Glasow14I’m excited about this concert Thursday night on the California State University, East Bay campus, where my new chamber piece for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano will be performed. It’s called Fits. I’ve been working on it all year, and it will be fascinating to hear it – for real – for the first time. The concert will also feature pieces by CSU students, faculty and alumni Austin Graham, Paolo Terresani, Ryan Rey, and Jeffrey Miller, all performed by the great great great Redshift Ensemble.

I’m about to go rehearse the piece with them, basically for the first time. It’s a strange thing to spend months and months working on a piece, either at the piano, computer, or if you’re really good, at your desk, and really not know what you’re writing until you hear people play it for the first time. The real performance can be very difficult to evaluate at first, since it always sounds so different played by real people. It’s always better, but you have to listen as if you’ve never heard the piece before.

One thing I’ve noticed is that musicians’ tempos are often slower than the computer’s, but the nuances of a real performance bring so much energy into the music, that, even at a slower tempo, it feels just as fast. Or, to turn it around, the lifelessness of computer performance makes you crank up the tempos just to get the piece to feel like it has energy. I’m using the computer less and less these days, which I consider a huge leap forward for me. Hell, that doesn’t just go for composing, the less computer I use, the better, basically. But that’s another subject for another day.

I have to go start looking over the score, and getting mentally prepared for this rehearsal. We’ll make it good, I know. Those of you in the area, I would love for you to come hear my piece and the others on the program. Fits plays with questions of how things fit together, how individuals fit into groups, and more than anything, how a group may or may not fit the individuals it contains.

The group of people at the concert on Thursday night would like to contain you.



The music is Hildegard of Bingen’s O Jerusalem, from the early 1100s. Yes, the video shows fractals, and true, the association of psychedelic visuals with spiritual stuff is kind of silly, but in this case there is at least a passing resemblance to Hildegard’s own artworks, like:

An image from Scivias, Hildegard's description and depiction of 26 visions she had.


Also from Scivias

I love this piece of music, especially this performance, which is by the ensemble Sequentia.