Alicia Enstrom’s Frenzied Whispers


These two books have been tremendously helpful to me recently in thinking about how to approach orchestrating Alicia Enstrom’s composition for solo violin with electronics, “Frenzied Whispers.” In considering ways to have a chamber orchestra interact with loop pedals and the generated repeated patterns, Bachelard’s chapter on miniatures has provided plenty of food for thought, like his musings about how “as soon as the imagination is interested by an image, this increases its value,” and this quotation from a Botany dictionary, of all things: “Reader, study the periwinkle in detail, and you will see how detail increases an object’s stature.”
Ben Ratliff’s thoughts about recordings where “the air around the music becomes an almost tangible quantity” have helped me think about how pizzicato notes from a string section and harp harmonics and the decay around a note produced by soft yarn mallets striking a marimba can compliment the space created by the reverb in samples triggered by a solo violin. And this: “Feeling the rhythm is not too far from playing the rhythm, and one’s response to a repeated tone is to replicate the tone for yourself, hold it in your head, think along with it or sing along with it, and experience the musician darting above it and below it, putting it against other notes and chords.”

I think we’ve come up with something pretty cool that should be fun to witness. We’re performing it with a great group of musicians this Saturday at 3:00 at West End United Methodist, under the auspices of the Nashville Concerto Orchestra. I hope to see you there!

Tokens Radio Show – arrangements for Jenny & Tyler

Happy to be a part of the Tokens Show season opener again. I’ve spent most of the week writing string and harp parts for the show (Jenny & Tyler’s cover of the Simon & Garfunkel classic “The Sound of Silence,” was especially fun, as was their song “Faint Not”), and am awfully glad to join Host Lee Camp and Music Director Jeff Taylor in putting together this music.

Mahler’s 3rd

This week has been all about Mahler. I first heard his 3rd Symphony in 2009, performed by the New York Philharmonic, and between the opening theme played by 9 French horns and the off-stage trumpet solo in the 3rd movement, and the breathtakingly gorgeous beginning of the 6th movement, it became an immediate favorite and one I return to frequently. So when the Nashville Symphony announced they were closing their current concert season by performing the 3rd, I blocked off some time and dug out my Mahler books and scores. So far I’ve heard 5 hours of rehearsal and 2 of the performances, and I’m going back tonight to hear the final performance. Ah, Mahler…