2015: First Half(-ish) in Review

A few weeks back I realized that we’d reached the halfway point of a very eventful 2015 and I was marveling at both what’s already taken place and what’s still to come.

The biggest event of the year so far was the February release of Moonstrung Air, a CD of choral and vocal works on Navona Records. Putting it all together took an immense amount of work from many, many people, and I have been gratified that it has been received so positively by so many people:

  • “Brown’s striking and original vocal writing … effectively blends rhythmic, harmonic and stylistic techniques of early and contemporary music in ways that use the building blocks of the past to point the way into the future” [WRTI, Philadelphia]
  • “[Brown’s] command of transcendent sound is constant” [Q2 from WNYC]
  • “The performances are exemplary, the sound excellent and the compositions show us that Gregory W. Brown takes to vocal writing as a natural. The music has eloquence, verve and old-in-new panache. I find the music uniformly delightful.” [Gapplegate Classical-Modern Review]

In April I won a commission competition to work with the Boston Choral Ensemble. I’m very excited to be working on a Shakespeare text to help celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death. The piece will be premiered in Boston in early 2016.

In April had the opportunity to create live electronic sound for a performance with a Five-College Dance ensemble up at the remote and scenic MacCleish Nature Center in West Whately, MA. I have collaborated with master choreographer Chris Aiken in the past and hope to work with him again in the future. Upcoming dance activities include a new work by Paul Matteson which will use one of my electromagnetically prepared piano pieces on the Sept. 9 DANCENOWNYC festival show at Joe’s Pub in the Village. Paul and I are also planning a large-scale duet for the two of us for Spring 2016.

I was pleasantly surprised to wake up on May 24 to find that my Three Folk-Hymn arrangements and a short German part-song — Abschied vom leser — were included on New York Polyphony‘s concert at The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. The concert was broadcast on Netherlands public radio station, NPO; an archive of the show is available on their site.

In September I will be meeting up with New York Polyphony in Brattleboro, VT, to present a lecture-recital of Missa Charles Darwin as part of Friends of Music at Guilford‘s 50th Anniversary season.

Two pieces of mine were recorded for release on upcoming discs: piano piece Sweet & Twenty was recorded by Boston pianist Thomas Stumpf for release on Albany Records; and song-cycle We’ll to the Woods No More with Geoffrey Silver, countertenor and Brent Funderburk, piano. The set was written for Geoffrey and will be included on a CD due out on the ACIS label in 2016.

One particular event that I am looking forward to is a performance of Caliban in After-life with Mary Hubbell at Smith College on March 28. The work was premiered last fall at Phillips Exeter Academy and I can’t wait to share it with my friends and colleagues here in the Pioneer Valley. The text for Caliban in After-life is by poet Todd Hearon. I am starting a conversation with Todd about a major work to be premiered in spring 2017. This new project is still in its infancy, but everything is coming together well and it promises to be extremely rewarding; I will be sharing a lot more about it once the details become clearer.

Thank you for taking a minute to celebrate all the things that I am proud of and excited about. I invite you to follow me on Twitter and Facebook for more regular updates.

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