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Grad School is Weird, and Here’s Why: A 6-Week Update

Can you believe I’ve made it through over a month of grad school?

Six weeks ago, as I packed the car and drove halfway across the country to grad school, my mom gave me an ominous warning on what lay ahead:

“It’s going to be weird for a few months.”

When I got here, at first, I thought everything was fine.  I figured if I’d managed alright in college, grad school would be no problem.  But as the semester has gone on, I can’t say she was incorrect.

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4 Life Lessons I’ve Learned from My First 7 Days in Chicago

As the flat, corn-lined highway stretched in front of me for as far as I could see, months of anticipation and preparation shifted into reality.  After uprooting myself from my beloved Music City eight months ago, I was now trading my Virginia Appalachians for Chicago skyscrapers.

I’d visited the city for just a few hours in the spring, but now I’d committed to an entire two years of graduate school there.  What if I got back to Chicago and ended up hating it this time? Continue reading “4 Life Lessons I’ve Learned from My First 7 Days in Chicago”

What Happened When I Spent 2 Weeks at a Composers’ Retreat…

Two weeks ago, a wave of apprehension came over me as I packed my bags to head to the Composers’ Retreat of the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival.  I shouldn’t have been nervous, because I’d had a great experience when I participated in the same program three years ago.  But this time, I felt like everything was at stake. Continue reading “What Happened When I Spent 2 Weeks at a Composers’ Retreat…”

Where I’ve Been for the Last Year… And Where I’m Going Next

Seven months ago, the hardest and best chapter of my life so far came to a close: I graduated from Belmont University with a BM in Composition and a BS in Audio Engineering Technology.  Even now, it’s still hard to believe it’s done!

I must confess I felt equal amounts of relief and panic the day I walked across the stage: relief, because four and-a-half years of blood, sweat, and tears were finished; and panic, because I realized I had two degrees but no firm plan for what would follow.

Christmas came a couple of weeks early this year…

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I’m a Composer from Charlottesville…

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“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” -Leonard Bernstein

At Atlantic Music Festival this summer, that quote was our motto, though none of us knew how appropriate it would become to current events.  And while I was going to post about the amazing summer I had at Atlantic, I felt that as someone who grew up in Charlottesville, I needed first to express my solidarity with the persecuted and the families of those who lost their lives to violent monsters who invaded my beloved, diverse hometown last weekend.

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Atlantic Music Festival, Week 1

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The beautiful campus of Atlantic’s host, Colby College

Over the last few weeks, I’ve found myself traveling all over the place to study at a couple of summer music festivals.  I was at the Fresh Inc Festival in Wisconsin for two weeks in June, and it was so good that I haven’t been able to figure out how to sum up the experience in one post.  Hopefully I’ll do that soon, though.  At the moment, I’ve just finished my first week at the Atlantic Music Festival in Maine, and it’s been amazing.

When I say “music festival” to some people, they imagine that I’m talking about loud rock bands and lots of drugs and wild partying, but these classical festivals I attend could hardly be farther from that.  In my world, the music festivals I speak of are the places you go as a young composer to sharpen your skills, make connections, and study music intensely without the burden of homework and day-to-day chores that I have during the school year.

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Just a Life Update…

With my senior year behind me, I can say it’s been a pretty unbelievable couple of semesters, for so many reasons.  So much has happened since I posted in August that I figured it was time for an update…

This year, I had nine performances of several of my pieces.  One of the highlights was having the Belmont Orchestra perform Out of Ashes twice this spring: once at the annual Classical Performers Concert, as the winner of the Composition Competition, and once at the Tennessee Music Education Association Conference.  I’ve learned so much from my peers over the last four years, so it was wonderful to hear them play my work—not to mention that they gave it such incredible performances!

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The Belmont Symphony Orchestra performing my composition, Out of Ashes, in March 2017

 

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Out of Ashes… Again?

Since I last posted on here, so much has happened that I can’t possibly put it one post, so I’ll just keep it short.

To start out, my first serious orchestral piece, “Out of Ashes” had a fantastic premiere by the Nashville Philharmonic Orchestra in May. Huge thanks to all of the musicians for their hard work in making it a success! There are no words to describe that night, so I’m just going to post the recording here for you:

 

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“Out of Ashes” Premieres Next Week!

Since I last wrote, I’ve received some big news: I won the Nashville Philharmonic Orchestra’s Composition Competition with my new work, “Out of Ashes.”  The premiere is one week from today, and to say I’m thrilled and excited and honored doesn’t even begin to express how I feel about this!

The premiere will take place at 7:30 PM on May 3rd, at Brentwood United Methodist Church in Brentwood, TN.  Also, there will be a second performance on May 10th at 7:30 PM at the Gordon Jewish Community Center.  All of you are invited, and admission is free.

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What Comes Down Must Go Up

With the completion of my orchestral piece, “Out of Ashes,” last month and my submission of it to several competitions, I could finally exhale for the first time in weeks.

While you might think I’d be overjoyed at my work and celebrating everything I’d just accomplished, instead, the opposite was true: I found myself fighting post-composition depression.

For weeks, I’d poured my heart and soul into the project.  I’d hardly slept.  I’d barely left my room.  I’d intently studied many orchestral scores and orchestration textbooks to gather ideas and learn new techniques. Continue reading “What Comes Down Must Go Up”