Wednesday morning we continued with our series of music sharing sessions. Presenters included Michael Ippolito, Ashley Fu-Tsun Wang, Gabriele Vanoni, Dan VanHassel, and Dylan Sheridan. We enjoyed getting to know more of our colleagues' music. This session brought up some interesting topics of discussion, such as the process of transcribing our own music for a different instrumentation, as well as the challenges of fusing together our diverse, treasured influences in a way that is unique to us as individual artists.
Meanwhile, the performers continued rehearsing the new works. Now that the first few rehearsals are out of the way, the musicians are getting deeper into the music. many rehearsals have consisted of highly disciplined technical work, i.e., turning on the metronome and gradually working towards a faster tempo, while getting all the notes to fall in the right place; I can hear percussionists practicing my piece like this right now from across the yard as I'm writing this. The slow practice helps everyone internalize the music, while the gradual speeding up ensures that they will reach the proper performance tempo with confidence. In the many rehearsals I have visited, I have been thrilled to see the way everyone is so devoted to bringing each new work to life. Both performers and composers are showing a willingness to be flexible, experimenting until they find just the right rendering of a given passage of music. And the great thing is, we all live right here in these two buildings, so it's easy to run up to the room and take a nap between sessions, or go for a walk, or check emails on the back porch. This location gives us the ideal blend of convenience and flat-out gorgeous scenery!
Wednesday night five of our participant composers had a chance to present their music to Matthias Pintscher in order to gain his insight on their work. These composers included Ashley Fu-Tsun Wang, Evan Meier, Dan VanHassel, Gabriella Smith, and Gabriele Vanoni. This session ended up lasting several hours, full of fascinating discussion. Pintscher showed a wonderful sensitivity to the musical language of each composer. He was very encouraging, affirming the most successful aspects of each piece while offering constructive criticism. He also insisted that each composer give a brief verbal introduction to their piece, as though they were addressing a large audience at a concert, or an orchestra at a rehearsal. When some displayed a lack of confidence in their presentation skills or artistic development, Pintscher would not let them off the hook. He implored them not to recoil, but to express themselves with passion, because each of them has a unique voice as a composer and as a human being. In relation to the music, he discussed both general issues and specific details. One of the more controversial - and lengthy - topics of discussion was the issue of how notation expresses the character of the music. Pintscher insisted that the notation should communicate every detail of the music, but do so in a way that does not provide obstructions and distractions. Throughout the discussion, he also invited comments from the rest of us, creating a symposium-like setting that made for an inspiring and memorable evening.
(left to right: Dan VanHassel, Gabriella Smith, Matthias Pintscher, Gabriele Vanoni, and Evan Meier following a score during the masterclass)