The Unanimous Composer: How to Network

Tonight, I will discuss about how to network efficiently. This topic is universal in terms of occupation. (Notes will be updated during/after livestream)

https://player.twitch.tv/?channel=composinggoat

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2016 Review: Artistic Rebirth

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2016 was an unusual year for me. It is strange to think that since 2008, I have had at least one composition premiered and that streak had ended in 2016.

At first, I thought this was a sign of my career starting to fall apart due to my studies as an arts administration major. In some ways, it had been. During most of this year, I have not composed as much as I have wanted to, although it was not because I had lost interest in writing. If anything, my desire to compose grew so much that I wondered why did I really go back to graduate school as something other than a composition student. I felt like an outsider in both worlds of administration and composition.

That was until May when I moved to Chicago, IL to work as an administrative intern for Eighth Blackbird, Third Coast Percussion, and Ensemble Dal Niente (more information on my responsibilities as their intern in this post. During the three months in Chicago, I finished my first composition of 2016, Why is This? for solo violin (will explain the meaning of the piece in another blog post). Shortly after finishing Why is This?, I took a brief break and explored Chicago’s beauty. From the Ravinia Festival to Hyde Park, I was enthralled by everything Chicago had to offer. I was also blown away by some of the greatest performances of new music I had ever witnessed. Not only in performance, but the approach and commitment that was displayed!

One evening, I sat on the edge of the lake fill across the Patrick G. & Shirley W. Ryan Center for the Musical Arts and I had an epiphany. I realized that my music since 2011 was inspired by a common idea: transitions and connections. With the exception of A Quest for Tuba, all of my music from 2011 were based on events that had happened to me personally: Saxophone Concerto was inspired by my time applying for graduate school, The Two Siblings was somewhat based on my relationship with my brother Edward GoodmanCalm was indirectly based on my struggle handling the end of a seven year relationship (even though the text is supposed to be a parody covering the actual meaning), and now my current project Skyline is based on my experiences in Chicago.

Since then, I believe I have truly found my voice as a composer. I see myself as a composer for the people: a composer who not only composes with artistic merit, but one with the desire to build a “bridge” that connects audiences to art. While I realize many people might have not had the same experiences as me, I believe that to some capacity, they can relate to them from someone else’s perspective for better or for worse.

As I am typing this post, I am glad that it had been difficult for me to compose at the time. If this was not the case, I probably would not have had that epiphany.

May 2017 be in your favor.

Eighth Blackbird, Third Coast Percussion, Ensemble Dal Niente, and my time in Chicago.

Earlier today, the second year masters students of the Florida State University Arts Administration program had the opportunity to share their experiences about their internship to the first year masters students. It is with no question that we all had a great experience with our internships, regardless of the overall outcome. Even though we were only in the classroom for about 75 minutes, I have yet to truly explain about my experiences in Chicago. With that said, I was inspired to write a blog post about that time.

When I first started applying for internships, I struggled at finding an organization to apply for. The students were given a list of suggested names of organizations where previous students interned at. The problem was that none of the organizations were new music ensembles, nor new music emphasized. At the time, I was not sure what to do. One day, a few students from the Introduction to Arts Administration course watched a live stream of International Contemporary Ensemble‘s panel which featured bassoonist and Director of Individual Giving, Rebekah Heller. Based on the numerous community outreach and educational projects Heller mentioned in the panel, something clicked! From that moment, my goal was to find a new music ensemble that offered internship programs, or even create my own opportunity with one. As I was researching for internships, I realized one of my colleagues on Facebook was a former Eighth Blackbird intern. I contacted Amanda Gatt about my interest and shortly after, she connected me to the program director. From there, the rest is history and I was offered an Administrative Internship with Eighth Blackbird as well as Third Coast Percussion and Ensemble Dal Niente.

That summer, I moved into a townhouse apartment in Evanston, IL where one of my brother’s contacts suggested a place to stay. Evanston was a convenient location for me, because it was a place for me to relax after my shift was done in northern Chicago (not far from Wrigley Field). While it was a nice location, I barely had any sleep since I was too excited for the opportunity I had been looking forward to. Still managed with so much energy and inspiration!

