Thursday, April 24, 2008


I wrote earlier about how 900 voices were going to sing my choral music in a concert last week. Well, they did. And I was there. It was an astounding event. The choir was too big for the stage, so they sat in the audience seats at Disney Hall and the actual audience was relegated to those nose-bleed seats above them and the section behind the stage where you usually get a nice view of the conductor's face but the entire orchestra is facing the other direction. That's where I sat. Front and center. Facing the choir. It was glorious. Imagine being at a ball game where everyone is singing the Star Spangled Banner, but they're beautifully musical, refined, harmonized, and nuanced. Hee Hee Hee. Or if you can't imagine it, take a look at the LA Times photos here. (In photos 2 and 3 of 6, I'm pretty sure that's my music they're holding.)

Here's some video footage of the event. If you listen to the last five or six seconds of sound on the clip, while Jessica Hernandez is talking, you'll hear the words "the promise of light" ending on an open fifth. Maybe it's not the most fabulous music in the whole piece, but there ya go. That's mine.

I've learned that in the classical world, credit often only goes to the composer and not the lyricist, but I was still surprised to discover that Len Schiff's name wasn't in the program. The conductor did mention the "gorgeous poetry" from the stage, but I offer my public apologies to Len for something that was completely out of my control. You should all know how gifted a wordsmith he is, and you should all buy copies of the music so he can cry all the way to the bank.

Two reviews.

High School Students sing at Disney Hall
by Francisco Vara-Orta, The Homeroom (blog), The Los Angeles Times
Wonder what the future of this country sounds like? Harmonious. At least if you judge by the 1,000 voices of high school students gathered in Disney Hall downtown today for a choral festival. Row after row of black-tie tuxedos and vibrant dresses and gowns filled the seats in the modernist hall. The teenagers have practiced for months to master songs centuries old from countries throughout the world. Vivaldi, Astor Piazaolla, Georgia Stitt, and Gabriel Fauré were the musical favorites of the crowd, sung without instruments or occasionally a piano.

Hundreds join in song at High School Choir Festival
by Francisco Vara-Orta, The Los Angeles Times
Friday's festival, which was free to the public, marked the end of a yearlong process of applications, auditions and practices for those hoping to make the cut. The songs of Antonio Vivaldi, Argentina's Astor Piazzolla, L.A.-based composer Georgia Stitt and France's Gabriel Fauré took months to master. Most of the set centered on religious-themed works about faith, Scripture, devotion and gratitude -- with some pieces dating back centuries.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Southland In the Springtime

I got a fan email yesterday from a girl who currently lives in the small town in West Tennessee where I grew up. According to her myspace profile, she hates the town (as did I), loves Broadway (as did I), and can't wait until she graduates from high school and has a chance to try to make it in New York (as did I). She asked me if I remembered a girl named Lee who was in school with me, and I wrote her back that yes, I remembered Lee. Turns out Lee is her MOTHER, and the whole thing blew my mind because I suppose that means if I had played my cards differently, this girl who was writing me a fan letter and reminding me so much of myself at that age could actually have been my daughter.

A few weeks earlier I got a Facebook message from a guy I knew in high school who was a couple years older than I was. He had lived in my neighborhood and my sister and I used to ride our bikes around the big circular driveway that led to his family's house. Back in my high school days I thought he was too popular to know who I was, and I thought he was probably trouble anyway. So we were never really friends. But then one summer after I graduated, I was home, and he was home, and the older versions of ourselves seemed to have more in common than the younger versions of ourselves did. We hung out that summer and then went our separate ways again. Hearing from him this month has been super interesting, and thrilling in a deeply emotional way, as if the 14-year old girl in me was finally being acknowledged.

I don't spend a lot of time talking about the South, or claiming my southern heritage, or waxing nostalgic about the place where I grew up. While I was there, I really hated it. I spent a lot of time in my room -- and this was long before we all had computers and chatrooms and text messages to keep us from ever really being alone. I read books. I listened to music. I practiced the piano. I wrote in my journal. I made grandiose plans for what I was going to do when I finally got to New York. Or Europe. Or college. Or anywhere where the people "got" me and didn't make me feel like an outsider for wanting the things that were as big as the things I wanted.

I did stay in the south for college, but my first job post-graduation was on the east coast and I didn't look back for about fifteen years. But lately, I don't know, I guess I've been kind of missing it. About two weeks ago I made a trip to New Orleans and visited some family down there, and I was struck with how familiar it all was -- the accent, the food, the pace, the manners, the religion, the family, the scent of spring flowers in bloom -- even though it hasn't been my world for most of my adult life. I don't really think I'm a Southerner anymore. But I'll admit that I'm starting to understand its appeal. When I think about the things that I want for my own daughter, having a big circular driveway in the neighborhood and being able to spend the afternoon riding your bike around it doesn't sound half bad.

PS Happy Birthday, Emily!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

News from MTV

You may have known that I worked in reality TV, but did you know I was an expert in the field?

The task ahead this week is writing out accompaniment for songs I've composed and even performed but never bother to write down on paper. Eerrrgghhh, it's a tedious job, filled with tiny decision after tiny decision. But with so many performances coming up and so many people learning music without me in the room to tell them how it all goes, it seemed like time to get all those ducks in a row.

Coming up in May, we're doing the reading of The Water that I wrote about earlier, and then two weeks later (on May 26th, to be exact) I've got a concert at Birdland in New York. It hasn't officially been announced, but in addition to performing the Alphabet City Cycle live (with Kate Baldwin and Victoria Paterson, just like on these recordings), I'm premiering yet another a new song cycle and I'll be trotting out some of the old familiar songs that I do at every concert. I started putting the evening together and realized that the list of songs I was drawing up looked exactly like the list of songs I had performed at my Birdland concert in 2004, so I figured it was time to write some new tunes. Which I did. Look for performances from Keith Byron Kirk, Lauren Kennedy, Elizabeth Salem, Jennifer Simard, Tony Holds and... maybe even a few others. We shall see. It's still over a month away. But if you wanted to pick up tickets, you would do it here.

And finally, just cuz I'm a mom.... don't you wish you always felt this happy?

Saturday, April 05, 2008

LA Choir Festival featuring THE PROMISE OF LIGHT

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you're aware of the fact that I also write choral music. Perhaps you recall the blog entry from about a year ago where I talked about my newly published piece, "The Promise Of Light," which I wrote with lyricist Len Schiff.

Well, the music director of the LA Master Chorale, Grant Gershon, chose that very piece as part of the repertoire for the 19th Annual High School Choir Festival, and the NINE HUNDRED VOICE CHOIR will be performing the piece at Disney Hall in two weeks. Here's the info for the Friday, April 18th concert, and here's what's on the program.

The Promise of Light, Georgia Stitt
Cantique de Jean Racine, Gabriel Fauré
Liber Tango, Astor Piazolla, arr. Oscar Escalda
Gloria: Quoniam tu solus Sanctus, Antonio Vivaldi
Gloria: Cum Sancto Spiritu, Antonio Vivaldi
Witness, Jack Halloran

I mean, COME ON.

If you're in any way involved in the event, write and let me know how it's going. I think this is very exciting.