I can say without a doubt that the Sō Percussion Summer Institute was one of the best musical experiences I have ever had. You never know what you are walking into with festivals, conferences, etc. but this ended up exceeding my expectations. The group of around 30 composers and percussionists gathered together from July 10-24 featured people from all areas of the United States and around the world, all from slightly different stages of their careers and all with different musical backgrounds. The one thing that we all shared was a collaborative spirit and a willingness to try pretty much anything. This led to some amazing creative explorations and served as a great reminder to everyone of what music can be when you take the individual ego out of the equation.
I enjoyed this experience for the ways that it pushed me out of my comfort zone a little bit. With both pieces that I wrote for SōSI, I dove into the more dramatic side of music more than I ever had in the past. I was forced to think about the ways that we can create drama outside of just the musicals sounds being formed. Visual elements can be so powerful when combined with well-crafted sounds, and more than anything I think that is what I took from my musical collaborations. I hope to build on both of the pieces I wrote, Indifference and System Break II, and I know that these will impact the way I compose everything in the future.
Outside of the music made during the 2-week intensive, I enjoyed the experience simply because I got to explore a new part of the world. I had never been to New York City, and I had the opportunity to spend a day there before the festival started. I also got to explore the campus of Princeton University and the town of Princeton, NJ. My ideas of what New Jersey is like were completely shattered, and the trip convinced me more than ever that I would love to live on the East coast, if even only for a few years at some point during my life. The people, the opportunities, and the bustle were all incredible, and I hope this experience is just the start of many collaborations and friendships to come!