March 8th, 2015
Had a lovely time putting together a couple songs from Unremembered with Shara and the American Composers Orchestra, who premiered a new arrangement for full orchestra on February 27, 2015 at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall.
I Care If You Listen had this to say about the show: “In selections from Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Unremembered, Worden set aside the pep for something more subdued. Based on grisly subject matter, “The Swan” was dark, cinematic, and passionately delivered. “The Witch” was intense, curling, and fierce, with groundwork laid by a jazzy guitar shuffle. If these two selections are any indication, Unremembered is a deeply personal, brave work from Snider. Her music provided a somber, if not unwelcome, lull to the evening.”
February 1st, 2015
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra just announced their ’15-16 season, which includes a thrilling number of premieres from composers Mohammed Fairouz, Gabriela Lena Frank, Aaron Jay Kernis, Tod Machover, Nico Muhly, Leonard Slatkin, and myself (spring ’16.) I’m honored to be a part of their season and can’t wait to begin work on the piece.
January 29th, 2015
North Carolina Symphony recently announced their ’15-16 season, for which I’m honored to be writing a 25-minute orchestral work, to premiere in September 2015. Martin Sher and his colleagues are doing some fantastic programming down there — bold and adventurous, with a lot of work by young(ish) composers. Thrilled to be a part of it, and super enjoying (and sweating over) my work on this piece.
October 10th, 2014
Sometimes, mixing an album — or pre-mixing as the case is here — can feel an awful lot like this.
September 3rd, 2014
It’s back to school time!
I’m excited about this season. It’s a crazy busy time for me, as I’m trying to finish the Unremembered record (which has taken about five times longer than expected, with dozens of hours of edit-and-mix-note-making seemingly each week) while writing a large orchestral piece and other music — and juggling NewAm responsibilities and parenthood — but every composer I know is crazed like this. Seems to come with the territory.
Anyway, the ’14/’15 season includes many events I’m looking forward to. In February 2015, the American Composers Orchestra will perform a new orchestration of three songs from Unremembered with Shara Worden at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, a performance that Worden will give with the North Carolina Symphony on three nights in April. The NOW Ensemble will perform Pale As Centuries at the Lincoln Center Atrium, a work that will be featured on their upcoming third album, to be released on New Amsterdam Records in June 2015. yMusic will perform Daughter of the Waves as part of The Measure of All Things, a film collaboration with Sam Green, at The Kitchen, Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art, Duke Performances, Greece, and a whole bunch of other places. During this time, I’ll be at work on commissions for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra; the North Carolina Symphony and Princeton Symphony Orchestra; the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble; and the Young People’s Chorus of New York.
Then, come spring, Unremembered — the recording of my 13 movement orchestral song cycle, featuring Shara Worden, DM Stith, and Padma Newsome, inspired by the poetry and illustrations of Nathaniel Bellows — will hopefully be ready to leave its four-year-old nest and make its way into the world.
July 15th, 2014
We’ve been doing a LOT of editing on the Unremembered recording. Absurd, hair-splitting, sanity-robbing amounts of editing. And some sound design and basic score mixing, but before we can really get to balancing and sonics, it’s just a ton of editing: getting the orchestra and percussion overdubs to line up correctly, manipulating microseconds to subtly shift the feel of certain passages, synchronizing the consonants of unison vocals, swapping out a note from one take for that same note from another…and on and on and on. Fortunately, Lawson is really good at it. And of course, it doesn’t hurt that we have incredible performances to work with. But that almost creates more work: we have Shara and David and Padma doing every line of every song umpteen different ways, so knowing which of the many permutations with orchestra will unlock the magic is time-consuming and crazy-making. I thought I learned this making Penelope, but with this record I feel so much more keenly aware of the number of tiny stars that have to align for a recording like this to sound really great. It really makes me appreciate how insanely well-rehearsed large ensembles must have been in the days before digital editing. Like that scene in Mary Poppins when they’re doing that crazy long chimney dance on the rooftops — to think how much of that was done in a single take! We’re working long and hard to make our chimney dance look as natural and spontaneous, only from the other side, millisecond by millisecond, mouse click by mouse click. Here are David (Stith) and Lawson, pondering and clicking.
March 30th, 2014
I’m honored and thrilled to share that I was named the 7th annual winner of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Elaine Lebenbom Memorial Award. I will compose a work for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra that will be given its world premiere under DSO Conductor Leonard Slatkin in the ’15-16 season. While I’ve spent the past couple years writing for voice and orchestra, I’ve been eager to focus on writing for orchestra alone, and I grew up listening to lots of recordings by both the DSO and Slatkin, so this news really had me quite beside myself.
Here’s to applying for things. I can’t say I’ve been great at following this advice myself, and I still fully believe that winning a competition is not a conferral of anything other than good fortune — your work having found the right audience in whoever happened to be on the panel at that time. But it’s pretty safe to say that if you don’t apply, you won’t win. I applied for this competition only because I’d served on an ASCAP task-force on female composers days before the deadline, during which we discussed the tendency of female composers not to apply for competitions. Feeling somewhat sheepish about the fact that I myself hadn’t applied for anything in six or seven years, I went home, updated my C.V. and Fedexed my application. I then genuinely forgot about it until a year later, when I found myself wondering why someone from the DSO had left a message on my voicemail.
You really never know. And winning is not the only possible good outcome: panelists who hear your work and like it will remember you for other opportunities. So yeah: apply for things, folks. Especially you, my compositrice sistren.
Here is the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s press release.
March 15th, 2014
The brilliant, talented, and clever fellows in Chicago’s Spektral Quartet asked me to create a ringtone for their Mobile Miniatures project, which commissioned 45 composers from around the world to re-imagine the word of ringtones, alerts, and alarms. At their suggestion, I chose to compose a little wake-up alarm, which you can find here.
A wonderfully diverse cross-section of composers, with so many ingenious, witty, and imaginative takes on the idea. Here’s an article from The Chicago Tribune on the project.
February 27th, 2014
Penelope has been added to the lineup of the intriguing new post-classical festival Apples & Olives, the brainchild of Swiss musical and cultural entrepreneur Etienne Abelin. The inaugural A&O festival will take place May 22-24, 2014, and will feature work by A&O Vocal Ensemble, Nik Bärtsch, Jannik Giger, Judd Greenstein, Konomichi, Sarah Neufeld (Arcade Fire), Nexus Quintet, NOW Ensemble, Gabriel Prokofiev, Caroline Shaw, Yband, and more.
Shara Worden, fresh off her Penelope performance with the Residentie Orkest of The Hague, will perform the work with members of NOW Ensemble and other instrumentalists featured at the Festival.
February 5th, 2014
Thrilled that Roomful of Teeth has been awarded the GRAMMY for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance!
A piece of mine, “The Orchard” (text by Nathaniel Bellows) — commissioned by Roomful of Teeth as part of a residency I did with them at MASS MoCA in 2011 — is featured on the album, which was released on New Amsterdam. Congrats to Brad Wells and the Teeth!