I am usually lurking behind the scenes of this Blog - proofing posts, suggesting concerts that Chip should review, loudly proclaiming my opinions and hoping that he will agree with some of them and generally making a nuisance of my self.
Last night however, we discussed my taking a more active role, for two reasons: I am unemployed and have the time, and his graduate studies are subsuming so much time that the Blog is suffering.
My input will bring a slightly different flavor to these pages - unlike Chip I am not classically trained from birth. Although I have been singing since I was 3 years old, all of my training was by ear, and by the time I was taking choir in school I could anticipate music well enough to never bother learning to truly read music. This led to trouble when the two of us attempted to write our first musical together. I had definite ideas of what the music he set to my words should do, but I had no language to convey them - we teetered on the brink of divorce each more frustrated than the other at the lack. It became obvious that I would need a musical education so that we could speak a common language. Thus our sojourn in Edinburgh.
I began my musical education as a singer and fully intended to study voice throughout the degree, but in the first year I was required to take a composition course and a new love was born. I have always enjoyed writing (I have a children's picture book and 1.5 novels to my credit), but the expression of creativity in musical notes opened an entire new dimension of communication to me - I was hooked and promptly switched majors.
Due to my unique background, my approach towards writing for classical orchestra and ensembles is considered apostate by many in the academic sphere. I like music with a strong rhythmic base (music you can tap your foot to), prominent melodic lines and a sense of story. I really respond to composers such as Scriabin, Copland and Bernstein.
As a child I listened to recordings of Mozart, Beethoven and the rest, but I never attended an orchestra concert. My father was a professional sound man and I worked for performers such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, Mel Tillis, Dolly Parton, Willy Nelson and 100s of others at open air concerts across the American West. I pestered thousands of band members to show me how their instruments worked. I spent countless hours learning songs or singing the fiddle lines in a given piece that had caught my attention. I learned to judge the true performers and see how they connected with their audiences. This is the background I bring into the concert hall and although it can put me at a disadvantage in the classical world, it also gives me a level of insight all my own.
So - my first post will be a review of last night's Eric Whitacre concert at Denver University. I hope you enjoy it. Cheers, Eddie