsdam Department of Theatre and Dance behind the scenes. Faculty member Dr. Jonathan Stinson, baritone, will sing the title role alongside the students in the cast.

    About the Crane Opera Ensemble:

    The award-winning Crane Opera Ensemble is a significant source for opera and music theatre in the North Country region of New York State. The ensemble provides exciting opportunities for students to experience all facets of opera performance and production, through rehearsals, coaching and classes related to performance practices and production techniques. The ensemble’s productions have garnered awards from the National Opera Association (2015, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2003), The American Prize (2011), and the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (2010).

    Source: Crane Opera Ensemble to Present Double-Bill of 'Gianni Schicchi' and 'Buoso's Ghost' | SUNY Potsdam

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