In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I will explain about one of my projects: (un)balance. When I moved to Modesto, CA, I was at a local coffee shop figuring out what else needed to be taken care of before I started my new job. While I was there, I kept receiving breaking news messages on my phone. The news was on the protest in Charlottesville, VA. When learning about this, I was furious because even though I was aware some people felt this way (white supremacists), I was not expecting the riot to be horrendous. This hurt me personally in many ways: my involvement in an interracial relationship, my personal connections with those of minority, and our sanity as a country.

(un)balance is for saxophone quartet, string quartet, and dancers. The idea is to have the two quartets collide against each other. For instance, the string quartet uses pure, bold pitches while the saxophone quartet uses raw, quick smears, slap tongue, stomps, and multiphonics. The collisions progress through the work. At some point, silence breaks through and a sense of unity is made by the two quartets and dancers.

This project is currently on a deadline for September 2018 in collaboration with choreographer Breanne Horne. Saxophone and string quartets TBA.

Keep the good fight going and take action on this day. #mlkday

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.

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!

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!