Awesome Premiere with the OUTSTANDING Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra!
It was an absolutely incredible experience having my work performed by the 2018 Grammy nominated Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra last week! Upon moving to Cincinnati 4 years ago to pursue a masters degree in composition at the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), University of Cincinnati, I was all too excited to see this dynamic ensemble perform live! Since then, I've been to numerous concerts, admiring the skill, musicality, and signature sound, anxiously awaiting the day where I would be blessed with the fortune of working with them!
I was contacted in early September 2017 by Becky Spiewak, CSO Education Manager in regards to a commission for the CSO's annual Melody Contest, where students submit melodies for an opportunity for their melody to be incorporated into a brand new work that is premiered at a Young People's concert. With great elation, I quickly jumped on this opportunity!
I then had been tasked with the duty of selecting a melody contest winner from a pool of outstanding young people (of whom I wish I could have chosen all). I chose John Lawrie, a very talented sophomore just across the bridge at Covington Catholic High School in Covington, KY. His melody was sophisticated, well-structured, and told a beautiful story through its phrasing. It was a joy to soon find out that John, like myself at 16 years old, had dreams of studying composition at a conservatory as well as performing as a pianist. It was such a joy to visit the high school and meet John, his teacher, and his classmates who looked on with eyes of intrigue as we discussed the process of making a melody into a full orchestral work. I took the opportunity to show the class, through the use of technology, how challenging and fun creating something like this could be.
When we got to the dress rehearsal of the concert, I trembled with excitement while sitting in the green room of Music Hall before being escorted the absolutely stunning Springer Auditorium to hear my piece rehearsed by the Cincinnati Symphony. I also couldn't help but be extremely excited for John, as I was sure this would be an experience that he would never forget. With just two readthrough's, the piece came together beautifully! Never before had I experienced a piece of mine come together so fast! The strings were graceful, the brass was kicking, woodwinds were ravishing, and the percussion was ringing! I left Music Hall never wanting to know what it feels like to NOT be a composer!
The day of the concert was exciting! After giving a few news interviews, it had finally set in: I am a professional composer premiering a work of mine with one of the country's most dynamic orchestras! I can only pray that this is the beginning. The concert was phenomenal. It was such a pleasure to go out on stage along with John and talk about the process of creating the work. And then, the work began! They played brilliantly!
It was also such a joy to be on the same concert with my good friend Alan Lawson, a very talented violinist and rapper. He gave an amazing original rap verse on John Legend's "Glory" from Selma. This was truly a dream come true for the both of us and hopefully the beginning of long illustrious careers of creativity and collaboration.
Being a part of something like this has been a tremendous gift for me as I absolutely love working with young people! I know what music did for me, so it's only fitting that I share it with those who have the potential to blossom into the world's next budding artists! Every new artist sews the seeds that generate the roots to hold us all together as a people. Without music, what a dull place this world would be. Programs like the Young People's Concerts and the CSO's music education efforts in general teach students to unlock their musical/artistic creativity, which is lacking in many of our educational programs in the US. It's important that we continue to encourage students to explore this form of self-expression as it not only allows them to express themselves in a positive way, but also enables them to blossom into very well-rounded human beings. As long as I have breath in my body, I'll always be there to encourage and expose the sheer gift that music is. It is truly a force that can change lives.
This was an experience that I will never forget. It gives me the confidence to continue to share my work with the world in hopes that I might change it in some small way...
...that's my two cents...