Thursday, July 7, 2011

Is creativity always in a box?

This is a fascinating talk by David Byrne about how the spaces where music is performed have contributed to the style and form of the music.

An interesting way to think about how music has evolved in particular and how the creative process is affected by the culture in which it is created.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Vienna Symphonic Library

I've started working with a new Virtual Instrument that sounds phenomenal. I never thought a fake orchestra would ever be able to fool me. But this one does. Not all the time. But a lot of the time. Pretty exciting tool to discover at this point in my composing life.

Now let's see what I'll make with it...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Orchestral music, finally

Last month I finished my first composition for full orchestra.
A big deal? Yes.
Hard work? Yes, absolutely.
But what a blast I had, working mostly at night for over 6 months, after the kids were in bed.
I spent some time listening and following along to some beautiful music.
Debussy's, "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun".
Beethoven's later symphonies, some Brahms.
Stravinsky's "Petrushka", which I have always loved so much and "The Rite of Spring".
I also very much enjoyed Michael Gandolfi's "Garden of Cosmic Speculation" and was thankful that he made the score available on his website.
I even read through the good old "Principles of Orchestration" by Rimsky-Korsakov.

The piece started with a simple melodic idea, the pitch content of which my friend Paul mentioned, is the same as the old song "I've Got Rhythm". Now, I certainly would never claim to have rhythm, but I did the best I could with that pitch material. The inspiration for the melody of the piece comes from the music I made for a short film a number of years ago. The imagery that I found so inspiring was that of a misty Autumn day on Mount Holyoke in western Massachusetts . Here is the original musical idea.  a meeting like this by Evren Celimli
So the next step is to get my 15 minute orchestral piece "Colorful Mountains Cry For You" performed. I have sent it off to the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute and will hear back from them sometime this summer.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

a busy year, music and children

I've been spending a lot of time being a father to my wonderful girls who are getting big too quickly. My oldest is nearly 5 and her sister has already had her first birthday and her first taste of chocolate cake.

Somehow in the midst of all this growing up, I've been able to make some new music. In December 2009 I released the music for the video game Zaku. It is available for download from iTunes and my own website. An old fashioned plastic disc can be purchased at CDBaby.

In June I completed Movement Mandala 13, 43 minutes of music for the choreographer Murray Spalding. The piece premiered in New York at St. Mark's Church June 24. As always, I am so amazed and baffled by the dancers. They performed beautifully in a very hot and steamy room for 45 minutes without a break! Thank you to all of them for giving the piece form and life.

Evren Celimli: Zaku Vanquisher of Boredom

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Commonwealth School Film Festival 2009

My wonderful high school is hosting a film festival this coming weekend.
The award-winning documentary "Beyond Belief" which features my music will be screening along with many, many films created by my fellow alums.
Here is a link to the film festival's webpage.
Happy Fall to all!

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Death of the Old Guard

One month ago Joe Maneri passed away. He was one of the lightest, most joyful spirits you might ever come across. His death left me feeling a little lost. I was not so close to Joe. He was never my teacher or mentor, our relationship was much more mundane and so perhaps I take for granted the impact he had on so many. I used to see him when I would go over to his house to hang out with his son Mat. I've known the Maneri family since 1984 when I was 13. As I make my way in music, I always come back to Joe and his music, to Mat and his. Their music is inspiring to me. I know that Joe is bringing his bountiful love on to the other side and the angels are laughing and crying as he plays and I cannot wait until the next time I'll hear Mat play live again. I hope it will be soon.

Now, just as I was beginning to feel the joy and freedom of his music again in my heart I have just read that another great being has passed: Francis Mason.

Francis Mason was a kind, generous and joyful soul. He helped me get my start composing music for dance during my time in New York. He took me to countless shows and rehearsals and introduced me to so many choreographers that I lost count. Two of the choreographers he introduced me to I collaborated with many times, Doug Elkins and Ben Munisteri. Francis used to take me for lunch to the Century Club; one of those old world, quiet, marble, member's only clubs for artists and writers. It was an inspiring place, but not as inspiring as his homes in Manhattan and Rye. Both were quiet and calming, filled with books and plants. I was honored when he asked me to write an article for "Ballet Review Magazine." I learned from him and enjoyed spending time with him. My deepest sympathy goes out to his daughter, his son and especially his grandchildren whom he spoke so warmly and lovingly of every time we were together.

Peace to all who are left behind, striving.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Mermaid

I spent my high school years at a small, inspiring and supportive school in Boston called the Commonwealth School. Commonwealth was founded by Charles Merrill in 1958. In celebration of the school's 50th anniversary a gala event was planned. In April of 2008 I was commissioned to compose a choral piece to mark the occasion.

Together with Janetta Stringfellow, the director of development for the school, we decided to ask my friend, poet and journalist Ethan Forman (class of '84) to collaborate with me. My first impulse and thought for the piece was to compose something very joyful and celebratory, like a fanfare.

I had not composed a piece for chorus since my senior year of high school. I was both excited and a little scared that I might not be able to pull it off. To make the process even more difficult, I wanted to compose a joyous and celebratory piece as I said, but Ethan kept writing poetry that was far more reflectively joyful than exuberantly celebratory. I also spent a lot of energy worrying about the complexity of the music, the intellectual rigor of it. The bottom line is, I kept getting in my own way. For me, this is consistently the biggest hurdle in the creative process.

I finally gave in to the reflective nature of Ethan's poetry in August, one month before the finished piece was to be delivered to David Hodgkins, Commonwealth's music director, so rehearsals could begin.
Once I let go, I was able to complete the piece quickly. I composed what I thought was a beautiful melody for the soloists to share and supported it with a flowing, tidal accompaniment sung by the chorus. The whole thing worked out pretty well I think. I was actually relieved that the accompaniment did indeed serve as a good support for the melody. It might have obscured the melody since it is a bit busy.

The finished composition was premiered Saturday October 25, 2008 in the Cyclorama at the
Boston Center for the Arts in front of a crowd of 750 alumni, parents, friends, faculty and staff of Commonwealth School. What an amazing feeling it was to hear all those voices singing the music I had struggled to create. It was such a beautiful and moving event and I am honored to have played a part in it.

Thank you Charles Merrill for your creation.
Thank you Janetta Stringfellow for asking.
Thank you Ethan Forman for your poetry.

Thank you to all of the Commonwealth School family who make it such an inspiring place to grow.

Happy Birthday!

Commonwealth School Gala, pt. 2-The Mermaid from Commonwealth School on Vimeo.

And here is the text:

Remember the mermaid who swam in from overseas
Born from a city's resistance

She taught you how to wag that tail of yours
And wave a sword of victory
She beat her sword into ploughshares
And hung her long locks on hooks
Despite her tail she dragged her books upstairs
No Pyrrhic victories here

She was just a girl who learned to walk by taking the subway
Back and forth to school
Learning for her was like the tides
Something she'd come back to again and again...

Remember the mermaid who swam in from overseas
Born from a city's resistance

Now each fall a new crop of mermaids come
Eager for sword and ploughshare lessons
Searching for meaning in struggle
Preparing for a life of action
Mermaid don't dwell too long
On all those crushes and first kisses
Don't wait too long
To celebrate and sing about your memories

She was just a girl who learned to walk by taking the subway
Back and forth to school
Learning for her was like the tides
Something she'd come back to again and again and again...