Late last week I heard from a composer I met last year at the Composer Institute at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis — Garrett Byrnes. He has been a valuable resource for me and huge help while researching composers, their lives and their relationships with musicians and conductors. It was great to hear from him — he also sent me a gigantic treat: two CDs of his music. I love new music and it’s rare to have so much of it at my fingertips. I now have enough for at least two months’ of listening. More info about him and his music is at his website, Musica Cosmopolita (link in blogroll).
The Minnesota Orchestra’s Composer Institute, organized and run by composer Aaron Jay Kernis and Beth Cowart at the Minnesota Orchestra, will be in October this year. They partner with the American Composers Forum to give up-and-coming composers the opportunity to have their music rehearsed and performed by the orchestra, to work with the conductor (Osmo Vanska again this year), to talk with the musicians and staff and to take seminars in which music industry professionals talk about the business of being a composer. I attended last year’s reading rehearsals for research purposes: I needed to see composers and a conductor/orchestra working together in rehearsal, as well as get a feel for how the conductor-composer working relationship goes for Evan’s relationship/friendship with composer Owen te Kumara in Book 2 and now subsequent books. How cool and energizing to watch Osmo Vanska working with the orchestra, too! I’d forgotten how much I love orchestra rehearsals.
And to hear a piece of music for the first time — sound that has not been heard before in that way — is exciting, too, interesting, sometimes mystifying, provocative and fun. The energy pulses inside the orchestra on stage, erupts in questions from the musicians (“Osmo! Osmo!”), flows back and forth between conductor and musicians. Mr. Vanska may ask the orchestra to work hard, but he also works hard right with them, anticipating problems, working through difficult passages. Each composer introduced his/her piece to begin, then had the opportunity to speak with the conductor as the rehearsal progressed, huddled together on the podium or standing at the edge of the stage. It is a creative process in motion. Can’t wait for this year’s Composer Institute.