My duties were in many areas of the arts administration field. They ranged from the basic office work/errands to more specific projects in development, operations, productions, marketing, and even assisting with a music video for Peter Ferry and Marc Mellits. This was helpful for me, since before the internship, I was not open to exploring other fields besides operations and production. After the internship, I had become more interested in development, due to the overwhelming responsibility you have for an organization (writing grants, updating databases, recruiting donors, renewing donors, etc.) From the perspective from an arts administrator, I would grade all three organizations an A, because of the amount of experience that I acquired through this internship. I am confident that with this experience, I will be able to go into the real world and fit well in the development field.

I will not end the blog post there. I still have to explain the artistic aspect of my internship “Wait, artistic?! That was not part of your responsibilities as an intern!” Well, you thought wrong, did you?

Along with the amazing experience internship, I was blown away by the overwhelming new music scene in Chicago. There were so many opportunities for concerts and performances to the point where I thought I was dreaming! I had the opportunity to watch a number of performances by Eighth Blackbird, Third Coast Percussion, Lakeshore Rush, Fifth House Ensemble (Fresh Ink), Contempo, and Matt Ulery’s Trio. I was also able to meet and spend time with a number of musicians like Lisa Kaplan, Marc Mellits, Chris Sies, Augusta Read Thomas, and caught up with a few friends including Ricardo Lorenz. I am most likely missing a large number of names and ensembles, but nevertheless, you are all included in my experience.

Through all of this exposure, something unexpected happened. During the spring, I slowly got back into composing. I stopped for a brief time, because of how overwhelming the arts administration program was. Nevertheless, I tried and tried. Around June, I was absorbed in the community and around then, I told myself that I was going to make a comeback in composing! Since then, I was able to finish a piece for solo violin and am currently working on a piece for Pierrot Lunaire ensemble!

Throughout this experience, I have come to the conclusion that once I graduate from Florida State University, I plan on moving to Chicago to further pursue my career as an arts administrator and as a composer. If it does not work out, I will plan on moving somewhere in the Midwest where I can work for an arts organization and stay in Chicago during my vacations!

Charlotte New Music Festival: A Gem of Its Own

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As I am sitting in my chilly apartment in Tallahassee, Florida, I ran into an interesting thought. For the first time in three years, I am not applying to music festivals for composition, but instead I am applying for internships. It is a nice change for once to look into a field different from my previous one. Last year was a unique experience for me, because not only I was able to attend two music festivals in June, but the latter created a new interest for me. That interest was to one day establish a new music organization that created new opportunities for composers which currently do not exist. These include jobs, ensembles, performances, performance halls, collaborations, and educational organizations. Essentially a database for composers. This interest was confirmed by the Charlotte New Music Festival.

While the CNMF is fairly young at 5 years, it is a powerful underdog when compared to many music festivals. The festival comprises of three components:

  1. Max/MSP Workshop: Where composers work on their craft on Max/MSP and have the opportunity to perform in a laptop orchestra.
  2. Composers Workshop: The main portion of the festival. Composers will have the opportunity to study under some of the most recognized composers and professional musicians around. These include: Iktus Percussion, Bent Frequency, Joel Hoffman, Paula Matthusen, and Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon. (more information on the guest composers and guest musicians here.)
  3. Dance Co-Lab: Where a select number of composers will have the opportunity to collaborate with a choreographer for two weeks. They will work with Arlynn Zachary, Vincent Thomas (FSU alum. Go Noles!), and many more.

Last summer, I was assigned to collaborate with a small, but spontaneous and fantastic choreographer Breanne Horne. Throughout the festival, we created a six minute piece called Habitual Metamorphosis which was performed by The Great Noise Ensemble and six dancers.

Aside from the Dance Co-Lab, this would sound like an average music festival. Well, allow me to go even further.

Considering that the festival is entering its 5th season, that stat alone is impressive. In addition, this is one of the few music festivals that allows composers to have their music performed by professional musicians (many of the well-known festivals only use student performers.) There is also an opportunity for composers to truly collaborate with others, on and off the rehearsal. Some of the musicians will stay on the same floor with the composers which allows for further collaboration as well as knowing them personally.

