Atlantic Music Festival
When I first got on an airplane to fly to the middle of Maine, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It reminded me of my trip to Indiana University for the SCI Conference back in September of 2018, where I drove by myself to a place I had never been before, to meet a bunch of people I had never encountered in my life. Fortunately, just like that conference, attending the Atlantic Music Festival this summer ended up being one of the best decisions I have made in my short musical career. The composers and performers that I met there were fantastic musicians and friendly people, and they gave me an idea of what the "real world" in music is like- something that is hard to grasp growing up and going to college in the middle of Iowa.
At the festival, we attended daily seminars put on by composers from around the country. All of these composers were big names hailing from some of the top universities in America, and all had varied approaches to composing and teaching. In addition to this daily seminar, I got the opportunity to attend lessons with some of these composers, including Amy Beth Kirsten, Pierre Jalbert, Melinda Wagner, and Chen Yi. I also had the privilege of attending concerts by the fantastic performers that were there, from the new music ensemble to the piano students to the full orchestra. Finally, the new music ensemble at the festival premiered my piece, "Dichotomy," which I have described in an earlier post. This was the most challenging piece I have ever written, and speaking bluntly, the weirdest thing I have ever written. The performers there did an incredible job with it, especially for working up pieces for the 40 (yes, 40!) other composers that attended the festival. Perhaps more than anything, though, the most valuable thing I took from the festival were the relationships I formed with the other musicians there. Within the course of just four weeks, my network grew by over 50 people- not just other composers, but performers who are already well into their careers, and faculty at different schools around the country. I have had conversations with many of these performers already, and talked about potential future collaborations, and I am excited to see the musical opportunities I might have in the future as a result of knowing these people.
While I was in Maine, I found out the exciting news that I won the 2019 Iowa Composers Forum Student Composers Contest for "Dichotomy." I am especially excited because they promise a performance of the winning piece each year. Having heard the piece performed live at the festival, I have a much better idea of what I want it to sound like, and now I have a reason to revise it, in hopes of an even better second performance. I started going through and thinning out sections to give some breaks to the listener, and lengthening other sections to create the shape that I want more specifically.
It feels good to be home again in Iowa, but I am extremely thankful for the experiences I had in Maine, and I know it will shape my outlook on the musical world as I move forward.