The dissertation and the symphony are finished. It's been an interesting (and sleep deprived) two years. I upgraded my software and computer and bought new plugins for Logic, and I had already decided I wanted to experiment with the new gear once I finished the degree. I was initially planning to start by remastering the scores from The Monkey's Paw and The Man in the Bowler Hat, and I'm still working on that project. Once it's finished, I'll upload it to YouTube.
I recently collaborated with Augustine Christian Academy on a film titled Man in the Bowler Hat. Taylor Drake teaches film there, and he was the director. I wrote the music. Everything else was done by students, and they did a phenomenal job. I've been really impressed by this school! I'm looking forward to tonight's premier! It's at 7pm at Augustine Christian Academy (6310 E 30th St, Tulsa, OK 74114). There's a $3 entry fee. Seating is limited.
I am flying to New Jersey to defend my dissertation proposal. I have research scheduled for Sunday and Monday (February 18-19). Unfortunately, I will need to cancel the sessions on those days.
I am working on a Ph.D. in Music Composition at Rutgers University, and as part of my dissertation I am running a study that will hopefully define relationships between music and the individual perception of said music. I am seeking volunteers willing to participate in this research. I will be posting periodic reminders as the study progresses. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
It's hard to believe, but we've been back in New Jersey for a month. (I'm taking a German course...not for fun. My degree requires it.) I time here has been incredible. Perhaps my favorite moment so far was seeing "The Children of the Light" trio (Danilo Pérez/John Patitucci/Brian Blade). I love Danilo Pérez! (Here's a recording of Bright Mississippi.) I'm looking forward to seeing the Dave Holland Trio at the Village Vanguard this weekend. We've been incredibly busy, so check out Instagram or Facebook for more pics. I caught a picture of the sunrise over New York City this morning, so I included that here. We'll be here for another two weeks, and then we start our week-long journey back to Oklahoma City. We're going to take the long way home in order to visit all the states north of New Jersey. We'll also make a stop at Niagara and cross into Canada. We'll be in Oklahoma for two days, and then we leave again for Florida. The SCU jazz combo is playing at Youth Quest in Orlando. This summer is brutally busy!
Anyway, the real reason for this post concerns Finale and Sibelius. I have spent around six months finalizing scores and exporting them from Sibelius. I'm hoping to finish this week, so I can upgrade my MacBook. Once it is upgraded, I'm going to try Finale and see if I like it. I've been using Sibelius for over 15 years. I know I have friends that are interested in learning more about Finale, and I assume there are other Sibelius users out there that may be interested as well. Granted, it's not so much that I'm "switching." I will still have Sibelius on my computer, but I will not be paying the yearly fee...if I like Finale. If Finale doesn't work for me, I'll continue to use Sibelius as my primary notation program. Once, I use Finale for a few weeks I'll post my findings.
This is concert season, so there are a lot of options this time of year. Last night Bekah and I traveled to Weatherford to hear the SWOSU Wind Symphony. It was an impressive concert. They played Grainger's "The Gum-Suckers" March, which is one of my favorites. They performed two fairly new works as well. Paul Dooley's "Masks and Machines" was fantastic, and its climatic ending was especially striking. Steven Bryant's "Ecstatic Waters" was not like anything I have ever heard. It combined computerized sounds with live performance, and it involved an especially wide dynamic range. We enjoyed it!
Tonight we're attending the final University of Oklahoma Wind Symphony concert conducted by Dr. William Wakefield. (Dr. Wakefield is retiring from OU. He has been there for over 30 years.) It will, no doubt, be a moving concert. They will be playing works by Maslanka and Grainger.
Sunday the Southwestern Christian University choir performs at 3pm. I'm looking forward to hearing Dr. LaCombe's group. They always sound great. Monday night the SCU jazz ensemble performs a fusion jazz concert at 7pm. Our guest artist is trumpet player/composer John Shell. I cannot believe this year is almost over!
...when you're having fun. I just realized it's been awhile since my last post. ("Awhile" is probably an understatement.)
SCU Jazz: We officially launched the Southwestern Christian University Jazz Ensemble last spring. They had their first concert in May 2016, and since then they have performed regularly. They have had three concerts this school year, and they also served as the entertainment at the school's homecoming banquet.
We have one more concert on April 24th. It will be a jazz fusion style show. Trumpet player John Shell will be the guest artist, and the band will be playing some of his music.
This July the band is scheduled to perform in Orlando at Youth Quest, which will be a ton of fun!
Compositions: "What Is Eternally Unseen: Invisible, as Music, but Positive as Sound" was finally finished in December. It is a band piece dedicated to my saxophone teacher, William "Roddy" Hull. I actually started the piece back in 2008, and the work has gone through numerous changes over the years. I have never worked so long on a piece, but I felt like it needed to be right. The SWOSU Wind Symphony read through it shortly after OMEA, and I feel like it went well. (Big thanks to Marc Mueller and the wind symphony for taking time to read the piece.) I also finished "Polyopia," which is a percussion piece, and "4 for 7," which is my first official attempt at jazz.
OMEA: In January, which doesn't seem that long ago, we traveled to Tulsa for the Oklahoma Music Educator's Conference. This was the second year for SCU to have a booth there. It's always a pleasure to go to OMEA and catch up with friends.
Ph.D.: In December I completed my qualification exams, which is a relief. Bekah and I are going to be back in New Jersey for six weeks this summer, so I can complete a German course. Once I complete that course, I will officially be ABD.
I'm spending the day recovering from a busy week at the Oklahoma Bandmaster's Convention in Tulsa. It was a ton of fun, but I am exhausted. Ed Huckeby, James Swearingen, and Robert W. Smith spoke, and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing what they had to say. All three of them are well known as educators and composers, so they had some interesting insight on teaching music. (Ed Huckeby highlighted his new sight reading method. It is definitely worth checking out. James Swearingen spoke about rehearsing music from the standpoint of a composer. Robert W. Smith detailed a unique perspective on using music to teach creativity. He also explained the overall importance of creativity within our modern culture.) The OBA/OKJE All Star Jazz Bands had an outstanding concert yesterday as well, and the DCI Drums of Summer was phenomenal. It was an absolute blast! I look forward to next year's convention. If you are a band director in the Oklahoma area, you should definitely go. It is well worth the money. I never leave disappointed. :)
Michael has experience writing music for film, band, orchestra, choir, percussion ensemble, and various chamber groups. He is the Director of Bands at Northwestern Oklahoma State University.