Some Quick Updates...
Self-imposed exile from academia continues! After seven years full-time at American University (preceded by roughly a decade teaching at SUNY Fredonia, depending upon how you count it) I’ve decided to extend my time away from teaching within the ecosystem of higher ed.
Being on leave from teaching throughout the past academic year was rewarding, very productive, and offered a much-needed recharge of the mental and emotional bandwidth necessary to do some stocktaking. Along the way, I regained an honest understanding of my values as an artist and educator and came to know a path whereby those roles can be focused, can thrive, and can nurture and inspire each other. This path, for now, calls me to step away from institutional academia.
A big part of this decision was personal, but it was no doubt greatly influenced by many of the issues that appear continually as disappointing trends and trademarks of the academic enterprise. I may have more to say on all that sometime soon, but I’m much more interested in having conversations with anyone facing a similar “crisis of faith” - we have a *lot* to talk about!
Reflecting on my time as both faculty member and my brief (but strenuous!) stint as director of the AU music program, I again think of my favorite quote from Leoš Janáček, and hope that my enterprise embodied such:
“Do not toil for recognition, but always do all you can, so that the field allotted to you may prosper”.
Last thought on this: my time away from academia is *NOT* time away from teaching, and I’m looking forward to continuing to cultivate my own private studio of students interested in learning more about composition, arranging, and theory/analysis. If you know of anyone interested in such study, or are interested yourself, don’t hesitate to reach out!
Focusing full-time on composing! Part of the motivation for extending my leave from institutional teaching was to have more time and bandwidth for composing. After a very fruitful 2021-22 season, which included a sold-out run of “already there” at the Kennedy Center, and the premiere of the complete Detachment cycle (more on that below), I’m so excited to forge ahead with composing as my primary enterprise.
I’ve got some really exciting projects in the works and look forward to sharing them. Over the years, I’ve had lots of “maybe someday” conversations with friends about potential collaborations… don’t be surprised if I re-materialize to cash in those chips! If you are interested in working together, I am eager to hear from you! This includes collaborating on new projects, offering workshops and master classes, or performances of any of the works I have on my site - let's be in touch!
Detachment premiere in May was a success - recording coming soon! Speaking of collaborations, there’s been none more thrilling than the recent premiere of Detachment [Books I• II • III] by my friends in the Pique Collective.
On a warm Friday evening at St. David’s Church in north Baltimore, they did me the honor of bringing forth this massive 80+-minute song cycle, puzzle-pieced together from 3 different "books".
If you weren’t able to attend the premiere or catch the livestream, fear not! The Piques and I spent the following Saturday/Sunday in recording sessions. A recording of the complete work will be released soon, and I’m sure I’ll have some more things to say about the conception and process of the work presented here soon. I’m endlessly grateful to Lisa, Jeremy, Stephanie, Peter, and Nono for their brilliant, intrepid performances which gave this weird, long piece such magnificent life; likewise grateful to my good friend Paul Coleman for serving simultaneous roles of record producer/engineer/confidant-to-neurotic-composer over the premiere weekend. The recording sounds incredible and I look forward to the upcoming release!
At present: working on (finally!) recording an album of songs! And speaking of recording… Those who know me well are familiar with the long-mythologized album of songwriter-type songs I’ve been attempting to complete over the past… oh, decade-and-a-half or so.
It’s typically been a therapeutic summer activity away from grading and prepping, and over the years I’ve built up a catalog of songs written for myself to perform. In the past, summer has always ended far too early and the project shelved as another August of prepping took precedent.
Well, no time like the present to throw myself fully into seeing it complete - so that’s the front burner project at the moment. I anticipate a release of 7-8 songs, perhaps more, by early fall. I may tease a song or two prior to the whole album being available, so keep eyes and ears out for it.
Oh, and I live here now!
Speaks for itself. So stoked to be back near the area where I grew up, but getting to live full-time in Manhattan, take part in all the cultural goings-on, and be close to so many family and good friends, is such a joy. See you around!
The top of my shaggy head in foreground; I’m wearing sunglasses. The background is a view looking East down 34th street, towards the Empire State Building. An arrow points to a marquee that says “Manhattan”.