Day 1: Benjamin Taylor – Underwood New Music Readings: From the Composer

Day 1 of ACO’s Underwood New Music Readings
by Benjamin Taylor

Taylor Foumai Stucky
Benjamin Taylor, Michael-Thomas Foumai & Steven Stucky
Day 1 – Underwood New Music Readings
Wow! What a whirlwind of a day! Today’s session was a serious high-octane ride. The day started at 8:00 a.m. meeting with composers Robert Beaser, Derek Bermel, Steven Stucky, and Melinda Wagner, ACO Executive Director Michael Geller, and ACO operations staff Greg Evans and Jules Lai. Enjoying a nice breakfast, we made introductions and then met individually with the composers and conductor George Manahan. While my meetings were only a few minutes long, they were very useful to clarify a few spots I thought would give the orchestra trouble, as well as answer a few quick questions. I wasn’t feeling nervous until we sat down in front of the orchestra. Wow, what a sight to sit five feet away from all that acoustic power! Peter Fahey’s piece, Impressions, opened the session, and then my piece, Leaving White, was second. Sitting in the “hot seat” (directly behind George Manahan and between Steven Stucky and Robert Beaser) was certainly intimidating, yet at the same time, it was reassuring to feel their support. On the whole, the orchestra did an incredible job sight-reading my piece. I made many notes while listening to the first full run-through. They then went back and did the second half of the piece again with huge improvement. I kept getting those “oh-my-goodness-I-can’t-believe-this” chills. I couldn’t stop smiling! So much of the piece was working even better than I had envisioned. We then enjoyed listening to Pin Hsin Lin’s piece, Symphony No. 3, Michael-Thomas Foumai’s piece, Concerto for Orchestra, Ryan Chase’s piece, The Light Fantastic, and Paul Kerekes’ piece, timber. After working with the orchestra, we spent the afternoon receiving excellent feedback from a team of musicians from the orchestra as well as from the mentor composers. This evening, I’m preparing my errata sheet, which allows me to apply some of the feedback I received today. I can’t wait to hear the piece again tomorrow!

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