One year ago today I went on stage in the Kasser Theatre at Montclair State University in New Jersey to perform Barstow by Harry Partch. I was joined on stage by Jonathan Evers, Devon Yasamune Toyotomi, Liam Sheehy, and Mike Deering. Barstow was performed that evening alongside several other works for Harry’s instruments. This was the final performance on the original set of instruments at Montclair before they were moved to University of Washington last November. For many years I had dreamed of performing Harry’s music, and this performance was an amazing opportunity and experience. Although I am glad that the instruments are at a supportive institution, I am sad that I can’t just hop on a train to enjoy their presence. Hopefully I will have the opportunity to perform Barstow and other works by Harry again in the future.
I received word yesterday that the composer and pianist David Ward-Steinman has died. Dr. Ward-Steinman was a teacher of mine at San Diego State University and one of the first people who encouraged me to compose music. My first memories of him was walking into his office and showing him some early, early works of mine (works I’d never let anyone know about today). “The fugue is better than the prelude,” he said before urging me to submit them both in my portfolio for entrance into SDSU’s composition program.
Today the news broke that Furious 7 raked in over $380 million worldwide during its opening weekend. When I first heard that Universal Pictures would be making a seventh film in the series during Superbowl IL (I had forgotten that Paul Walker had died in an automobile accident back in 2013 when the movie was still in production), my immediate reaction to the trailer was to start laughing. When a film series reaches part seven, I expect only the worst.
Eight years ago today my senior composition recital was held at Smith Recital Hall at San Diego State University. The concert included nine different works I had composed over four years at SDSU, and these works quite appropriately represented my creative output from 2003–2007. Strangely though, I quickly lost interest in the works after I graduated, and today I rarely share anything I’ve ever composed prior to 2008. There are however, a couple works I gladly continue to share and those are the two bits of muzak—or furniture music as Erik Satie would call it—I composed as intermission music for the recital, “Causal Friday,” and “Easy Street.” These two tracks together have the most hits of all time on my soundcloud page (making them the most popular music I’ve ever written!), and one has even been included as on-hold music in an Israeli comedy short.
I eventually published the tracks as the two-track album Waitin’ Around on soundcloud, and the songs remain near and dear to me. There’s something fascinating about music that is not meant to be heard. Muzak is truly one of my guilty pleasures, and a my not-so-greatest secret is that I would love to have a regular job composing on-hold music for all those people, waiting around, on hold.
On Sunday March 1, I had the opportunity to present at the North American Basic Income Guarantee Congress (NABIG) on the issue of arts, technology, and basic income. Basic income is a form of social security in which every person, regardless of their wealth, health, or any other distinction, is given a certain amount of money regularly (once a month is the usual interval mentioned). Suffice to say this is a radical idea and currently no government or jurisdiction in the world awards a basic income to their citizens (Alaska has something similar with the Alaska Permanent Fund, and Brazil has the plans to enact a basic income). A basic income needs to meet the basic survival needs of an individual—enough to pay their food, shelter, and clothing costs—and nothing else. It is only there to ensure the survival of the individual. Continue reading
Earlier this week winter storm Juno rolled through the Northeast, and while New England bore the brunt of the storm, New York City did not receive the “historic” snowfall predicted by some. This short work was inspired by a walk I took in my neighborhood at about 03:45 in the morning—during the height of the storm. As I walked around my little corner of Long Island City the snow quickly covered up any trace of the few people out and about, and I eventually found myself at the Dutch Kills Green, a small park near my home. It was completely blanketed with mounds of snow.