“Some may say that I couldn’t sing, but no one can say that I didn’t sing.” – Florence Foster Jenkins ...
I’ve been really lucky these past 6 months or so. Wonderful performers and wonderful concert series have premiered so many of my compositions. What better feeling can a composer have than sitting in an audience hearing their notes come alive in a big hall? It is definitely a powerful feeling but not the joyous one I always think it will be… It seems there is a trick to getting that feeling. I need to stop writing such emotional pieces. It seems so many of my pieces that have premiered of late have been, well, upsetting.
In September, the wonderful pianist, Lisa Tahara, premiered my docu-composition called Lac-Mégantic. I don’t think I need to explain how you wouldn’t feel like hooting and hollering with pride as the last sound reverberates from the piano.
Just last week, bass clarinetist, Kathryn Ladano, performed by piece, 08/14/13 – Cairo. That piece uses actual sound from the violent crackdown on protesters in Cairo back on that day last August. That’s the sound of real people undergoing horrible brutality. I didn’t much feel like clapping after Kathryn’s stirring performance.
And, now, this Saturday, I get to be present for another world premiere. This one I could actually see myself jumping up, screaming with delight and clapping non-stoppingly, one day. But, unfortunately not for the premiere. My new piece, If Not Us, Then Who?, was inspired by Filipino Climate Change Envoy, Yeb Sano, and Greenpeace activist, Kumi Naidoo. These are two inspiring people who are passionately working to halt climate change. Since most of the world’s leadership hasn’t taken their path, I won’t be leaving this premiere on a high note. So for now, I hope my piece can inspire others and re-invigorate those already fighting for life on the planet. And, I look forward to that day when I can leave a performance of this piece with happiness.
I have to thank all the musicians who are brave enough to perform my pieces. I think artists have their own role in social issues as I discussed in my Huffington Post article. And, thanks to the audience members who share their feelings with me, sometimes in tears, after a performance. I usually go through those emotionally-charged feelings alone at home as I compose my pieces, so I appreciate knowing there are others who feel the same way.
If you can bear it, come watch the premiere of, If Not Us, Then Who?, this Saturday. Otherwise, I’ll see you all when there is something to celebrate.