“the paris incident” world premiere

I was very pleased to be able to attend the world premiere of my orchestra piece, “The Paris Incident”, on July 23rd, at the Urbana High School Auditorium. The Urbana Pops Orchestra, conducted by Stephen Larson, did a fantastic job with a difficult piece, and I couldn’t have been happier. You can see this terrific performance, here! Thanks to Debra Larson for the video footage! Enjoy!...

“love taps” returns

I’m incredibly pleased to announce that Love Taps is once again hitting the stage here in Chicago, in the spring of 2014. Originally conceived by Chicago Tap Theatre Artistic Director Mark Yonally and me in 2010, Love Taps introduces you to a cast of lonely urban dwellers, and then invites the audience to play match-making website. Every night the choices are the same, but the endings can change, based on what the audience chooses. The original score featured lyrics from a number of poets, lyricists, and writers, but – for the new version – we’ve pared all of the songs down to their instrumental roots. The new arrangements – created by music director Kurt Schweitz, my associate Jordan Lewis, and myself – will be performed by a small ensemble of multi-instrumentalists – guitar, bass, keyboards, piano, mandolin, and accordion – live on stage at every performance. The script – or bible – for Love Taps has been beautifully rewritten by Marc Kelly Smith (creator of the poetry slam), and will feature some new music written especially for the revamped version of the show. Starting March 14th at Stage 773, we hope to see you there! Here is some music from the original to whet your...

urbana pops orchestra – “that’s no moon” recap

I had the great privilege to be one of the judges, this past weekend, for the Urbana Pops Orchestra’s First Annual Student Composition Contest. Junior High, High School, and College students from the Champaign-Urbana (IL) area were invited to submit original compositions – written for orchestra – to be considered for a premiere by the UPO at their space-themed concert, “That’s No Moon!”. We had three excellent submissions in the Junior category, carefully scrutinized by my fellow judge, LA-based composer Kyle de Tarnowsky, and me. The winner, “Cold Moonlight,” was written by 16-year-old University High School student Daniel Stelzer, and given its premiere, between Holst’s Planets Suite and John Williams’ suite from Star Wars, this past Saturday. Not bad company for your first premiere! His lyrical, evocative piece was a lovely contrast to the other pieces on the program, and a remarkable work for a young composer. We were so pleased with this experience, and we’re looking very forward to see what the talented young composers in the Champaign-Urbana area bring to us for next year’s contest. Again, congratulations, Daniel! On a personal note, I got sing in the choir on “Duel of the Fates” from Star Wars Episode I, which – with the full orchestra – was exhilarating. Thanks to the UPO for asking me to join them for that. Getting to be a part of a big ensemble executing this legendary film music gave me a renewed appreciation for the power, complexity, and brilliance of this music, and the importance of live music, both in film and in our lives. Bravo to the UPO, and we’ll see...