"I'm addressing two audiences," said David Woods, Dean of the Indiana University School of Music. Already with a full day of music making behind them, SCI members heard the Dean welcome them and the other audience that easily outnumbered the composers in the Musical Arts Center Auditorium. The Dean was talking about the Bloomington community and it was true. The first person I met at intermission said that he and his wife retired to Bloomington "for the music." "There were concerts at the University every night," he said, and although he didn't always go to new music events, he knew all the composers. As if to prove it he offered to introduce me to Bernhard Heiden and his wife, who had been sitting in the third row.
The conference had begun the previous evening with a composition department student recital. Not many SCI members had arrived yet, but Don Freund, the conference host, took this less-than-perfect spot to involve department students while reserving most of the prime spots for out-of-town members, regrettable only in that there are some very fine students at Indiana. One of them, I can't remember his name, drove the van back to the hotel. We joked that it was job training. I remember many years ago a conference at University of Iowa: The van driver was Gerald Chenoweth, now on the faculty at Rutgers.
Following the Dean's remarks Paul Biss conducted the incredible Indiana University Symphony Orchestra in performances of works of five SCI composers. Richard Brooks' tone poem Seascape began the concert. Made up of the prelude and epilogue from his opera Moby Dick, the music easily evoked the immensity of the ocean and the ominous presence of the great whale.
After a Line by Theodore Roethke, for orchestra and Soprano was a somewhat lighter and more lyrical piece, beautifully sung by Maria Williams. Composer John C. Ross modestly said in the program notes that one day he might, in another version, do the poem justice. Perhaps, but this version was a fine and evocative vehicle for the Marvin Bell poem.
David Baker's Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra was clearly popular with the orchestra performers. They seemed particularly to warm to the jazz elements of the last movement. (I preferred the "waltzy" second movement.) Daniel Perantoni performed with the skill one expects of this fine performer who ably exploits the tuba for the giant horn that it is.
The final piece was Donald Erb's Violin Concerto. No stranger to SCI conferences(!), Don's energy and vitality were everywhere in evidence, particularly in the dramatic ending. The excellent performance by violinist Miriam Fried (and I gotta mention that crushed red velvet dress!) received long applause from audience and orchestra.
Overall, this concert was a bit on the dark side (Luke Skywalker, where are you when we need you?) but it was raining in Bloomington. Unfortunately, I arrived barely in time to get a sandwich before the orchestra concert and didn't hear the afternoon concerts or papers. Anyone else that was there, please don't hesitate to "chime in" and fill in some of the blanks.
This "Day One" report is being sent to the SCION distribution list. Anyone wishing to add to it should send your contribution to the SCI office. Martin (who couldn't come to the conference this year) will be able to batch future reports together as we move into DAY TWO. (It's already "day two" here, and I gotta sign off.)
From Bloomington, Indiana
The morning panel that I made it to was Audio and Music on the WEB. Roger Johnson voiced his concern that composers not become marginalized on the WEB as they have in other media. Audience participation was lively, such as a remark from Larry Austin. About those masses and masses of music available on the internet (and independent of context) he said: "We run the risk of turning it all into crap ... including my own crap."
Tom Lopez demonstrated the SCI website on a large screen and linked from there to the SCI streaming mode site at Ohio State University, selecting a MIDI example by John Winsor, which played instantly, and a segment by Ren Weidenaar. The latter, a compressed audio, took about 30 seconds to buffer. Technical quality of music accessed through the internet continues to be a problem, but all agreed that it was only temporary. As a delivery system the internet may lack in quality for the time being, said Roger Johnson, but it has the undeniable advantage of access.
John Danby demonstrated on-line accessibility of printed-type music on the internet through acrobat which was a surprise to some. Payments for downloading, royalty or otherwise, he explained, were on the honor system.
David Gompper presented material from a recent PBS teleconference entitled: Am I a Crook?. Over 600 institutions participated in a satellite uplink to participate in this conference on copyright law on the internet.
From the floor, Cleve Scott cautioned that some universities were claiming as much as 60% ownership for materials posted on their web sites. While university facilities are clearly utilized in such cases, 60% is clearly excessive.
The National Council and Executive Committee met in the afternoon (which is why I didnt make it to more events). Don Freund received the first of many formal "thank-you"s for the incredible job of coordinating the conference. He reported that he received in excess of 700 scores from SCI members. "I could have put on three conferences", he said. The most challenging of the officers reports was from Dorothy Hindman who criticized SCI's level of commitment to local chapter formation. Recent problems with BAMA, currently SCI's only chapter, could have been avoided with closer communication on matters of tax deductions and reporting. She proposed a set of guidelines for the future formation of chapters if SCI should choose to move in this direction. Voting on the issue will not take place until tomorrow's meeting.
The evening concert was preceded by the keynote address from guest composer Karel Husa. Speaking candidly he lamented the current conditions in his native Checkoslovakia where a happy composer might get only two performances in a year. He contrasted that with the thousands of performances possible in this country, and kindly credited SCI for making many of those possible. In a touching and personal conclusion he wondered what the next fifty years in music would bring.
