Archive for December, 2015

With Baton in Hand

Posted: December 22, 2015 in Press, Studio Buzz

Since graduating from the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance in May 2015, I’ve had more time to study scores. In so doing, I’ve begun conducting through several scores, marking them with my colored pencils, and really getting deeper into the subtleties that various recordings display; many times quite different than what’s written on paper.

To name a few of the scores:

  1. Miklos Rozsa – Three Hungarian Sketches, op. 14
  2. Alberto Ginastera – Pampeana No. 3 (Symphonic Pastorale in Three Movements)
  3. Dmitri Shostakovich – Symphony No. 10, op. 93
  4. Ye Xiaogang – Song of the Earth
  5. John Mackey – Redline Tango

The best available recording of Rozsa’s op. 14, has 4 bars missing from the first movement; that’s a professional recording. I wasn’t expecting that. The most difficult of these for me is Shostakovich’s tenth!! That second movement is a beast!!!! His tenth symphony, in particular, poses several problems (tempo, dynamics, and time signature changes). I thought John Mackey’s work would pose a lot of problems with the many time signature changes, but the pulse is steady; though if you looked at the score alone,  it appears more difficult than it really is. It’s those works that have an innocent look to them that are the most difficult.

I totally enjoy having the time to do this, as there is no doubt I will conduct in public in the near future. I was asked why am I looking at large works. My reply contained the following: I compose large works, and I’ve been composing large works and studying scores since 2000. It’s nothing new to me anymore, and this is where I’ve progressed to. If I were fresh/green to this process, and completely ignorant, I would definitely be consumed with studying choral works, and scores for chamber ensembles.

From 1994-2000, I spent those years transitioning from hip-hop, r&b, rock, jazz, and house music to symphonic writing. During that time, I began studying instrumentation and orchestration on my own. Also during that period, I was doing a lot of transcribing (John Coltrane, Gil Evans, old 1970’s soul classics that had lavish orchestral accompaniment), and I was studying Rimsky-Korsakov’s Principles of Orchestration. The first orchestral work that I studied was Maurice Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloe. I then proceeded to studying the works of Alban Berg, Manuel de Falla, and Aaron Copland.

I say all of this to show my gradual progression. You’ve got to walk a while to get to where you’re going. So, yeah, I’m composing, producing, teaching, and getting into the groove to add conducting to the list of skills. Plus, since I enjoy composing large orchestral works, someone’s got to conduct them!! That is, if no one chooses to. It’s better to be prepared than to not be. To add to this, working in film, television, and interactive media, conducting also has its rewards. I’d rather be prepared, and I would feel much better having devoted the time to take on such a task.




I thought I was done composing! I was wrong. After completing Symphony No. 4 (Kasufhetep I), I composed a 7-minute work about a doll collection over a span of three days. It’s a haunting, awe-inspiring work if you ask me. It’s written for percussion, harp, celesta, children’s chorus, and strings.

Below are the current books I’m reading.


Music that I’ve been listening to recently are Guan Xia’s “Requiem for the Earth” and Dmitri Shostakovich “Symphony No. 10“. It’s a no brainer that since I’m reading O’Callaghan’s book that I’m listening to and re-studying Jerry Goldsmith’s film score to the 1968 classic, Planet of the Apes.

Well, that’s about it as I push to add concert performances to my schedule, acquire new composer commissions, film scoring/orchestration and video game scoring opportunities.


Until next time