I’m a songwriter (?)

Just a quick post from a little hotel room in downtown Washington, DC to share that I am here this weekend for TEDxMidAtlantic: Unbreakable.

Photo stolen from Janet Noh

Since last year I have been taking a much-needed break from the writing of concert music and have turned my attention toward the writing of… songs. So far, the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop has been my primary source of credibility in that regard, but recently I was also given the opportunity to write a song with which to close the final TEDxMidAtlantic session on Saturday evening (this is a TEDx that particularly enjoys musical performances). I have rather unimaginatively titled it after the conference theme, “Unbreakable.” Joining me are vocalists Carla Canales and Janet Noh, as well as some members of the local DC Youth Orchestra Program. Many thanks to TEDxMidAtlantic, The Canales Project, and El Sistema for making this happen.

Still under construction—and some juvenilia

As the title above subtly suggests, this site is still very much under construction, though I can hardly wait to get this blog up and running. Now, my curse is that I’m a musician who hates attention, and if I had my way I would live alone in the woods in a cabin of my own making alla Thoreau, but alas, I am a prisoner of civilized life, a man must make a living, etc., etc. Anyway, you may have noticed some stirrings here and there, particularly in the music section; well, stay tuned. There are many things I want this site to be: obviously, a place of business where folks can come find information about me and my work, but more than that, a humble little corner of the internet devoted to my story. Naturally, it will be a confused mish-mash of many different things … so here goes!

To that end, I cannot recall a clear beginning to my life as a composer other than that I always saw composing as a natural extension of playing an instrument—in my case, the piano (my younger self would have been utterly baffled by the thought of someone who could play but not write music). And even though I was a decent pianist for a child, I learned early on not to be too attached to the instrument: first, when I discovered that my favorite composers of piano music—Mozart, Beethoven, and the rest—all wrote orchestral music with not a piano in sight; and second, when I discovered that one could write music on a computer. My very first piece, a little tune for piano, was written totally on the demo version of NoteWorthy Composer and completely unplayable by any human.

By the time I was 12, I had written my first orchestral piece: an untitled three-minute tune, very Mozartean but completely lacking in grace. The symphony orchestra quickly became my favorite musical medium, as it still is today, and after that I wrote a few more orchestral pieces (including two movements of a terrible piano concerto), which, for better or worse, are now lost forever. But eight years later (and eight years ago), with a little tweak here and there, I sent Orchestral Piece No. 1, onto which I slapped the title Orchestral Caffeine Rush, as part of my application to the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music. Until today I don’t know what in the world they were thinking by accepting me, but God only knows where I’d be now if they hadn’t. I offer the piece below, in gloriously rendered MIDI, as my thanks to you for visiting my site and reading this far:

Under Construction

Hello!  I have begun to migrate from my old site to this one, in an effort to create something more authentic, whatever that means. I have known for a while now that the one-word identity of ‘composer’ (and worse, the two-word identity of ‘serious composer’) wasn’t quite doing it for me, but was unsure of how to break away from it. So lately I’ve been performing more, writing songs (including my own lyrics), and of course, my work with Carla Canales and the Canales Project keeps me busy most days. So this will be an experiment, a work-in-progress, an ongoing document of my musical adventures—and who knows what else?—here in New York and beyond. I humbly thank you for tagging along.