(And the world sure as heck isn’t waiting for another singer…)
On our first full day of fresh inc festival 2013 we were treated to a Skype session with thought-provoking composer Jacob Ter Veldhuis, also known as JacobTV. He is responsible for the title of this post and the reminder of the day when he recalled, “when I started writing music, no one asked me to write for them. The world is not waiting for another composer. You have to say what you want and hopefully people will be interested.”
I grew up in post-war Europe. The 50s in Europe were colorless. Everything that had color – everything that was joyful came from your country. The more exotic it is the more interesting I find it. I have to be fascinated by something I don’t know so I can look at if from the outside… Don’t write music for someone else. I want to communicated but I can only communicate through my voice. – JacobTV
Jacob is an inspired choice for the first guest speaker at a festival like fresh inc. He consciously chose to write for instruments that did not have a lot of contemporary repertoire or even solo material (like accordion) so that his music would have more traction. The audience is important to his work insofar as he wants them to feel the magic of music. There should be elements of surprise as well as recognition. He reinforced the mission of the festival to explore the gap between the classical training composer and performer participants have had in school and the skills they desperately need to make it in the field today.
There’s a big difference between attitude and confidence. – Aaron Todd Douglas
Aaron Todd Douglas, a familiar face and skilled actor on Chicago stages, joined the fresh inc crew after lunch to discuss public speaking and stage presence. As singers, the finer elements of these areas are driven into our heads from first sing to last dress rehearsal. However, I bet there are still a few that get a special set of butterflies when it comes to speaking from the stage in recital or introducing their pieces in front of a judges panel. Douglas was a warm and encouraging presence while carefully helping participants reframe negative thoughts and replacing that with behaviors of empowerment.
The most offensive thing we can do is make [our audiences] feel dumber after reading the program notes. – Herine Coetzee Koschak
After a short discussion regarding audience-tailored program notes, the members of Fifth House Ensemble performed the first salon evening of our fifteen days together. It was heartening to hear a dear friend’s piece first on the recital, “Ocean Body” by Jason Charney. Charney was a festival participant in 2012 and his work was an engaging first piece leading the audience from muted, ethereal harmonics from the violin (Drew Williams), viola (Clark Carruth), cello (Herine Coetzee Koschack), and bass (Eric Snoza.) The piece builds motivically and expands in dynamic range; ultimately culminating in stratospheric violin pitches seemingly lifting the ensemble off of the water. The following duet for flute and clarinet, “Steam”, was also written by a previous participant. Inspired by the steam punk movement, the work features movement titles such as “Rusty Cogs and Filigree” and “Clockwork”. Melissa Snoza (flute) and Jenny Woodrum (clarinet) displayed exquisite technique and the assets of their instrument.
Similarly, Crystal Hall (oboe, english horn), Karl Rzasa (bassoon), and Woodrum were able to inject a sense of mystique into Jesse Limbacher’s “Air.” The piece begins to take shape as the performers blow into their instruments letting the air pass through creating a rushing wind effect. Amidst the rhythmic clicking of keys, short melodic fragments take shape interspersed with intensifying guttural and plosive utterances.
Finally, the participants were invited to gather around Melissa, Herine, and Jani Parsons (piano) to watch the score while they performed George Crumb‘s (b. 1929) “Vox Balaenae” which was conceived as chronicling the story of time. Crumb was strongly influenced at the time by whale song which inspired many of the characteristic sounds in “Vox Balaenae.”
With days this full, you can understand why I’m already off to a late start on the dispatches. I will do my best to keep up while getting all of my repertoire in tip-top shape. Thanks for coming along again with me for those of you who are back and welcome to those that are new to the “dispatches” series. Enjoy!
- 6 Questions RE: fresh inc 2013 Festival with Melissa Snoza (sybariticsinger.com)