Last week, I completed 50% of my journey as a Masters student in Music Composition at Michigan State University. If there is one thing that I have learned from this school year, it’s that a Masters program flies by quickly!

In my previous post, I was under a lot of pressure with deadlines, competitions, and institutes. I am glad to say that I won in the new music category of the MSU Honors Competition! With that said, my piece, Test Drive, will be performed by the new music ensemble, Musique 21 during the following school year. I will keep you posted on the performance soon.

With Brevard, I had no idea where I would land, since of all the institutions in the United States, Brevard is considered as one of the best institutes for composers. I was placed on their waiting list. This is great, since now I’m on their radar…meaning that they’ve noticed my potential and hopefully when next year arrives, I’ll have a better chance of getting accepted.

UNL Chamber Music Institute on the other hand, denied. To be honest, I was quite shocked with the denial, since I was on Brevard’s waiting list, but Nebraska, which is great for chamber music with very good composition (not like Brevard), denied. I guess this could be due to a small number of chamber ensembles that applied to the program. Whatever the reason was, I can’t complain too much with how successful my first year as a Masters student was.

For this summer, I have a lot of projects on my plate. For starters, I’ve been working on a song cycle for baritone voice, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano (similar to the Pierrot Lunaire ensemble “Eighth Blackbird“). Silent Music is comprised of three songs based on poems from three poets: Ana Bozicevic, Patrick Phillips, and Floyd Skloot. I’ve been able to communicate with all three of them and they were thrilled that I was interested in using their work into a song format. Hoping to have this piece finished by the end of the summer.

Then, the big granddaddy of the two: my thesis! Kind of scary really. I’m planning to compose my thesis for full orchestra, and my goal is to complete it by the end of my first semester in order to use this piece for the Honors Competition in the Orchestra division, along with other institutions.

Hopefully, I can give you more updates on the progress of these works as well as giving you some heads-up on what’s going on.

It has been about a month since the last post.

I have not been able to work on many pieces in July because I was given the opportunity of arranging a brass band work for orchestra. In this particular case, it was for the Jackson Symphony Orchestra along with the trombone section of the Capital City Brass Band. I finished the project last night and the arrangement will be performed on Saturday, July 30th at 7:30pm in the Jackson Community College Potter Center.

This project has been a milestone for me, because in the past, I have worked on smaller transcriptions, and sold a copy of Fantonium to a euphoniumist in the U.K., but I have never arranged a work from a large ensemble to a larger ensemble.

I hope you get the chance to check the performance out. Unfortunately, this performance is not free, but it’s not expensive! If I’m wrong on the price, let me know. $4

So far this summer has been filled with a lot of events as well as vacations and work.

I am excited to say that I finally got feedback from a euphonium artist after one year of handing the solo to many professional euphonium artists at ITEC 2010 in Tucson, AZ. Gretchen Renshaw, masters performance major from University of Arkansas, was the first person to send me feedback! I hope to send her a few more pieces and eventually work on collaborations.

I’m also excited about a new project that I’ve been investigating in. For the first time, I have been asked to arrange the Blades of Toldeo for Trombone Trio and orchestra for the Jackson Symphony Orchestra. There is one problem however…the piece was copyrighted in 1979. The JSO and I will have to look into the copyright laws in order to successfully perform this piece as well as making money. Let me give a brief explaination about the copyright laws (it’s a HUGE subject).

Whenever someone completes a composition, book, movie, art, then you can copyright your work. Once that work is copyrighted, you CAN NOT arrange the work until the death of the composer plus 75 years. That’s a long time to wait, but don’t worry there is a way to arrange a piece much sooner. According to the MPA (Music Publishers Association), you must contact the publisher of the piece for permission to use that piece by filling out a sheet called Request for Permission to Arrange. Then you play the waiting game for their approval and then once they approve, then you can arrange.

Unfortunately, many musicians are not aware of these laws and serious consequences will rise if one arranges or performs without permission. For example, on April 14th, 2010, the Sparta Winds woodwind quintet performed a recital of new works by Phillip Sink, Evan Bushman, and myself. After they perform our pieces, they did an encore of either Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance or Pokerface (I don’t recall). Technically, they could have been in trouble for arranging a recent song into a woodwind quintet set up, but they did not. The consequences usually results in a fine between $1,000 to $100,000 depending on the severity of the violation.

If you would like to know more about how the copyrights laws function, click on this link: MPA Copyright Resource Center

I hope everyone had an amazing Thanksgiving break!

Tomorrow on November 29th is the reading session of orchestration projects/orchestral works. Read by the MSU Symphony Orchestra. My most recent work, Ewe, will be read around 12:40pm-1:50pm. I will let you all know how the reading session went.