Archive for the ‘Press’ Category

Guanyin of the Southern Sea - Nelson Atkins Museum 2Kerwin Young composes Guanyin of the Southern Sea, a fantasy for guzheng, women’s chorus, and orchestra. Young is no stranger to Chinese instruments, having composed solo works for zheng, as well as suites for pipa, erhu, and guqin. His work has been performed by Music From China, and he’s also been honored by the Chinese Music Society of North America. A student of Chen Yi and Zhou Long while at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, Kerwin made plans for the current work in 2012; though it has taken quite awhile to begin working on it.

Historically, Guanyin is revered as a goddess of mercy, compassion, and kindness, and a guide for those who travel the sea. She also represents purity, harmony, and peace.

When asked what inspired the work, Kerwin responded with the following:

My mom and I, while visiting Savannah, Georgia, sometime during 2005-06, heard this beautiful instrument resonating along the waterfront. I stepped away from my mom and walked toward the sound I was hearing. From a distance, I noticed a canopy, and underneath saw an old man in a white tee-shirt playing a long, table top zither. At the end of the song, I approached the elder musician and asked what the instrument was, and how it was tuned. I learned that it was the guzheng, and that he was from China. I’d never heard anything quite like it before, and since then have been drawn to its warm sound. I collected the notes I received that day, and eventually added to them while studying at UMKC.

While in college, I befriended quite a few zheng players; many who were invited guests of Chen Yi and Zhou Long. I studied with Chen Yi from 2009-2015, and really absorbed quite a lot. I composed three solo works for zheng, and in 2012, had a successful premiere of I Walk Alone at the Nelson-Adkins Museum in Kansas City, Mo. At the time of the premiere, the Nelson-Adkins Museum had on display, a giant, life-sized statue of a Guan-yin (see the photo above). I was awed, and began fantasizing about a prospected work for zheng and orchestra.

Kerwin originally intended for this work to include two full-sized orchestras; one Chinese, and the other western. That idea, although a great one, was significantly chopped down as Kerwin began to flesh out some of the orchestration for his thematic ideas.

He did retain some Chinese instruments within the work, and those are the yangqin, yunluo, diyin daluo (better known as the tam-tam), xiaogu, and huapengu.

Both the brass and percussion sections are heavily stacked. The sopranos and altos, being the core of the women’s chorus, add a wealth of sonic flavor. Kerwin explained how his choice of instrumentation is necessary for telling a variety of stories within the overall work. He says, “On one hand, you’ve got the main subject of the Guan-yin representing her basic descriptives/attributes, and on the other hand, the mythology amongst cultures from Southern India to Japan; which open up new doors for my artistic expression.

2017 has been quite busy for Kerwin, who since January, has composed three major orchestral works: Symphony No. 5, Season of Autocracy, and Bolivar, totaling approximately one hour and ten minutes worth of music. Kerwin expects to complete Guanyin of the Southern Sea by late October 2017.

 

Ka’ness M’dolothongo – Author, Biographer

One of our era’s brightest composers of prolific orchestral works, Kerwin Young again puts the pencil to the paper for his third orchestral work in 2017. On the heels of Symphony No. 5 and Season of Autocracy, there are no signs of Kerwin slowing down anytime soon. His new work, Bolívar, is well underway; with an expected completion in September.

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A short orchestral work inspired by the life of Simón Bolívar, Bolívar, when completed, will serve as a grand prelude or overture to Kerwin’s collected orchestral works. When asked why the sudden outpour of creativity has his attention, Kerwin replied,

“I’ve always composed mass amounts of music concurrently. Always! No one’s been paying attention to my career. While no one is commissioning me to compose new works, it should be noted that none of my orchestral works have yet to be performed. I refuse to allow any of these to deter my passion. Besides, I enjoy telling stories through music, and I’m taking advantage of what time I’ve got, as I await to acquire film scoring opportunities for feature films.”

