Diary of an Orchestrator – Mission Estate Concert project, days 16-24

Tuesday, February 11 8:30 a.m. A huge amount of time has passed since my last journal entry. This delay is pretty typical of the ending stretch in a project: the work starts to pile up as everyone involved realizes that they’re much too close to the kill date for comfort. In my case, I was …

Diary of an Orchestrator – Mission Estate Concert project, day 15

Sunday, January 26 Today is a red-letter day in the project. In 7.5 hours I completed song no. 10: “There’ll Be Sad Songs” by Billy Ocean. My tenth song was supposed to be “Mná Na h’Éirann” by Sharon Corr, but I moved up that add-on song I was given a few days ago. I’m sure …

Diary of an Orchestrator – Mission Estate Concert project, days 13 & 14

Saturday, 25 January 7:30 p.m. It’s been a sluggish couple of days, but not without results. I started scoring Mel C’s version of “Both Sides Now” yesterday and finished it today. I don’t know if anything I ever do is perfect, but this score was as close to perfection as I’ve gotten so far, at …

Composers on Camera: Testimony

It’s all about perspective. The true telling of a life story is always from the outside looking in, even for an autobiography. The person telling his life story is the prime source for memories of what was once a different human being, seeing things through a telescope smudged with age and out-of-focus through distance. In …

Composers on Camera: Song of Summer

Recently I reviewed Ken Russell’s Elgar and The Debussy Film, which represent his first directorial efforts for BBC arts programming slots Monitor and Omnibus. Russell’s interests weren’t exclusive to composer biography. He followed up these early films with noteworthy retellings of the lives of artists in other disciplines, such as modern dance pioneer Isadora Duncan …

Composers on Camera: Mozart’s Sister

This film is like a very very expensive home movie: directed by actor-turned director René Féret, and inhabited by his many children, including his daughter Marie in the title role. The focus is not on the prodigy of Wolfgang Mozart, whose music and personality appears as a mere side issue to the thrust of the …

Lili Boulanger in Her Own Right

Author’s note: this article is based on a Composer of the Week programme I scripted and presented for New Zealand National Radio’s Concert-FM. Embedded are links to various works of Lili Boulanger posted on YouTube for the reader’s listening and enjoyment. Saturday, July the fifth, 1913. In the great meeting hall of the Institut de …

Diary of an Orchestrator, April 6: Harp Concerto Notes I

11:55 p.m. Been a very long day, filled with intense personal commitments. Still, there was time for my career, which never stops. Even at my most distracted, it’s always humming along, like that train that I can hear passing by about a mile from window, rippling the soundwaves with its churning as it bites off …

Diary of an Orchestrator, April 5: Rescuing the End of the Concerto

6:00 p.m. Today’s meeting with the conductor and soloist is canceled, mainly because I’m apprehensive about driving to a West L.A. address by 5 p.m. in an expensive borrowed car. Especially after driving on the other side for over a decade. I still feel the instinct to left turn into the oncoming lane, and I …

Diary of an Orchestrator, April 4: San Ber’dino

3:38 p.m. One thing a composer or writer should never be without is a notepad or sketchbook, or in the 21st century, a laptop. Thus my time sitting in the San Bernardino County Recorder’s Office isn’t wasted. The drive out here was uneventful. My borrowed car, a very up-to-date BMW with a nav system, is …