After the keynote address Stephen W. Pratt conducted the University Symphonic Band in Carleton Macy's Summer Solstice, a beautifully transparent pastoral-type setting that was well served by a delicate (and in tune) performance. Don Freund's Perotinitis: A 12th Century Infection for Symphonic Band, did not at all evoke the black plague or other medieval maladies although the humor was definitely infectious. The organium of Perotinitis (Alleluua: Nativatas) got a rollicking good run.
Unfortunately, I missed the Wind Ensemble (the second half of the concert) except for the Concertino for Piano and Wind Ensemble by Karel Husa. Superbly played by Edward Auer, this was the climax of the evening. Conductor Ray E. Cramer created an excellent balance between soloist and ensemble, and everyone clearly enjoyed this piece. Indiana University cordially hosted a reception in the lobby following the concert.
There were so many fine performances and papers that I missed. I do hope that others will add their impressions of the conference (perhaps after getting home and to their e-mail). Send any conference reports, comments or suggestion to the SCI office to be distributed to the members. By the way, the forcasted rain did not materialize, and it was a beautiful Spring day in Bloomington.
This morning the National Council and Executive Committee approved the necessary by-laws to initiate SCI local chapters. "Local chapters? Don't we already have enough of those?" That comment (from the recent SCI questionnaire) and others like it made me realize that burning issues for some of us are non-existent for others.
Local chapters really are a new step for SCI. Strictly volunteer, they will be made up of those members in a small geographic region (driving distance has been suggested) who want to conduct local activities on a regular basis. A dues rebate to the chapters (similar to the way we do it for regions) will help support those activities. It is also expected that chapters will want to do their own fund raising (using SCI's tax exempt status), and they may also want to avail themselves of SCI's fiscal sponsorship program.
Fiscal sponsorship was the second big innovation to come out of the SCI NC/EC meeting. Some members thought the start-up of this program meant that the Society had money to give away. (Don't we wish!) But fiscal sponsorship is when SCI can serve as an intermediary between the institutions or individuals granting the money and the recipient. Some foundations and state agencies, for instance, require a 501-C3 (tax exempt) corporation to receive grant monies while others require some degree of oversight, management, or audited financial reports. All these things SCI is gearing up to provide. Thanks went to Barton McLean whose Integrated Proposal stimulated much of the discussion concerning these issues. Without his prodding the NC/EC might still be sitting on some of these proposals.
Wednesday was a day of meetings. One of the problems of your reporter (moi) being cook and bottle washer (as my grandmother used to say) is that I didn't hear many pieces (although there were a few which I'll mention in a moment). But speaking of bottles, Dorothy Hindman, who proposed the final guidelines for chapter formation, is expecting a new chapter member of her own (albeit a very small one). We'll be sure to announce the happy event on SCIMEMBERS.
The SCI Business Meeting (all members invited) was held in a Japanese restaurant. We had the whole basement to ourselves: an excellent location. Student membership was the topic du jour. Some members clearly felt that the National Conference should be open to performances by student composers. After all, they are the future of the Society. Others pointed out that student works would reduce the number of performance slots available for full members whose dues, after all, are supporting the Society. The topic got a bit warm. I can say from an administrative point of view that the single most common complaint I hear is that "my music hasn't been played at an SCI National Conference for the last five years/a long time/ever" (choose one). Perhaps this is an issue that should see some discussion on SCIMEMBERS, our listserv.
It was pointed out that the student commission (winner of the SCI/ASCAP student commission competition) will be presented from now on at our future conferences. This year's winners, to be presented at next year's conference, were selected in judging today and will be announced at the banquet tomorrow evening. Fran Richard, who was at the meeting, was acknowledged for ASCAP's generous support in making the competition possible.
And speaking of next year's conference, David Gompper announced that the 1999 SCI National meeting will be held in New York City. Events are to be shared among Queens College, New York University, and Mannes School of Music (hosts Hubert Howe, Jr., Dinu Ghezzo, and Henry Martin, respectively). To keep the choreography as simple as possible, events will probably revolve around a single school each day, with two days either at Queens College or NYU.
I promised to speak about some of the music performed, but this report is getting too long. (Tomorrow for sure.) I want to thank those who have already responded to these daily reports. One person pointed out that it was a little flippant of me not to "remember" our van driver's name, and I agree. I'll try to make amends tomorrow.
"The envelope, please!" Winner of the 1998 SCI/ASCAP Student Commission Contest is Howard Yermish, a doctoral student at the University of Southern California! And surprise, surprise, he was there, at the conference. Formal presentation will not be until next year in New York when his commissioned piece will be performed, but Howard had come to Bloomington because his Five Images was on the 8:00 concert Friday night. The piece (which was the one entered in the contest) was a septet based on his personal reactions to five paintings. Only three of the five "images" (I, II, and IV) were presented on Friday's concert.
Second prize was shared between two composers ... (by the way, this is not the official announcement, my day reports are only gossip <g> to let you in on conference news as it happens). Anyway, the judges felt that two entrants were deserving of the second prize, so it is to be split (I don't have the details; that'll come out in the Newsletter announcement). Emily Doolittle at Indiana University was one of the second prize winners, and Stefan Freund (Don's son) at Eastman School of Music was the other.
