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.

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.

Well, it has been over 1.5 months since my last post and I must say a lot has happened since.

Where to start? Oh yeah!

Well, I have managed to find 17 musicians, including myself, who will be performing in my capstone recital on April 15th at 8pm. The only problem is that I am having a difficult time finding a violinist. I had two violins, then both of them could not perform, found one, but no luck on the second violin. It will work out eventually. Meanwhile, I have been finalizing my rehearsal plans for the recital, and so far it is looking great.

A couple weeks ago, I found out that I have been accepted to Michigan State University for my Masters in Music Composition! Now I know that I will be going to graduate school. As for The Ohio State University, I STILL have not heard from them which concerns me, but I’m not worried.

Now for the composition part of this blog, what am I doing?

Well, I have been working on a set of Concert Etudes for piano: six etudes. I am currently working on the fourth movement of six, as well as editing the first three movements. In addition, I started working on an unaccompanied solo for euphonium. The idea of writing a piece such as this for euphonium came from the influence I took from John Stevens, Soliloquies.

ONE MORE THING!!

Two days ago, I received an email from Dr. Hutcheson regarding the results for the Honors Competition for Composers at MSU. I am happy to say that I was the runner-up in the orchestra portion of the competition! The best part of the competition was the judge. The judge was none other than the amazing David Maslanka! The email contained many comments from Maslanka. Even though my piece was not the most dominate piece in the competition, the fact that David Maslanka was the judge of this competition was a win for me and everyone else who competed in the competition.

Of all the semesters of MSU I’ve had, I would say by far this semester is the most adjustable (credit wise). But to be honest, this semester will easily be the most busiest one of them all.

This semester, I have a capstone experience recital on April 15th at Michigan State University. For those of you who are not aware of capstone experiences, it’s a fancy title for a senior composition recital. Currently, I have enough musicians to perform five of my compositions. I’m still looking for one oboe and two violins. What is very special about this recital, besides the fact that the music is exclusively by yours truly, is the premiere of my Concerto for Saxophone. I find this Concerto to be one of my favorite concertos, since it’s focus does not apply to pushing the performer’s abilities as a soloist, but rather, tells a “musical” story behind it. In addition, my brother Eddie, is the soloist, and from past experience with trios, duets, and rehearsals at Wind Symphony, he is the definition of determination. He’s always more than willing to experiment with new ideas, and new music; he never hesitates a challenge.

As far as euphonium, I advanced to the MSU Honors Concerto Finals. Unfortunately, I did not win as the performing soloist, however, I was very content with my performance. In addition, I am planning to have euphonium recital sometime in late March/early April. Further info soon.