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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Steve Reich and Phillip Glass...

I got to see two legends in concert this week at BAM.  Steve Reich and Phillip Glass were playing together for the first time in 40 years so that was pretty big.  And the tickets fell into my lap.  Twice.  The first was a friend who reviews these concerts but it was on a night that I couldn't have attended because I got asked to come in on the night shift to cover the Democratic primary election. The next time, a day later, it was my dad's cousin who had an extra ticket.  This time I could make it but just barely.  So I made some shifts in my schedule to ensure I'd be able to both see the concert and have dinner with my cousin before the show.

We checked out this vegan restaurant on Atlantic Ave. called M.O.B. Please check it out even if you're not vegan.  It's spectacular and well worth it.  Two words: Vegan Cheesecake.  It's really good.

Afterward we headed over to BAM, grabbed a quick glass of wine and then took our awesome 8th row seats and waited for the show to start.  The first half was to be all Steve Reich and Musicians playing Steve Reich pieces (Four Organs and Drumming) and then Phillip Glass and his Ensemble took over for the last half, playing a slew of Glass tunes encompassing some of his film music and other pieces. I am admittedly not as familiar with Phillip Glass' music but I enjoyed it nonetheless.   This was apparently much anticipated as well.  The ensemble got a standing ovation both at the end and at the beginning when they first took the stage.

The first piece, Four Organs was fun to watch partially on account of Nico Muhly head banging and otherwise hamming up his performance, but also because you started to notice them all counting to themselves and really intensely focusing on the piece.  The piece starts with the percussionist in the center playing a steady pulse with the maracas for a few measure before all four keyboardists start hammering out chords on the organ.  Eventually though, as notes gets added here and there, and individual notes in the chords are held out longer by each different performer, the individual players start to deviate from each other and go out of sync with each other.  I'd seen it performed at least once before, once on that very same stage, but it was fun to see it from so close.  And it's just this wall of sound from the organs that blasts your face off.

On Drumming, something about listening to the overtones of the glockenspiels propagating in the space and the reflections of the bongos and marimbas off the back wall of the theater hitting your ear a half second late and messing with the perceived rhythm, was wholly mesmerizing.  The experience cannot be transmitted through a blog entry so I won't try.   Watching the musicians switch places and take over for each other really shows how grueling a piece it must be to play.  It's an hour long.  They cross the stage at one point, switching form pitched bongos to a row of marimbas, then eventually to the glockenspiels.  Near the end of the piece two female vocalists join the cacophony.

During the intermission, we snuck across the street to a bar called Berlyn, my cousin's little hack to avoid the line at the concession stand.  It worked out great because we had a drink in our hand within minutes and had plenty of time to get back to our seats before the lights went down.  Even had a sec to chat with the sound guy, whom my cousin knows before heading back in.

The last half of the show was all Phillip Glass whose ensemble consisted of percussion, saxophones, keyboards and a vocalist.  They played Music in Similar Motion to start, which I'd heard of, but never really heard.  It starts with just a ceaseless flowing line on organ which is joined by the saxophones part way through and builds to cacophonous splendor by the end.  Take a listen here.  The rest of the pieces were from his film scores and other works and were for the most part enjoyable though I was really starting to fade at this point...and I had to be up at 430am the next day for September 11th memorial coverage!

But it was well worth the fatigue to see these two greats on stage in such a historical concert.  I only wish I could have gone every night of the three they played.  I had to miss Music for 18 Musicians which is one of Steve Reich's seminal works.

I can't say I was all that tired though.  I got a good 4 1/2 hours of sleep and went straight through to my voice coaching session after work.  Which was fun as usual but I'm really starting to feel her challenging me...which means I'm definitely getting something out of it.  More on that in the next entry.  Gotta run for now!




Saturday, September 6, 2014

A hiatus is not the end...

A hiatus is not the end.  A hiatus is not me just throwing in the towel for a while and maybe I'll get back to it.  A hiatus does not even mean it's a matter of time before I give it all up and find myself a respectable job and just keep my guitars around to remind myself I once aspired to be a professional musician.  Yes, occasionally, I have to remind myself of this.  When things seem like they're getting away from me. When I feel like all of my other responsibilities are taking over.  When I wonder when the next job will come my way.  When I wonder, if I could just be managing my time better, whether I could find the time to release an album, or submit some more tracks to the licensing agency...or even secure myself a decent job scoring an indie feature.

I'd love to be one of those composers who teaches and has time to compose things, release albums, play shows and book paying gigs back to back.  Who licenses his music for commercials and videos, who generally gets paid on a consistent basis and doesn't have to work a day job that sucks his time and his soul away.  Yes, those kinds of composers exist.  Maybe I don't know any of them except in passing, the stray informational interviews I've done over the years, meeting someone at a party or connecting through a friend.  Most of us, though, do tons of other things in addition, and just because my "other thing" is somewhat unrelated to music, it doesn't mean that if I have to focus on the other thing for a while, that the music is going to slip away from me.

I really do worry that it will though and that's why I have to remind myself.  Remind myself that I didn't just come up here to succumb to doing the sensible thing for the sake of comfort and stability.  Remind myself that the day job is important but that the aspirations are important too.

I needed to write tonight, guys.  It's been a while since I've submitted anything and watching the frequency of these blogs become less and less has troubled me a little.  I want to have spectacular news to talk about all the time but then, my tendency is toward cautious optimism these days.  When I do have things to report about the trials and conquests of being an aspiring film composer/voice over artist in New York City, I find that I want more to not jinx them than I do to share them necessarily.  

But more than anything I want to share these thoughts I'm having tonight.  That this hiatus feels particularly harrowing because I'm finding myself really needing to do something musical while I'm kind of also having to job hunt a little. My extra freelance work that I'd been depending on has dried up so that I'm subsisting on just the one job now.

I need that outlet though, the music.  I've started to practice piano again for my own personal enrichment, even written a few things and put them on SoundCloud and may have a chance to perform at some yoga classes soon. I am finding more time to submit voice over auditions and my new coach has shown that she has enough faith in me to submit me for voice over auditions that she's privy to during our lessons.  But booking the job is the hardest part there.  The new coach and I are working quite well together though and I'm feeling a lot more confident.  I should probably lean on that for a while and just accept that the music gigs will come.  And the harder I work at the voice over right now while I have this good coach in front of me, the more that's bound to pay off (literally).

I'd really much rather that I had the time to go and seek composing gigs out instead of waiting for one to come around.  But even that has to wait.  I've told myself that this is just temporary and that I will get back to it once day job land stabilizes a bit.  I mean, I have a financial plan now.  I'm a big boy and I pay my bills on time.  In another life I would have loved to have lived a Bohemian lifestyle in the East Village, scraping together rent money month by month, and doing nothing but playing music, but that's not as easy as it sounds from my current standpoint.

I can't imagine giving up the music altogether just for that level of comfort that everybody craves sometimes.  I meet people up here all the time that gave up acting or whatever monumental endeavor they came here for and they tell me they're happy not being part of the rat race anymore.  Whenever someone has to tell me they're happy though...I just wonder if they really are, or even if they really wanted it all that bad to begin with.  But I try not to judge.  Everyone has their path, their limits and maybe they are happier.  But you have to participate in a rat race just about everywhere you go, any industry, any job.  And if you just slide into a comfortable position at a job you have to pretend to like, and try to coast through the rest of your years until retirement, than what are you even doing?  I don't want that to be me.  I've told myself that even if I never make it to where the bulk of my income is from music gigs, I'm always going to be doing what I love.  I'll make sure of that.