The reason why I have dedicated a post about CNMF is because of the overwhelming experience that I had. I also had the chance to learn how difficult it was for artistic director Elizabeth Kowalski to start CNMF in a city that is well known for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the Charlotte Bobcats, and the Carolina Panthers. I personally believe that this festival has the potential to become a powerhouse in its own field despite the interest of Charlotte. I am sure many of the CNMF alums can attest to what I have said and perhaps add on to it, so please comment if you have any additional thoughts!

The deadline for the Charlotte New Music Festival is this Friday, so please take the time to look over CNMF and have an experience that you will remember.

Composer Workshop and Dance Co-Lab Link!

Max/MSP Workshop Link!

Call for Scores by the Tallahassee Chapter of Classical Revolution

The Tallahassee Chapter of Classical Revolution is having a call-for-scores for the spring semester.

Interested composers must submit one composition that fits the following requirements:
1. Compositions must be between 3 – 8 minutes in length.

2. Compositions must be written for instrumental solo or mixed chamber works.
• Instrumentation of all kinds, except percussion and voice, are acceptable.
• Space is relatively limited. Therefore, submit pieces that involve no more than 6 instruments.

3. Compositions with electro-acoustic music elements will be accepted at this time.
• Keep in mind that this will be performed at a bar. Therefore, pieces involving a large, complicated set up will not be accepted.

4. Being present at the event is not required but encouraged.
• While transportation will not be accounted for, home stay can be accommodated if requested.

5. Works by “emerging” composers are accepted at this time.
• Emerging in this context is not referring to age.

6. Resume incentives will be given if selected.

Submit the following materials to email –
1. Score in PDF format
2. Live/studio recording in mp3. (MIDI is acceptable but not encouraged)
3. A contact info document with brief education background.
The deadline is Jan 1st, 2016. Selected works will be notified at least four weeks after the deadline by email. The concert date is on April 28th.
For any questions or concerns, contact Michael Goodman. michaelgoodman9@gmail.com

Important Message: Thank You.

Usually when I write reflection posts on my year, I usually talk about the great and not great moments of my career and myself. This time, I will not talk about that, because I do not want anyone to think that all I talk about is me, me, me!! Rather, I will take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped me throughout this year as well as making my life better.

First off, I would like to thank the Capital City Brass Band for giving me the opportunity to perform in a high-level ensemble while I am no longer in school. Ensembles like the CCBB do not come by that often. Hopefully one day, a brass band composition may be in the works.

Next I would like to thank Sarah Manasreh and Tia Harvey for “indirectly” motivating me to start exercising at a gym. To make a long story short, the three of us were watching the Rose Bowl game and somehow gyms were brought up. At the time, both of them joined a gym, but I did not. I thought to myself, “My life is stressful. I’m not happy. I want to make some changes.” Since then, I have lost around 30 pounds, have gained some definition and I’m planning to keep this up for a very long time. On top of that, I feel great!

I would like to thank Joel Hoffman and all of the composers/musicians/locals I met at Milna, Croatia. While this was the first time I traveled out of the country, besides Windsor, Canada, it was the first time since my graduate years where inspiration and motivation struck me deeply. All of us had different musical backgrounds and many of us had gone through the struggles that I’m currently going through. There were emotional times, but also plenty of laughs, and musical moments. Some of us STILL keep in touch to this day, but then again, we are a family. By the way, I would love for someone to send me coffee from Europe soon! Perhaps Anđela or Lucija could send me some European coffee…

I would like to thank all of my friends and family for motivating me, supporting me and looking out for me in every way possible. Without you, I would not have made this post. As 2015 comes closer, I will make sure that I continue to improve as a better musician as well as a better human being. From the bottom of my heart, I love you all.

– Michael Goodman

Call for Scores!

Unanimous is pleased to announce a call for scores for one of their upcoming concerts in their debut season.

