For the past few months, I have been putting together a project in my head in the hopes that I can get it out of my head and into the world. The time may be at hand.
The project has many branches. In vaguest terms, it is a recital project. This includes, obviously, a performed recital. That’s the part that looks like it’s coming to pass, most likely in January 2007. It’s fairly easy to put on a recital – rehearse some music, find a venue, print up some programs, do some advertising – and can be done on a budget. The great thing about this one is that I won’t be putting it on myself! I will be part of a concert series, which means all of my expenses (travel, lodging, even my pianist) will be covered, the facility will advertise and handle ticket sales, and I’ll even get paid. How cool is that! I have put on several recitals over the years, and the music preparation always seemed to take a back seat to the “other stuff” required to produce a good show. It will be a luxury to be able to just focus on the music.
What music, you ask? That’s another branch of the project. I knew that I wanted the centerpiece of the recital to be a new work, written especially for me. To that end, for several months I have been talking with Judd Greenstein, a fellow 2004 Tanglewood Music Center alum, about a new work for soprano and piano. We wandered through many ideas for texts, topics, and general themes for the recital program, and have finally settled on our jumping off point: songs with spiritual texts, especially from spiritual traditions that are not mainstream. Other pieces under consideration have texts by Irish monks of the 12th Century, a 16th C. female Krishna devotee, poems of Hafiz, and settings of Vedic hymns. Judd is drawn, for this project, to the Zohar, the principal text of Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism. I think it has potential to be a really exciting and unusual recital program.
A side branch of this project is the process of commissioning a new piece of music. I’ve never done it before, and it is exciting to be cursorily involved in the creation process; usually I just present my interpretation of something that’s already been created. But talking about poetry and voice ranges doesn’t pay the composer’s bills! To that end, I’m looking for funds. I have a few ideas; since Judd and I are both Tanglewood alums, I’m hoping to find some connections there. There are all kinds of grants out there for this sort of thing, but grants can be daunting! Judd pointed me to Meet the Composer, an organization dedicated to helping new music come to be. This page has been incredibly informative.
If any of you have commissioned works, please drop me a line and share your experience. If any of you feel like sponsoring this commission, please be in touch! (Just kidding. Well, only sort of.)
The final branch of the project will, ideally, be to record this program and market the CD. That will require a whole different set of funds, but with a recording engineer in the family, it will be manageable. We’ll market it at concerts, maybe even sell receipts for advance copies (once we know for sure that the CD is going to happen); my website will also have links to places to buy, maybe cdbaby.com or even Amazon, if we can swing a UPC symbol.
Writing this all out has made me realize that this whole project, not just writing a grant proposal, is a bit daunting. But I believe in it, and I think people will enjoy it. And, hey, it will keep me out of trouble.