Word of Mouth

Last month, I (along with like, 120 other people) gave the world premiere of my latest work, also my biggest work, also my first stab at something akin to an opera, a piece called Cassandra:

And now I’ve got a problem, because I want to do it again.

Well, I don’t necessarily have to do it again; I’d be more than happy for someone else to take the baton, not to mention all the behind-the-scenes planning and production work that would be required to mount it.

The piece is an opera-oratorio, which means that it could be presented in a concert setting or in a fully-staged production. But naturally, I want the whole enchilada: costumes, sets, dancing, acting — all of it.

Cassandra was very well received, probably the greatest triumph of my career thus yet. And the number one comment I got was: “when are we going to see it again?” (sometimes rendered as “when are we going to see it on stage?”)

And the truth of the matter is: probably not until I decide to program it again! Big pieces are a tricky business for a composer, and this piece is big in two dimensions: it’s too long to convince someone to put on a symphonic program and the orchestra is too large to convince someone to mount operatically.

Like most composers, my most successful pieces are the little guys: my duet for clarinet and violin, my concert opener orchestra piece, my little string orchestra piece, and my far-and-away bestseller, my duet for tuba and marimba. My symphony, my choir concerto, and my horn trio languish.

Those are the very few of my pieces that have achieved liftoff and gotten past the orbit of my immediate circle of performer-friends. And hey, that’s not to besmirch the colleagues of my acquaintance who have done what they could to champion my music — I am eternally grateful to them all!

But the thing is, I just don’t know many people who would be in a position to mount a piece like Cassandra. I’ve had many folks suggest conductors I could get in touch with, and that’s very kind of them, but here’s the thing: if you know a conductor who would be open to examining this work, YOU need to get in touch with them.

Composers are considered the least reliable sources on their own music, and nobody is ever looked upon with greater suspicion than a composer trying to promote a large work. Asking someone to spend an hour listening to a piece of new music is a hard sell on its own.

So you, you out there, if you were at the concert, or you watched the recording, and you heard something special, and you know someone in a position of programming authority who would even be willing to give it a listen, please give me a little help. So far, this piece has achieved a 100% success rate in engaging an audience and leaving them wanting more. In the past month, I’ve encountered many people who were at the concert, and they have shared with me their genuine enthusiasm for this piece, and I can tell the difference between real emotion and mere politesse.

And while you’re at it, see if you can get them to program a big festival of my stuff that includes all those other pieces too. 😉