Unanimous is a student/alumnus run new music ensemble from Michigan State University that focuses exclusively on works by emerging composers. Works that are submitted to Unanimous must meet the following requirements:

  1. Compositions must be between 5 – 15 minutes in length.
  2. Compositions must be written for instrumental/vocal solo or instrumental/mixed chamber works only.
    1. The following instrumentation will be available by Unanimous: fl, ob, cl, sax, tpt, tbn, euph, 2 perc., pf, gtr, SATB voices, 1 (maybe 2) vn, va, vc, db.
    2. While you are allowed to submit pieces that involve instruments not listed above, the chances of being selected are low due to the difficulty of finding additional musicians.
  3. Compositions with electro-acoustic music elements will not be accepted at this time.
  4. The composer’s name must not appear on any of the materials. Instead, submit the materials with a pseudonym. If selected, we will ask you to submit the materials with your name on them.

Submit the following materials to unanimousensemble@gmail.com

  1. Score in PDF format
  2. Live/studio recording in mp3. (MIDI is acceptable)
  3. Short bio less than 150 words.
  4. A contact info document with the composer’s real name.

The deadline is Dec 1st, 2014. Selected works will be notified two weeks after the deadline by email. The concert date is currently TBA sometime in late March/early April.

Unanimous, new music ensemble!

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Hi everyone! I hope you all had a great summer break.

I will say very quickly that my trip in Milna, Croatia was an amazing experience! From meeting composers with the same interest as me who are also quite talented, to exploring many parts of Brac was truly something that motivated me for the first time since last year. I would love to fly back there, but for now, we need to move on. I will talk more about Croatia later… but first check this out!

Recently, I formed a new music ensemble called Unanimous. Unanimous is a student/alumnus run organization that will spread the awareness of new music by known and emerging composers to the Lansing area and beyond. Although the group originated from four musicians, the committee, we have 12 musicians in the roster and growing. Like Michigan State University’s Musique 21, we work on a rotation cycle, so not everyone will be here.

Our schedule features many great opportunities that you won’t want to miss! Starting on October 17th, we début out first concert in Cook Hall at MSU which will feature pop-minimalist music from composers David Lang, Bill Ryan, Marc Mellits, Dan Becker and Louis Andriessen. Then between December 1st and December 3rd (still figuring out which date), we will feature a theatrical concert at the RCAH Theater on MSU’s campus. This particular concert will feature three compositions by myself, which relate thematically, and Natalie Moller’s Lepidoptera, which I highly recommend watching!

The second semester concert dates are unofficial, but one concert will feature a shared concert with Ann Arbor’s Willo-Collective, and another is a call-for-scores concert, which I will post the details later today.

My intentions for this ensemble is to make Unanimous a professional ensemble and not a one year deal like many ensembles before. Assuming that this season goes well, we will look into performing in festivals, and other parts of the U.S. to spread the word about Unanimous.

Advice for Emerging Composers: Life Outside of School.

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Today, I am here to give you an update on how my time as a freelance composer has been so far. I will also give some advice to those who are about to dive into the world outside of the comfortable academic circle.

I jumped out of the academic lifestyle last May when I graduated with a masters degree in music composition at Michigan State University. At the beginning, I managed to work on three composition projects: euphonium sonata with piano, clarinet/percussion duo, and a grade IV band piece (eventually adding a project for percussion trio in December). While this was all exciting and fun, life quickly became quite stressful and unsatisfying. Although I was no longer bound to the assignments/projects that was required in school, I had to find a way to manage my schedule so I could compose effectively while working for my Dad and teaching at Jackson College. This resulted in me being very exhausted, making my projects much slower in the composition process. I even had to postpone a project because of how overwhelmed I was. In addition, I was also applying for graduate school for DMA studies and summer festivals.

As time went on, things started to look up for me little by little. I have been able to write more and more music for some of my projects. I completed two composition interviews at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, which I felt quite content with, as well as feeling extremely excited about their composition program! I am teaching at Jackson College with a booming roster of 29 students (slightly more than double my class size last semester!) Throughout this school year, I have been able to travel around the country to meet some of the finest composers for advice on my portfolio as well as my path as a composer. More recently, I have been selected as 1 of 16 composers to study abroad in Croatia for two weeks. So while my experience so far has been mixed, I am truly enjoying my experience as a freelance composer!