Kerwin, who composes an average of two to four minutes of music daily is proud of this capability. Though it may seem rather small, I assure you it is quite the opposite. Kerwin admitted that prior to composing in this fashion had shown a lack of self-trust, and had a constant battle between what he wanted and what has been accepted as standard. Once he abandoned from the traditional path, his own way was made clear.

I’ve totally dismissed anyone’s view of how things should be done musically. I’ve got my own way. When I’m composing a new work, I’m free from having to accommodate the personal wishes of a film producer, director, featured performer, or commissioning party.  I can let loose and really dig into what I want to say musically, and I also have the freedom of choosing any instrumentation I want. I don’t really care if these works ever get performed, but I will make certain to compose and orchestrate my works according to my tastes. And, these works will have a life of their own because of it. Screw any adherence to any standard instrumentation. If you’re a composer, and you hear the most odd; yet unique instrumentation for the work you’re writing, you ought to follow along with that notion. To ignore oneself is slavery, because that is a sure sign that you are governed by an outer force. When you don’t trust yourself, that right there is a problem. There can be no true self expression; no freedom of expression with such limitations. You cannot be afraid. Write! Compose! Create!

Big salute to Kerwin as he continues his work, and by the way, he’s got eight orchestral works to follow. Among the slated eight are two opera’s, another symphony, two suites, an orchestral fantasy, and two dramatic shorts.

 

Ka’ness M’dolothongo – Author, Biographer

New Orchestral Work

Posted: June 26, 2017 in Composing Insights, Press

Within a few days of completing Symphony No. 5 (Perseverance), I began a much shorter work for orchestra, Season of Autocracy; which I’ve just completed.  With a duration a little north of nine minutes, it’s now edited, compiled, and ready for marketing. I feel quite confident about this work being programmed by major orchestras during this life on earth.

Next on the plate is a long overdue work for zheng and orchestra, followed by more works for orchestra.  Yes, I enjoy composing for the orchestra; but more importantly, I enjoy telling stories through music. Whether or not any orchestra commits programming my work, I will continue to compose the music I hear; regardless of the instrumentation.

I’ve written several epic orchestral works fit for an over-sized film studio Regardless as to whether I am commissioned to compose these works, it’s all about the artistry and the freedom of expression. I will continue to write whatever I feel like writing. A lot of people scrutinize my passion, by stating these works will never be performed and such. But hey, these works could also be a source of musicological study for future generations. I’m writing a serious book of orchestral literature that will speak to many. Composition is the best meditation; plus it’s great practice as it keeps me learning/studying scores, various textbooks, recordings, conducting techniques, films, etc…

Until next time….

 

K

Desperately Needed Gear

Posted: June 12, 2017 in Press, Studio Buzz

The most agonizing moment is when you’re right in the middle of mocking up a bad-ass orchestral cue, and your computer freezes! That just happened to me! Luckily, I’d already saved the session. After re-booting, it froze twice more.

I’ve long needed a new laptop! Fortunately, the current mock-up is part of my daily mock-up regiment (daily mock-up exercise); whereby I merely do film cues so that I’m prepared for the real thing. Had this been an actual gig, I could handle the glitch. It’s imperative that I freeze the midi tracks (bouncing to audio) once I’ve settled on an idea. This would eliminate a computer lock-up; or at least minimize a re-occurrence.

So, mock-up practice is a great exercise for composers; especially when moments like this occur. Being prepared for the unexpected, and knowing how to handle the situation is a necessity for any assignment.

But, still, the main point here is that I need a new laptop. It’s exceeded its life expectancy. I also plan to go back to Mac! I started with Mac, and then went to PC.

Someone asked in a chat, “why do you practice mock-ups?” The main reasons are:

  1. You’ve worked up a catalog of cues that you can use to promote yourself
  2. You’re prepared for when the real work comes
  3. You’ve grown accustomed to your gear (DAW(s), sound libraries, and fx plugins, and hardware)
  4. You’ve developed a work flow and have built a diverse template that ensures for a successful final product
  5. You can develop a method for transferring midi data to notation, and vice-versa; working between your DAW and notation software.

