A few years ago, I wrote a seventeen-minute-long orchestra piece named 1348 after the worst year of the bubonic plague that wiped out nearly one-third of Europe’s population and nearly one-half of England’s. In many ways, I could see parallels between that time and ours.
Unsurprisingly, this rather dark piece has had a difficult time finding a performance. But Dr. Patrick Miles and Dr. Leslie DeBauche at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point stepped up to remedy this. This spring, Dr. DeBauche’s film class made a zombie movie to go along with the seven movements of 1348. A zombie movie! I was thrilled. The final performance, which took place on April 23, 2014, was a screening of the film with the university orchestra, conducted by Maestro Miles, playing 1348 as a live soundtrack.
At the taping of Carl Kassell’s final Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me episode a couple of days ago, I ran into my old friend Amy Dickinson, a writer and frequent panelist on the show. And seeing Amy reminded me of the radio piece that sparked our friendship: her terrific July 2002 All Things Considered report on a nostalgic summer symphony of mine called The Blue Chevrolet.
I recently started scoring a difficult, meaningful, and beautiful film called Leprosy: A Love Story. Leprosy is a biblical disease, but it still destroys millions of lives. Now, the drug manufacturer Novartis is giving the cure away for free, to eradicate this scourge. Producers David Hanrahan and Joe Fab have been documenting this effort; I’m honored to help.
A brand-new string ensemble has chosen my piece “String Transparencies” for their next concert.Takoma Ensemble, led by Victoria Gau, associate conductor of the National Philharmonic at Strathmore, started their season with a piece by Lou Harrison! That tells you all you need to know about Vicki and the musical landscape she tends to traipse.