Now, for the excited emerging composer/performer/theorist/whatever your “weapon of choice” is, I will give you some useful advice that I have used and learned from many people who have also experienced this moment. Credit for advice goes to Ricardo Lorenz, Carter Pann, David Maslanka, my Dad, and other articles that I have found online.

1. Always be driven to compose music. Many composers have made this suggestion to me and I will do the same for you. No matter what you have on your to-do list, always make sure you are creating music in some way, shape, or form. Even if there are no deadlines/goals, make a goal, make a deadline. It will help you push further and give you some excitement for more projects as well as maintaining the habit of writing.

2. Build and keep up connections/networking. This was a difficult step for me since I have always been a shy person. The key point is to think of everyone as equals. Every composer, from a Michael Goodman to a John Adams, is a human being. We might think highly of Adams, but to the public, he is nothing more than a person. As long as you have that type of mindset, you will have no problem approaching composers and performers unless they are trying to ignore you.

3. Collaborate through symbiotic collaboration. Ricardo Lorenz taught our composition seminar last spring about the process of symbiotic collaboration, which in my opinion should be the new standard of collaborations and commissions. Although I can not go on a large-scale explanation on the concept of symbiotic collaboration, I will say that through this process, you will not only write a piece, but you will learn a lot about a specific instrument/voice, the strengths/weaknesses of a particular musician and most importantly learn about each other. I composed Dialectics with Genevieve Beaulieu and we both loved the collaboration! Do this as much as possible! You will not regret it! (More information on symbiotic collaboration.) Link by Tom Childs.

4. Expect more failures than successes. This step has been and will always be an issue for me, since I consider myself to be a perfectionist. When it comes to jobs, competitions, commissions, graduate school, the chances of succeeding are lower than what we expect. When you are denied a job or a college, it is not an indicator that you are a horrible musician, but rather it either did not meet the panel’s interest or there was not enough room to add anymore people to a studio. Such a frustrating process. Instead of hiding in a corner and moping about your failures, take a look at the failed goal, look at it with glaring eyes and fight back. Failures will help you become determined since you will have something to prove to others the next time you apply.

5. Collaborate with music programs from the K-12 system. Although many composers, including myself, shun at the idea of writing music for the K-12 system, it is a great way to get your name out to the music world; especially if you want to make good money. Also, the public schools are always more than happy to work with composers.

6. Attend as many concerts as possible (specifically new music concerts or concerts with new music). Through this school year, I have been to more concerts and recitals than I ever been to through the six years at MSU. This is great for many reasons. As a composer, you will always learn new things through concerts. In addition, it is an excellent way of making connections with composers, performers, and others associated with the musical business. Two examples: I have been to Ann Arbor for many concerts within the past three months. Specifically the Midwest Composers Symposium and the Willo Collective. At the symposium, I met several composers from Michigan who had outstanding pieces as well as great personalities. I also learned about the overall musical language of each college. At the time, I was quite impressed by the originality each work, which made me challenge myself. I decided to challenge myself by breaking many boundaries to write anything possible. No apologies whatsoever! The Willo Collective Concert, which was at the Yellow Barn, gave me more reasons why I would love to write more works for percussion as well as experimenting with dance.

7. Work on other skills involving your career. These can include teaching, recording services, performing, publishing, conducting, music business, and other venues related to music.

8. Apply to graduate schools? It depends on what you are looking for. If you want to teach composition, then by all means, apply for a masters and a doctoral program. If you do not want to teach, it is not necessary to earn any graduate degrees. For the non-teachers, the only benefit of having a masters degree is that it will give you more time to learn more about writing. Personally, I’m applying for a doctoral program since when I do get a job, I will be able to use the said college as a vehicle to perform my pieces as often as possible while helping young eager composers become better communicators. In general, the goal for composers is to not be a teacher with a job. It’s too limited, too short, and it shows that composing is only a secondary chore and not your main focus. A realistic goal is to live life as a professional composer who inspires to become what he/she truly wants to be while maintaining a decent/fantastic financial lifestyle like teaching.

