I’m in Milwaukee, WI, visiting family for the last four days, spending every moment I can submerged in cool Lake Michigan. I Flew in from Rome, Italy, where I’m living now, on July 10th, and am flying to Denver tomorrow morning. After reading the blog posts from my fellow composers invited for the readings, I am relieved to hear that I’m not the only one that has nightmares about part extraction and the spectacular train wrecks that could happen….
I wrote this piece in May 2009, at the MacDowell Colony. I had just started reading Italo Calvino’s fascinating American Lessons – the Norton Lectures that he wrote for Harvard – and was inspired to begin a series of works based on each of the lectures, which I believe are universal, not just for writers.
For me, the most nerve-wracking part of launching a piece into the world is the first time I hear musicians rehearse it. Sometimes performers don’t like to have a composer present at a first rehearsal, and I completely empathize. It’s very difficult to make sense of a fresh score, never played before.
What is a modern, major orchestra like, I ask myself. Is there still a sense of the old totalitarian regime that once reigned under Toscanini? If the 4th desk second violin player has a problem, does he whisper it to the 1st desk 2nd violin, who whispers it to the concertmaster, who gingerly asks the conductor? What will happen if I want to say something to the orchestra? Will I be able to?
I know I won’t sleep tonight, nervous and excited for the adventure to come. I’ll see you all in Denver!
Thank you to all the hardworkin’, fantastic folks at ACO and in Colorado who have made this amazing event possible — I am really honored to have been selected.