As I have contemplated the immense blessing of last year’s highlight of the world premiere of my Saint Matthew Passion, conducted by Grant Gershon, and performed in Torino, Italy by Orchestra e Coro del Teatro Regio di Torino, this year has been a continuation of the expansion of my art in new ways. I look forward to the world premiere of Jubal, written for an orchestra of flutes and flute soloist. I wrote Jubal to celebrate Pierre-Yves Artaud’s seventieth birthday. Pierre-Yves will be the soloist, and Mark Hajjar will be conducting at the Convention Internationale de Flûte Paris in October. Jubal is the first time in decades that I have revisited writing for multiple flutes. Memories of my ECM recording, Axum, and the collaborations with Flute Force Four came to mind. I also thought a great deal about all of the French Flute Repertoire that I worked on and performed through the years. I also reminisced about the many times that I listened, entranced by the flute choirs of Papua New Guinea. All of these thoughts permeated Jubal, as did the Bible scripture telling of the first harpist and flutist. Writing for Pierre-Yves Artaud was a great joy because he created so much of what flutists play today. After some years, we recently had the opportunity to be faculty together in 2014 at the Croatia Flute Academy in Karlovac, Croatia.
Much planning, workshops, and composition took place for Carrie Mae Weems’ Grace Notes: Reflections For Now, a multimedia work of immense importance, which examines social justice and the power and many nuances of grace. How joyful it is to have the opportunity to work with Carrie Mae Weems again. I firmly believe that she is among the very most influential artists of our time. She has a unique level of insight and concentration; that goes so much further than other artists in the process of creation. For the world premiere, which occurred at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina in June 2016, I served as music director and co-composer with the brilliant Craig Harris. I composed two new works for chamber orchestra and an arrangement of “Amazing Grace” for mezzo-soprano, Alicia Hall Moran, and string orchestra. Conductor John Kennedy did a fantastic job conducting the works. Grace Notes had a powerhouse group of collaborators, Geri Allen, along with poet Aja Monet, writer Carl Hancock Rux, and singers Eisa Davis, Alicia Hall Moran, and Imani Uzuri. It was an amazing experience to work with such brilliant artists/scholars. I was also very touched on working with pianist Geri Allen, after a nearly two-decade hiatus. Her touch on her instrument seems like a series of perfectly constructed haiku, telling so much with such elegance. Grace Notes moved to Yale University Theater for its second performance, this September. Next year the project will be performed at Kennedy Center, in Washington, D.C.
Also, I have just completed Glimpses of the Garden of Eden, for Horn soloist and chamber orchestra. Glimpses allowed me the opportunity to work on some new concepts that did not fit within the context of the Saint Matthew Passion. This composition is my first featuring the French horn. In recent months, I have also revised a (2015) solo trumpet work, The Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness. Next year begins with the first recordings of my recent solo piano music, performed by the immensely gifted Yegor Shevtsov, for a new chamber music CD project. There will be a series of recordings throughout the next year that will document recent works.
Thank you for visiting the site and much peace,
Distinguished Professor of Ethnomusicology
The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music