9. Publicize yourself with confidence. Musicians have to grow a strong skin when it comes to putting yourself out to the small but competitive musical world. It takes a lot of energy and patience, but there will be a moment when something will click. It was not until last year when I had about eleven interested musicians who wanted to play my music. (ten for The Two Siblings and one for Dialectics).

10. Take as much time as possible to reach your goals. What is the rush? Although many people have made this suggestion to me, Lorenz, Pann, and my Dad have emphasized this reason to me through their experiences while away from school (Pann took one year off from Michigan, while Lorenz took five years off before going to Chicago to study with Shulamit Ran). It is normal to feel jealous, angry, and stressed during the first year because everything is so much different from when you were in school. While some people want to get out of school, I feel the exact way when it comes to going back to school! The main thing to point out is that there is no rush whatsoever when it comes to education. Unless an apocalypse occurs, the degree will not go anywhere. Going to college is not a race and neither is art. Music in particular takes many hours to perfect and rushing things will ruin that concept. So enjoy yourself and do what feels right for you.

“Brief” Recap of Masters Year 2. What Do I Do Now?

Hi!

For those of you who are attending school, or teaching, I hope you are having a nice summer break/nice time with summer classes… As for everyone else, I hope you are all well.

Well, ladies and gentleman, as of last month, I have graduated from Michigan State University with a master’s degree in Music Composition. It has truly been an honor that my six years in college were all well spent with some of the finest musicians one could find as well as the many opportunities and memories.

During my second year as a graduate student, I was able to première three new compositions: Piano, Test Drive, and Dialectics. Piano was the first song cycle I’ve composed using the text from Floyd Skloot, Patrick Phillips, and Dick Allen. Sung by Peter Boylan, under the direction of Philip Obado. Test Drive was the piece that won the Honors Competition during the spring semester of 2012, which had its premiere last February. Performed by Musique 21 also under the direction of Philip Obado. Last but certainly not least was Dialectics, an unaccompanied bassoon solo which was written in collaboration with Genevieve Beaulieu as part of MUS 881: Composition Seminar Symbiosis. All three compositions were performed at a level that I have not seen before in my work which I appreciate! Through every premiere/performance/collaboration, I not only learn a lot from what works and what does not work in my music, but I learn even more about my musicians/friends when working on the material. Though the following piece is not a première, The Two Siblings is the first original composition that had its first performance outside of MSU. It was performed at my brother’s saxophone recital in Stamps Auditorium at the University of Michigan campus. Please do not judge, for those of you who are from MSU and Ohio State.

I also had the opportunity to complete and defend my thesis Life Circle. Although I am thrilled with the overall result of the final product, the process was quite frustrating; more so than Fantonium and the Saxophone Concerto. Being that this post only pertains to a “brief” summary, I will only mention a concise statement of the process. This was the first composition that involved not only a real event, but also an event that was a huge contribution to my memories from the past. I will eventually write a post on Life Circle.

As for festivals, I was accepted to soundSCAPE, in Maccagno, Italy. As for the rest of the festivals, I was placed on the waiting list for the second consecutive year for Brevard, and I was denied by FUBIS, June in Buffalo, and Nebraska.

So now that I have graduated from college and I’m not going straight into doctoral school, what’s next?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not an easy one to explain. I am now in the process of applying for many jobs ranging from teaching at a community college, to possibly working with a large music publishing company as a music engraver/producer. I have not heard from anyone yet, but then again, something will come up. I am also more than willing to learn more skills as well.

I am also trying to form a new music ensemble as a way to not only give myself in outlet of my music but an extra opportunity for composers, conductors, and performers to work on something like Musique 21, Neo-Collective, or Alarm Will Sound. The current name of the proposed ensemble is After the Beep, taken from “Please leave a message after the beep…BEEP!!”

This is it for now. As I mentioned earlier, I will talk about Life Circle in the next post as well as my new projects: particularly Elements for clarinet (Sarah Manasreh) and percussion (Kelsey Tamayo).