Posts Tagged ‘Classical music’

Kerwin Young begins 2019 composing the film score to Miss Jackson, a dramatic film short directed by Seneca Robinson. Maestro Kerwin Young is quite pleased by the creative chemistry this composer-filmmaker collaboration offers, and looks forward to a lengthy alliance.

Symphony No. 7 now has the first three movements complete, and Young affirms to have a final draft by mid-March 2019. The running time is already at the 50-minute mark, and Young surmises it will exceed the duration of his Symphony No. 2 (Khemet West), which is sixty-six minutes.

On January third, The American Composers Orchestra awarded Kerwin with a composer residency through its EarShot program with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Congratulations Mr. Young!

2019 is also the 25th anniversary of Public Enemy’s Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age album, which was produced by Chuck D and Kerwin Young.

More to come…..


N. Ati


Movement three was completed this evening, and once again, edits were made while drafting and orchestrating. It’s an in-your-face bolero, bringing the total running time to just under thirty minutes. The third movement is nine minutes, and I’m quite pleased. The music seems to be writing itself.

Concerning movement three, the flute section and harpists may hate me, but challenges make way for great performances. I’ve orchestrated these parts carefully, so that even if they’re not articulated properly, they’ll still create the overall, desired effect. This movement also requires six percussionists, which I’m proud of! I’ve decided two years ago that I will compose music that I want to hear and see performed, regardless of what may be deemed as standard.

Over the next few days, I’ll begin to organize and analyze any unused material for the fourth movement. I do have a few drafts already, but all of these must be organized/outlined.

It would be great to be on a film scoring team either as an orchestrator, copyist, or composer of an epic screenplay, but  my orchestral works are my film scores for now. These are my epics, whether they’re programmed or not. Below are a list of works I intend to compose following the completion of Symphony No. 4.

Upcoming Works (in this order):

  1. Piano Quintet (working title) – This untitled work will be for my good friend Wen Zhang (pianist). I plan to compose a virtuosic work of no less than fifteen minutes. Of course, there are several other pianists that I will deliver the final product to, but I hope that it doesn’t end up as my work for bass/baritone and piano, “Cry of the Queenless King“, which is still unperformed. I hate writing a great piece that everyone loves……….but it never gets performed.
  2. Guanyin of the Southern Sea – I’ve been planning this work since 2012/2013, and it finally looks like I’ll get to it. I’ve got quite a few ideas and sketches for this already. This work will be extremely challenging, and may take up to six months to complete. I could definitely use some sort of grant, gift, or residency to complete this one.
  3. Doll Collection of Mrs. Wynn – Since graduating college in May 2015, I’ve been residing with a host family until I get myself into some steady work. The home owner has an incredible doll collection in a room all to itself. I thought, “hmmm….why not compose something for this!” I don’t have any sketch for this yet, but I plan to write a 3-4 minute work that could fit its way into a concert.
  4. Osagyefo (an opera projected for a 2019 completion) – I’ve begun the planning in 2014, and since March 2015, I’ve been researching my subject.

There are two other works-in-progress that are awaiting sponsors, but if that doesn’t happen, those two works will be placed on the shelf until a later time.

Symphony No. 4 Update

Posted: October 27, 2015 in Press
Tags: ,

Guess what? I’ve managed to complete the first two movements of the my fourth symphony within the past month. I’m on a roll! I’m editing as I go to reduce the amount of post editing I’ve been accustomed to with previous large scale works for orchestra. I’m currently working out the material for the remaining movements.

Initially, I intended Symphony No. 4 to be a one-movement work, but since getting under way, I’ve decided to partition it. I’m expanding my musical language with this symphony. I’m loving it so far, and I find myself being extra careful with what remains -vs- what I omit. I’ve omitted at least fifteen to twenty-minutes of music already. What remains of the combined first two movements is approximately twenty-minutes of music.

Stay tuned for more!


As a composer of orchestral music, which follows many years of composing and producing popular music (hip-hop, soul, rock, country, funk, jazz, house, reggae, etc…), several concert programmers assume that my orchestral and chamber works are mere re-generations of the pop music I once made, or am still creating. This, I believe, is a contributing factor to me not being received or welcomed at the table, alongside today’s recognized and/or commissioned composers.