 

Speaking of notation software, I’ve been using Sibelius since 2002, and I absolutely love it. I’m still using 7, and I haven’t found a need to update beyond that point. As a college professor, I had to learn Finale for lecturing purposes; though I hate using it. Steinberg’s Dorico isn’t quite there yet if you’re writing huge orchestral scores. Although the engine is awesome, it still lags behind. Notion by PreSonus is great, and it would be far greater if it were built into the Studio One software; making it compatible with Digital Performer and Logic Pro. I also find Notion to be what Dorico hopes to be. The score editors in DP and Logic Pro are decent; in fact, these two DAWs are complete!

Depending on the type of project you’re working on, or if you’re asked to conduct a demonstrative lecture, having DP, Logic Pro, and Studio One at your disposal would prove quite beneficial. I plan on incorporating all three to fulfill live demonstrations, lectures, tutorials, and basic client fulfillment. I’ve already got Pro Tools, which I use solely for post production. But, for the purpose of lecturing, and cross-platform collaboration with others, it’s imperative that I use all three. Each one offers a unique attribute that another lacks. For example, Studio One, DP, and Logic Pro can all import video/film, but not all can export MOV, AVI, or MP4 files.

Music Publishing

Posted: May 27, 2017 in Press

In a conversation this morning with an artist/producer I know from Roosevelt, Strong Island, I mentioned “managing a music publishing company is like managing a farm. There are many facets to attend to; more than you think.

 

K!

2Q17 Update

Posted: May 26, 2017 in Composing Insights, Press

Symphony No 5 Cover PageI just wrapped up Symphony No. 5 (Perseverance). It’s approximately 46 minutes, and it about wraps up my lengthy orchestral works for awhile. The next group of orchestral works I’ve got lined up are all single movement works, and a lot shorter than my five symphonies. However, Symphony No. 6 has quite a large percussion section.

I can slow the pace down a bit now, taking my time to write the slated works on my to do list. There are about 9 works I’ve got slated. Until I lock down a major motion score, I will continue to compose works based on either a non-fictional subject/character, folk-lore, current events, or my Kasuf series. Like Bartok or Penderecki, my orchestral works could easily be adapted to any motion picture. Though, they do need to be performed and recorded first; which is another drama in itself. Knowing that most orchestras haven’t evolved to accept the works of living composers, having one’s work programmed, performed, and recorded is quite a task, and requires strong political connections. Seriously!

Today is May 26th, Miles Davis Day, and I’m playing some Miles of course. I’ve got some edits to make to my violin suite. I really need to get the score done so I can market it.

Stay tuned, and hopefully the next blog I write will make mention of a film I will be underscoring.

 

K!

Symphonies and Film Scores

Posted: May 18, 2017 in Press

photo 2I’ve just completed the fourth movement of Symphony No. 5. I’m working on movement two now; then I’ll be left to make final edits, which I do along the way. So far, the work is 40 minutes long. When finished, it’ll be a little under an hour. I’ve got enough extra material for 4 more orchestral works. BUT, I’ve still got my work for zheng, orchestra, baritone and choir to complete. And, there’s also Symphony No. 6. Both works are rather short compared to Symphonies 1-4, and Reclamation.

Over the past year, I’ve finally accepted the fact that I ought to screw the idea of waiting on orchestras to program or perform my works! Media offers the greatest opportunity for musical innovation and opportunities. Although I’ve been scoring films and television since 1994, the opportunities as a media composer continue to outweigh those offered by any orchestra…anywhere.

My daily routine consists of the following not in any specific order:

  • Compose for a few hours (either at the piano or without; with a dedicated project moleskine and a Tombow mechanical pencil.)
  • Score studies & conducting (classical rep)
  • Film studies (film analysis and musical accompaniment)
  • Music production (cue mock-ups and recording projects)
  • Several tea breaks
  • Early morning exercise
  • Check out the work and blogs of my contemporaries
  • Net scouring for new gear and tech

I continue to push forth as a composer of feature films, television, and games. I want to team up with a bad-ass filmmaker who’s creating some awesome stories! Epic status!

K!