Seven entrants were awarded honorable mention. Those were Karim Al-Zand, Harvard University; Christopher Arrell, University of Texas at Austin; Andrea Clearfield, Temple University; Daniel Kellogg, Curtis Institute of Music; Hye-kyung Lee, University of Texas at Austin; Joy Spainhower, Cleveland Institute of Music; and Daniel Worley, University of Michigan. Congratulations to all the winners and honorable mentions! The announcement of next year's competition is being prepared now. I understand there will be some changes in the deadlines and maybe some other requirements.
Over half of Saturday's performances were vocal pieces (14 out of 27). Three different choral groups appeared on the 1:00 concert. In the middle segment Carmen Tellez conducted the Contemporary Vocal Ensemble in Herbert Bielawa's From Rants II. Written for choir and solo violin the two movements were entitled "You can't tell me" and "You drive me crazy." The balance between the solo violin (David Gilham) and choir was excellently managed, the choir not allowed to dominate the violin until the very end. The audience especially enjoyed the humorous "rants" of the second movement. The heart stopper, however, was during the applause when Herbert leaped onto the stage to shake conductor Tellez's hand. He made it (it looked over three feet to me), and he leaped back down afterward. (Just how old are you, Herb?)
Dorothy Hindman's I Have Heard began with the quiet use of syllables as percussion and moved into a lyrical setting of the Whitman text. "The theme of celebration of the self greatly appealed to me at the time I wrote the piece." said Dorothy in the program notes. (By the way, when the performance was over she did not leap onto the stage.)
You can't think of the Indiana University Music Department without thinking opera. SCI was very fortunate to have the participation of the Indiana University Opera workshop, Mark Clark, Director, Edwin Penhorwood, Music Director, and Lynn Morrow, Conductor. The Saturday 10:30 concert presented scenes from six SCI members' operas.
In the hilarious scene from Michael Kallstrom's solo opera Ghosts!!, the singer happens upon a ghastly toe which, for some reason he takes away with him. When "Scary Harry" shows up (the same singer) to reclaim his lost body part he laments at length that people find him "scary" because he is so "hairy."
The scene from John Beall's Ethan Frome (from the Wharton novel) takes place just prior to a suicidal sled ride (understandably a bit more reserved than the preceding offering). The music beautifully conveys the intensity of good people caught in a hopeless love triangle.
The story of the futuristic Euphonia 2344 is drawn from a satire by Berlioz. Larry Austin, recently retired from academia (he keeps rubbing it in!), creates the sounds of hybrid orchestral instruments as Berlioz might have imagined them to be in the year 2344. In an expertly synchronized performance (the tape uses a click track) soprano Itsuko Shibata portrays a bored diva contemplating the dullness of her many male admirers. Despite the pleadings of her chocoholic mother she decides go to the great city of Euphonia where she will doubtless become the lover of a renowned composer by the name of Shetland.
The contrasts in this concert were stark. Next scene was from Antigone, by Larry Christiansen, we heard the dramatic and intense duet of Antigone and her lover Haemon over the corpse of her brother Polynices. It was well received by the audience (even the corpse got a round of applause). Larry, by the way, is also a copyright lawyer.
In The Magic Pipe by Phillip Rhodes the witch "Mother Rigby" creates a scarecrow by her black arts. Exceedingly pleased with her work, she decides to go all the way and bring him to life. He responds poignantly to her coaching for "real life." Alas, his fate is to be an instrument of the witch's vengeance: he will woo the daughter of the village mayor and thereby bring his downfall.
The Mirror by Donna Kelly Eastman adapts elements of three traditional Japanese tales. Some indigenous instruments were written for (recorders played the shakuhachi parts). The four characters act their doubles (their mirror images) for a total of eight characters. The drama of this segment (we heard the entire final section of the opera) was particularly good. Donna said that The Mirror was written as a souvenir piece from her stay in Japan in the 70's.
You can't hang around an opera workshop without hearing jokes about singers. This was a new one I heard from a composer: "What's the difference between an operatic soprano and a Pit Bulldog. ...... The answer is ........... "jewelry!" (Oh dear, apologies to sopranos everywhere!)
Having sunk to jokes it's time for me to sign off. My thanks to Sam Magrill and Robert Frank who were able to fill me in on selections from the opera concert that I hadn't heard. Also thanks to Bryan Burkett and James Paul Sain who helped in the transmission of these reports to the office where they could be distributed, and of course, to Martin Gonzalez who faithfully dispatched the reviews to the SCION list.
As you could tell from my reports, I heard relatively few of the performances at this excellent conference. Nintey-Six pieces were performed in all. I urge others who attended other concerts (or the same ones!) to send in their impressions, thoughts and comments, too (use email@example.com). We'll try to include them on the SCION distribution list, too.
A final word of sincere thanks to Don Freund, his students, his colleagues, his wife, the entire Indiana University School of Music. Everyone pulled together to make a great conference. This will be a hard act to follow.
(back in New York)
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