[IMAGE] another rainbow
Three musical shots taken at my writing desk: Finian’s journey to the pot o’ gold…

…click to listen:

…about the music

Quite the voyage.

Well, my week in Chicago was fabulous and productive, filled with incredibly wonderful people day and night (and another visit to the thrilling Art Institute collection). Over the last few months I’ve been juggling a lot of diverse projects simultaneously, and my meetings this past week reflected many of them while my brain just did its feeble best to keep up. It happens that several of my patrons, clients, commissioners, and all-around kind people who pat me on the head for the music that haplessly spews from it, are either based in Chicago, or were there just as I was for the huge Midwest Clinic. It was all I could do to keep my chamber music, electronic music, solo music, educational music and symphonic wind band music straight.

When a composer discusses a piece with someone, particularly if that someone has had a hand in bringing those notes into the air as either patron or player, it’s awfully helpful to remember what the music actually looks and sounds like. One moment amidst the conference din, a musician enthusiastically declared to me how much he liked playing something to which he referred as “that piece with the cool stuff.” To which I gratefully mumbled back something about “the paper.” At which he shook his head at me quizzically and said something about “key clicks.” To which I replied something about “low flutes.” To which he protested, since he was a euphonium player. At which point I finally deduced which piece was “that piece.” Sigh.

Each piece is a beloved child, but they’re all running loose around the house, wreaking one level of havoc or another. Some works have recently been premiered and upcoming performances tug at my hem for attention; other commissions are newly delivered and published with imminent premieres, and yet others are in the process of being written. As with a good book, I’m riveted to find out exactly how they end. People often say, “I can’t wait to see it!”, to which my immediate and bemused response is, “yeah, me too!”. Obviously, I wouldn’t have it any other way or I wouldn’t have gotten myself into this fine mess.

So I was busy enough that I barely noticed the low low low temperatures or the fact that static electricity does some really fascinating things to long straight hair in the winter. Remember, I haven’t lived in winter since I was 21 and that was, like, y’know, 57 years ago. But I certainly make a lot of visits to winter in the name of music-making. This year: Minneapolis, Chicago, Columbus, New York, Baltimore (it still counts!). And last winter was no different, as I whined in this post.

[IMAGE] Coast range
…Mother Abbess’s mountains to climb– ev’ry one of ’em…

Well folks, The Universe, in all it’s groovy, Universe-like power, must have heard me whine. Out of the blue, within weeks of me making a conscious note-to-self that read, “Alex: next year, try to line up WARM weather gigs in winter, would ya?!”, I received an email from a lovely fellow in Chicago named Eric Stassen, who had read a comment I had posted on a music blog called Adaptistration about attracting people to the symphony, and clicked on my name (no doubt wondering, “who’s he?”). Despite having never met me (or possibly thanks to it), after reading some of what I have to say about art and audiences, he invited me to be the composer-in-residence of the very first classical music cruise. It takes place on Celebrity Cruise’s ship Mercury, which he has arranged for a remarkable trip called Symphonic Voyages, that sails from (and with any luck, back to) Baltimore to…

the Caribbean.
Five Eastern Caribbean islands, to be exact.

Wow. I already live in a seaside paradise; to be hired to spend 12 days working in one, on a ship filled with music lovers and… are you ready for this?: a 50-piece orchestra, conductor, and soloists… is beyond awesome. There will be sea-faring performances of two of my largest and, not surprisingly, water-themed chamber works: a string quintet titled Current Events, and a dectet for strings and winds titled Archipelago. Steve Robinson of Chicago’s classical music station WFMT was kind enough to do a one-hour interview with Eric a couple of weeks ago, during which he broadcast the live premiere of Archipelago, performed by Chicago’s Fifth House ensemble.

See that nice graphic on the right side bar? The one with the big ship? Yup. That’s it. Picture me with a camera or binoculars, standing on the deck wearing SPF 246 and a big goofy grin. If you’re curious about the wonderful musicians and the schedule, click; it’s a very nice website. My favorite part is the page titled Community: not only will I be invested in leading the charge and taking down the fourth wall between the audience and the performers, but we’re inviting passengers to bring their instruments! Flash mob jamming on the Atlantic. Just think of the possibilities…

I’m told the ship is nearly sold out, but if you happen to be free between January 3-15, could use a little natural vitamin D, fresh ocean air and live music, and wanna hang out with me and a lot of very fun musicians, there’s still room. Meanwhile, I’m going to try to blog from the ship, as the very first Composer-in-Flotation. Fair seas! And, E-flats!

[IMAGE] Oystercatchers and gull
… and Bud Frump’s way of succeeding in business without really trying: just show up and stand around!

Download this article as an e-book