Last week, maestro David Fanning and the National String Symphonia brought my piece, Retablos, to life for the first time at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater. The piece features a fiendishly difficult percussion part that requires the percussionist to leap from the bass drum to the vibraphone, to various temple blocks, and back to ten other instruments. For the soloist, Mark Carson, it was an exercise in choreography and stamina as much as it was in musicality. Mark and I (but mostly Mark) worked off and on for months to make sure that this percussion part was playable. The result was a fluid and, honestly, gorgeous performance. The NSS will perform it again in Baltimore on March 11.
19: The Musical, a carnival ride of a project about the passage of the 19th Amendment, is still taking shape. Last weekend, singers Millie Scarlett, Katie Ganem, and Maria Ciarrochi performed three new songs from the show at The Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monumentin Washington DC in honor of Women’s History Month. Lyricist Jennifer Schwed and writer Doug Bradshaw have been the visionaries behind this project, which we hope to keep building and workshopping over the course of the next year. At our Saturday matinee shows, we were blessed with enthusiastic and curious audiences, including one extremely lively bachelorette party all in purple (the color of the suffragists). Could attending historical feminist musical theater offerings be a new bridal trend? For the sake of this show, I sincerely hope so.
I’m happy to announce that on March 18, the Capitol City Symphony will be premiering a jaunty and nostalgic 12-minute piece of mine called My Own Personal Rocketship. Maestra Victoria Gau will conduct. There’s a second piece of mine on the program: one movement of my symphony, The Blue Chevrolet. It’s a family concert complete with pre-show instrument petting zoo, so if you’ve got kiddos in DC to entertain that day, I hope you’ll zoom by. It’s at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, with shows at 4 and 6 pm.
This sounds like the start of an accordion joke: My accordion seemed to be out of tune. But seriously, it did. So I searched the internet for help and came up with Busso’s Accordion Shop in Alexandria, Virginia. Now, I must admit that my accordion playing is limited. I play it like a piano with my right hand, and have never really mastered all the buttons on the lefthand side—or at least not so far. So I was somewhat nervous going into the bellows of the beast, but it turned out that the shop’s proprietor, Frank Busso, is a non-judgmental champ of a guy. He confirmed that my accordion was, indeed, out of tune and needed fixing. While I was at the shop, I got the chance to play a really good instrument: a top-of-the-line Titano. I also added a destination to my travel bucket list: Castelfidardo, Italy, the international capital of accordion builders. I hope that when I finally get there, they will welcome me as a brother.