It’s a busy and thrilling moment for me up here in the Pacific Northwest, all to do with preparing new music, by me and by my friends. I can honestly say that I’ve been embraced by a regional community of composers, arguably for the first time in my professional life.
On the concert, I’ll conduct a new song cycle by Robert Kyr, and playing the viola in my piece will be Kenji Bunch, whom, frankly, I’ve thought of as a big famous composer ever since the Ahn Trio released “Music for my Favorite Insomniac” in 2008:
This summer, I spent many an hour creating “critical editions” of the music of two Seattle composers, Carol Sams and Huntley Beyer. I’m currently in rehearsals for Carol’s The Earthmakers, a monumental work if ever there was one, and, in my view among the very best oratorios composed in the past 50 years (if not the past 100.)
Kia (that’s Carol) wrote The Earthmakers in 1986 (which, she continues to claim, was before I was born, in spite of my protestations to the contrary.) It’s an oratorio in 16 movements that tells the story of the creation of the world from a variety of cultural perspectives—Zuni, Inuit, Melanesian, Biblical, scientific, etc.
Every second I spend with this piece is filled with excitement as it comes to life in my inner ear and in rehearsals with the chorus, soloists, and orchestra. Each section flows naturally from what came before, but never in the way you’d expect. Simply put, it’s a masterpiece, and I can’t wait to perform it, not only now, but many times in the future.
The Earthmakers is on a concert I’m doing with OSSCS called “Origins,” and we’re kicking things off with music by a composer who wrote his first concert work for this very occasion. Carlos Garcia (whose instagram, @carlosgarsizzle, is highly recommended) created this little mockup, which to me sounds like a fully produced Hans Zimmer score, to give you a taste of the real thing until we make our live recording.