Category: Projects

2017 Updates

And here I am again a year later… I hope it’s not too late to talk about the summer. I spent about seven weeks of it in my hometown of Cainta in the Philippines, finishing up the last bits of Feuertrunken, a timpani and bass drum-ridden concert opener for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and attempting to enjoy home after my three-year absence. During that time, Tiffany Liong-Gabuya of the local classical music radio station, 98.7 DZFE was kind enough to invite me to their beautiful studio at a high-rise in Ortigas Center for an interview on their “Maestro Filipino” program. Tiffany and I had a fun, lively conversation about how I fell into the musical life, and the minutiae of being a Filipino composer. The program, in two parts, aired sometime this week and the last. I did not catch them due to the time difference between Manila and the East Coast (not to mention, naturally, my aversion to the sound of my own voice), but the station does post their interviews to SoundCloud every Friday for those of you to whom such things are interesting.

Armed with my spanking new O-1 visa, which now finally puts me far and away from being a student, I returned to my beloved New York earlier in September and jumped back right into work with The Canales Project, with a full season ahead, and TCP Ventures, which is co-organizing the second CultureSummit in Abu Dhabi in April 2018. The first one earlier this year was a blast and left me energized and excited about the notion of culture as a solution to first-order world problems; it is a joy and privilege to be among the extremely bright and talented minds of the Summit, and if I’m the dumbest person in the room, I’ve always considered it a good thing.

October was quite a full month, and I found myself not only in the thick of composing and administrating but also at the piano seat; first at The Canales Project’s appearance at the National Gallery of Art’s long-running music series, where I had the brief but great pleasure of accompanying Kaoru Watanabe on his composition “Shinobu” for the shinobue flute. The other featured performers were pianist Lara Downes and the tabla virtuoso Sandeep Das, who easily brought the house down not only with their artistry but with their charm, passion, and humanity…

And then, for the second time, at the annual TEDxMidAtlantic conference in downtown Washington, D.C., where once again the honor was all mine to accompany Carla Dirlikov Canales on a couple of songs. Carla is a world-renowned opera singer, and I am a conservatory-trained composer, but neither of us is immune to the many joys of a simple, upbeat pop tune with only three chords. I am looking forward to seeing the video come out. For now, please enjoy the video below from last year’s conference of our performance of two lovely songs from Carnegie Hall’s Lullaby Project, featuring Jessica Garand on viola.

As for the rest of November, I am putting the finishing touches on (i.e., writing the bulk of) a new piece for the Manila Symphony Orchestra, as well as looking forward to my world premiere with the DSO—both pieces will play on the two same dates, December 9 and 10, on opposite sides of the world. Details in my Calendar page, though I expect I will be posting again closer to December to express my excitement.

Projects Big and Small, 2015–16

Juan Luna, Spoliarium (1884)

The 2015–16 season is upon us, and things are settling nicely (as nicely as things can settle in the world of concert music) after the whirlwind that was the beginning of a new academic year at Juilliard, so some small updates are in order.

Two big things are lined up my way: first, the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute in January, in which I will take part, and in which a slightly revised Magayon will receive its professional orchestra premiere. Needless to say, I’m terribly fortunate to see this piece performed a second time, and thrilled to hear what magic the Minnesota Orchestra will work on it.

Second, a new piece for the New Juilliard Ensemble’s season-closing concert in April is in the works. This time I’ve chosen for my subject the most famous of Filipino paintings, Juan Luna’s Spoliarium, which depicts a scene from a chamber in the Roman Colosseum where the bodies of fallen gladiators were dragged and stripped of their armor—a deliciously ripe subject for a piece if I ever saw one!

But big projects are giant curtains that obscure a different, more uncertain world underneath, made of smaller projects, and full of scurrying and scrambling to make things happen. A few days ago, for instance, I completed a new work for viola and piano—provisionally titled Air—for my colleague Drew Alexander Forde. A performance or two will more or less certainly take place at Juilliard some time toward the end of the concert season, though these things can be quite fluid, and the premiere might very well occur sooner. And now I occupy myself with a quick setting of the Magnificat for the Philippine-American Choral Project in New York; of course, updates to come as things unfold.