A Busy Fall

It has been an overly busy fall.  Hence, the scarcity of posts the last 2 months.

I have been busy with several projects, and everything has turned out well, it seems:

  • Music Flash Class iOS 8:  Some of you may use Music Flash Class, a highly configurable app for note recognition. It drills, teaches, tests, and even has a group oriented game in it that gets kids hopping out of their seats. I initially wrote Music Flash Class in 2011 because there were no apps that allowed me to teach note reading the way I like to, and still there is nothing as configurable as this app on the market. It survived bug free through iOS 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7, but iOS 8 broke it, and I was faced with reworking it. That is now completed.  Several teachers who emailed me about the app volunteered to test it and make sure it worked on a variety of devices.  I formally submitted Music Flash Class for approval last week, and I’m hoping that Apple releases it today or tomorrow.

  • Impulso: Concerto for Marimba, Flamenco Guitar, and Dancer: For much of the past year, I have been collaborating with the tremendously talented flamenco guitarist Chris Jacome on writing a concerto. It was premiered mid-November by the University City Symphony Orchestra near St. Louis, and then performed again by the San Tan Orchestra near Phoenix. Flamenco is a fascinating art form. Not only do its harmonies and scales sound exotic to our American ears, the meter can be fascinating. Frequently Flamenco music is written within a 12 beat compás (sort of like a measure), where the downbeat shifts between beat 12 and beat 1, and the subdivisions vary (e.g., imagine counting 12 beats like: 1 & 2 & 3 & a 4 & a 5 &). One unique aspect to this piece is that the dancer’s footwork is written on a percussion line in the score, so the dancer’s contribution to the performance is intrinsically integral to the whole effect of the work. My wife Maria Flurry played the marimba, and Chris’ wife Lena Jacome was the dancer. Audience reaction was stupendous, and we are working on getting it performed again in multiple locations.  Thank you maestros Leon Burke and Katie Shields for trusting your orchestras with our music!
  • Master’s Degree in Composition: I’ve been accepted into two schools for a master’s degree in composition. Preparing those applications required the assembly of my composition portfolio, studying for a Graduate Music Entrance Exam, and writing a theory paper analyzing a work of music. (I’d long ago thrown out all of my papers from my undergraduate days!) Both programs are mostly online based, with Skype lessons for the composition lessons. I hope to make a choice on the school next week, after I have more complete information on each school. I am excited to be studying again and to be challenged at a new level. Classes will start in January, and I will complete my master’s no later than spring 2016.

As for December, this is the first December in years that was not filled with deadlines. I am looking forward to having the time to attend the concerts that pop up this time of year and to take some time to say, “Hello” again to my family!

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