As I compose my fourth symphony, symphonies 1-3, along with several other large works remain unperformed/unprogrammed. I’ve been encouraged to compose several chamber works, which I have done, and continue to do. Yet, those too have not been performed. Reaching out to performers, ensembles, and conductors is a necessary and easy task, but the boomerang effect most often returns with no response. No matter how many solicitations are made, nothing changes. These various groups haven’t even heard the music, nor have they read through any of my scores; yet there are no responses. I can totally understand if one hears the music and she or he doesn’t like it. That’s NOT the issue here. It’s like I’m being downsized in a sophisticated way. Why is it like this? I’ve considered various scenarios that may be contributing factors. Here are a few.

  1. I have not won any awards for music composition. I began composing concert works beyond the age of 30; thus considered too old to apply to several opportunities restricted by age. Basically, I’ve been deemed too old from the time I began.
  2.  I may be type-cast as a composer of popular music. A background in pop music doesn’t sit well in the classical world; though it shouldn’t hinder anything. But, maybe it does.
  3.  Perhaps my ethnicity is a contributing factor, since orchestras generally do not perform or program the music of black composers outside the months of January or February (the times for Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday and/or Black History Month). Furthermore, black composers are often stereo-typed as being composers of jazz, gospel, and the blues, and nothing more.
  4. No one is a champion of my music. No conductor, no musician, not a college professor; no one. How does a composer get their works noticed when NO ONE responds to their solicitation?

I realize that it’s difficult for ALL composers! Yes, I do, but where’s one’s chance? Do you have to pay for it? Is it hidden in one of those call for scores opportunities that comes with a hefty entrance fee and an age limitation? Is it based on some dark, inside relationship that one must commit to? This is something to think about. What are the deciding factors?

I also have a beef with conductors who hand me their business card, and say, “email me”, or “phone me”. Yeah, I’ve followed up each time, reaching out to several conductors who seemed inviting with well intentions. However, my efforts after the follow-ups seemed like a teaser; like a woman leading a man on, only to lead him in the wrong direction. It’s a joke….it’s all one big joke! Several of these people, but certainly not all, are pretentious. And, do you wanna know something? Just for kicks, I contact numerous conductors, just to test the waters that there might be a scent of interest for one of my original orchestral works to receive a programmed performance. But,…..ha haaaaa……it’s like knocking on a 4-foot, thick door. No one’s listening.

I feel like this…..if music is your practice, then you ought to be a harmonious being; accepting people and music from all corners. You should also practice common courtesy.

It’s like an old, well-built, sturdy machine telling the people, “Hey, come play with me. I’ll be your friend. Bring me your music, and I’ll program it for you.” So, you engage this machine, but the machine doesn’t really want you. It’s programmed to act like it does want you…..that’s how it keeps afloat……….by keeping you interested and enticing you to engage it. It’s like that woman I mentioned earlier.

Someone mentioned to me that conductors are extremely busy people. Oh? Really? Well, I’m busy too. Composers are busy people, most often busy dealing with a lot of b.s. at promoting themselves and their work. I too study scores, and I spend numerous hours  composing music. I record, produce, teach, eat, sleep, and handle other personal responsibilities, just like a conductor. So, what’s so different? What is it? I often think about this, and perhaps, many conductors just do not have the freedom to program works by living composers, simply because those who are funding the orchestra prefer to hear the usual Bach, Brahms, Haydn, Beethoven, and……you get where I’m coming from. I would like to believe this to be the main reason, instead of it being a sort of holy territory, where only deceased composers or friends of conductors thrive.

It’s a lot to consider. I’m also talking about the wind band world as well. I once was told that the wind band arena would be more inviting than the orchestral realm, but both are equally biased. Friends conduct the music of friends. It’s all a game. You’re either someone’s friend, or you’re kissing someone’s ass to get ahead. It’s the truth, and that’s madness to me.

One hopeful outlook is that there’s an increasing number of young conductors coming on the scene, who possess a progressive interest in musical diversity. Unlike those I’ve previously encountered, I hope these emerging conductors are more engaging. Perhaps these will be the ones to dismantle the old machine. Things cannot remain the same if we are to move forward.