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…click to listen:

…about the music

Click and hear the brand new recording of Paper Cut. Craig Kirchhoff conducts the U of M symphonic wind [and printer paper] band.

I’ve been in heavy “studio mole” mode, scribbling away at music that needs to be on a lot of other people’s music stands very, very soon. Thank goodness for multiple web presences, because when I lack the time for a thoughtful or entertaining blog post yet crave a way to procrastinate from the work at hand, in addition to snapping all the pix you see on this blog (the ones in this post were taken while at the desk pictured above), I still manage to toss a few pixels around on Facebook. Recently, my offerings there have been a mĂ©lange of info about my latest electroacoustic symphonic wind band recording, Paper Cut, (which can be heard above– play it loud!), and my latest rants against the Draconian, unconstitutional personal molestations searches now being doled out by TSA agents each time we fly.

And fly, I do. A lot. If I were solely an Executive Professional Note Alignment Specialist and nothing more, I would not get on quite so many airborne tubes. But my passion for yapping at speaking to anyone who will listen is a happily concomitant part of my career now, as is my penchant for volunteering time with non profit organizations I strongly believe in, even in the face of my looming deadlines. Hey, it keeps me on my toes.

I always assume that anyone who finds themselves on this blog will click on the link with my pic at the upper right of this screen if they’re curious about my day job. So I use this separate sea-faring space to share my utter delight at mostly very non-musical things, like frogs, baby alpacas, kayaking, hummingbirds, and visitors to my yard. But of course, they’re each a big part of where my music comes from, so it’s all inseperable. Nonetheless, I haven’t really mentioned much about my music life here in Kelpville since way back in July, so here’s a little run-down of what’s going on.

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In late October I opted out of entering an irradiating body scanner and striking a pose like a surprised criminal, and instead endured a groping far more sexual than anything my boyfriend in 8th grade ever managed, in order to fly to Minneapolis where I spoke on a panel for the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute. If ever there was a composer ready to be institutionalized after my disgusting degrading appalling experience at the airport, it was I.

It was a busy few days: I also rehearsed one of the three movements from my newest symphonic wind band piece, Immersion, at the University of Minnesota in preparation for the premiere there in February, met with a videographer on the multimedia aspect of the performance, and rehearsed a different new symphonic band piece, Paper Cut, that we then recorded at the end of the week with yet another terrific band at U of M. I had an American Music Center board meeting that also took place in Minneapolis that week, and attended lots of lunches, dinners, receptions and very late night impromptu single malt scotch tastings. Gulpings, perhaps, at the rate we were going. I believe in furthering my expertise, and just like getting to Carnegie Hall, it requires a lot of practice.

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Then it was time to be treated like a sex-starved criminal once again, as I was on to NYC, where after a night of Hallowe’en dining, dancing and carousing in Manhattan with a dear gal-pal, I chaired a day-long meeting for an organization, and the following day gave a two hour workshop for Chamber Music America for their composer/performers, offering a few thoughts from my little brain about effective career-building ideas and techniques. My attitude has always been, “why should anyone else have to bang their head against the wall when I’ve already excelled notably at that, and can share what I’ve learned?” Step 1: stop banging my head against the wall. [I love the old joke: Patient: “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.” Doc: “So stop doing that.”].

Returning to my paradise on the sea, I found myself, and the brain that [usually but not always] accompanies my self, juggling the preparation and delivery of parts, scores, and in one instance a final mix of a recording for six, count ’em, six different pieces for six different musicians/ensembles and six different performances/recordings. All in a matter of days. These were all pieces that had, thankfully, already been composed (by me, as it coincidentally turned out), so heck, at least I had a head start. But this was the nitty-gritty of publishing that I was dealing with. At one point, after I changed gears in just one afternoon from a piano and electronics piece to a string, woodwind and piano sextet to a bass flute and electronics work to a symphonic wind band piece to a solo piano piece and back again to another electroacoustic band piece, I thought it was possible that my head would finally explode, gushing out a whole lot of notes onto the carpet and turning it from shades of beige and brown to a bunch of slightly singed black dots strewn everywhere. Not a pretty sight. Luckily, my skull withstood this intensive ramming from within, and managed to remain intact. This time.

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Now I’m back to composing-on-a-tight-deadline mode before I leave for yet another T & A TSA-approved groping for yet another long trip in two weeks. My first personal-assault-worthy stop is a return to New York for a MacDowell Colony board meeting and fundraising dinner dinner honoring the board’s marvelous outgoing chair, Robert MacNeil, and an ASCAP Symphony & Concert committee meeting. Then yippee, I get to get felt up (and, um, down) by a stressed-out, underpaid stranger once again! Hey, they should be paying me for this thrill. I’ll be off to Chicago, for several meetings with clients and to bask in the [loud!] glow along with 14,000 other music-makers at the Midwest Clinic, where, when I’m not pow-wowing with the music directors involved in my current consortium band work, Immersion, I’ll be holding down the tablecloth at the American Composers Forum BandQuest booth, helping them hawk the newest addition to their program that commissions new works for middle schoolers.

Like many artists I know, I do well under stress; there’s something about abject fear that’s quite the effective motivator. When I see very public advertisements for upcoming concerts proudly announcing a premiere of a Shapiro piece for which I have yet to write the first note, much less the final one, I admit that an odd sensation runs through my body. I would describe it as terror. Okay, terror, mixed with the thrill of a fun challenge to delve deep and express myself in a manner hopefully worthy of the faith all those kind people have placed [possibly very misguidedly] in me. But mostly terror. Ah, I’m a glutton for punishment.

And if you’re thinking to yourself, “gee, this is an awfully long post for a chick who’s under such a tight deadline, ” you’re right: I am writing this missive at the moment, rather than writing the piece that’s due momentarily, because sitting a few feet behind me is a wonderful piano technician who is busy plunking plunking pllllluuuuNNnnkkk–kkkkk—KK….ing- ing-ING-ing….. away, endlessly, as he carefully tunes my piano. Whatever few talents I may possess, being able to compose in the same room as someone tuning a piano ain’t one of them!

Next post: the amazingly kewl gig I’m doing in January! Stay tuned. Or at least be microtonal.