A Composer's Adventures

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Composing

Creating from the Muscle

handmusic

A music lover who liked my orchestration for large ensembles asked how I do it: “Is there a way to combine instruments for particular effects?” Thinking it over, I realized my knowledge of orchestration is not intellectual and easily explained. It is stored in my muscles — my arms, shoulders, chest and viscera.… Read the rest

Musicians Gave Birth to My Goldberg Variations

Goldberg Cover

Some years ago I surprised my wife Ulla on her birthday by writing a chamber ensemble arrangement of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. The principal players of the Toronto Symphony gathered at our house to rehearse it in preparation for an evening performance.… Read the rest

“You Do It!”

beethoven3

Years ago I got stuck when writing my wind ensemble work Winds of Nagual. I hammered at it for three days and finally jumped up from the drawing board, threw down my pencil and growled, “You do it!” and I stormed out of my studio.… Read the rest

Proclaim Your Rarity

Stagecoach Music Festival - Day One

Willie Nelson performs at the Stagecoach Music Festival in Indio, California, May 5, 2007.
(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

I recently asked composition students at a major music school in the US to create a collective graphic notation piece on the blackboard and sing each sound they added.… Read the rest