For the next three years, I will be composer in residence with the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association. Although I live in New York City, I have lived all over the U.S. and even in Vermont for a few years a while back. It is wonderful to experience the musical side of Vermont once again, this time through the VYOA. I am having an incredible time.
My first week involves taking part in the Reveille! Music Festival. There are over a hundred and fifty musicians, and I am spending the week hanging out, getting to know everyone, listening to rehearsals, and teaching two classes: one entitled “Meet The Moderns”, where I play pieces I love written by mostly living composers, and another entitled “Advanced Tonal Theory.”
On the first day of the Meet The Moderns class, I asked everyone what the term “modern music” means. When someone said Schoenberg, I was a little shocked. To help dispel the notion that twelve-tone composers define the word “modern” (keep in mind that Schoenberg died in 1951), I have been playing music by composers such as Luciano Berio, Morten Lauruden and Steve Reich, and I have a few other interesting, living composers planned for the rest of the week. I am putting together an iTunes playlist that contains most of the pieces I am presenting, in case anyone wants to download something they like.
Yesterday I played some of my music so everyone could hear what I compose. I thought this was a good idea, since VYOA is programming one of my orchestral pieces each year for the first two years, and I am being commissioned for a new piece for orchestra and choir for the 2011-12 season.
Today, some of the students brought in pieces they like, and it was an eye-opening experience. My only requirement was that they explain to everyone in the class why they like what they play. We heard everything from Joseph Schwantner‘s Velocities for solo marimba to Summa by Arvo Pärt, as well as music by Eluveitie and Bring Me The Horizon. It was incredibly eclectic. We will listen to more student chosen pieces tomorrow, and I will throw one or two more pieces into the mix as well.
That’s it for now. I will write about Reveille! once more at the end of the festival. Stay tuned…
Rob Paterson, VYOA Music Alive Composer-in-Residence
Robert Paterson is the Music Alive Composer-in-Residence with the VYOA. Music Alive is a national residency program of the American Symphony Orchestra League and Meet The Composer.