Last Ghost Premiere Announcement

I realize we are nearly a month an a half into the year, but I am still reeling from a pretty intense six weeks. Just before New Years, Joy Music House took on the project The Last Black Man in San Francisco, and I had the pleasure of orchestrating Emile Mosseri’s beautiful score. He’s a very talented composer and a really wonderful guy. We had recording sessions that entire week, including a brass quartet on New Year’s Day and a remote string session the day after. The film was very well received at its Sundance premiere.

I had the opportunity to participate in the Helix Collective’s new series Pulling Back the Curtain, a concert featuring the music of the assistants, the people behind the scenes who often assist other composers, but don’t often have the same opportunities to share their music. I have spent the last couple of years serving on the score production teams for several composers, which earned me the consideration.

The score and parts were due in mid February, which only gave me about three weeks to either rearrange an older work, or compose a new 10-minute piece for chamber orchestra. Of course I wanted to challenge myself to write something new.

But the blank page is hard enough when I have inspiration to propel me forward. Without it, it is more challenging. I like parameters, a visual or a story of any kind. Limitations can be illuminating, provide guidance. It was helpful knowing that I had a palette of nine players: solo violin, viola, cello, bass, piano, marimba, flute, clarinet and horn.

In mid January, I went to northeastern Nevada for a couple of weeks to see my dad. He lives in the high desert which was covered in snow and was seeing nightly lows of about 10 Fahrenheit degrees. He decided it was time to move to a retirement community, to downsize. He had been living in the house alone since my mom passed away in 2014, and at 93, it had become overwhelming. He used to take care of everything, but no longer had the same energy. So my brother and sister and I spent the weekend moving him and all his necessities, and cleaning out the house, the place we all grew up.

The last day before I came back to sunny—rather, rainy, but still a hell of a lot warmer—Los Angeles, I was in the nearly empty house alone ruminating on its 40-plus-year-history in our family. And even though it hasn’t been my home for more than twenty years, being there still fills my brain with intimate nostalgia. I know this place so well, and to see it empty… it was the end of something deeply personal for me.

I started writing a poem to capture the gamut of emotions, and as my rambling started to come together, I began to write the music. In four short sections, I sought to understand everything I felt in that last night: a seemingly bottomless well of grief, loneliness and cynicism, but also moments of wonder and joy, gratitude and happiness, even euphoria. I relived many wonderful memories flipping through pictures, and seeing time pass quickly. On that last night when all the lights were out, I moved through the echoey space, and mused to myself that I was the only thing haunting this place now.

And that is what Last Ghost in the House is about: a saying goodbye, of a sort.

The piece will premiere March 16, 2019 at 7PM at the Barnsdall Park Theatre. More info about the concert is available here, and tickets are available here.

I will be posting more about this, including the poem, very soon.

Emo Dad Season 2, and other updates!

Everyday is a new discovery. It's not always what I envision. But the important thing for me is daily progress. There must be steps forward toward the goal, regardless of how many or how large. That is how a day ends fulfilled.

The biggest story is the release of Emo Dad Season 2! Beginning in July, Fine Brothers Entertainment, Inc. released the episodes periodically on YouTube, while Fullscreen Entertainment, released all episodes at once on their platform fullscreen.

I put an inquiry into the corporate overlords about creating a behind the scenes video, but permission hasn't materialized. The budget allowed the score to expand beyond a live oboe, violin and cello, to include alto flute, English horn, viola, electric guitar and ukulele. The rest of the orchestra was sampled.

The challenge was that each cue, regardless of how short, was a pretty good sized orchestra, and at an average of 10 per episode, had two or three versions, mostly due to picture changes. It was like painting very small detailed little paintings, painstakingly and lovingly rendered, every brush stroke, deliberate and curated. The project folder contained nearly 90 Gigabytes of files.

I am very pleased with the result and have wanted to release a soundtrack. Hopefully before the end of the year...

I recently updated my credits page. It was more complicated than expected, since Squarespace has designs on what it presumes people want to put online, but composition isn't a common enough industry to have credit-friendly templates. If I added all the time I spent staring at the Spinning Beachball of Death, I could easily log a week. And I do second guess if I should post everything I have ever written? I tend to favor completeness, but I do like options.

But before updates or rhetorical ruminating on any aspects of putting work out into the world technical or philosophical, must come the work itself. Music must be written first before it is promoted, or at least be in the latter stages of completion. I have two pieces for concert band that I'm working on, and an arrangement of a third. Also a piece for orchestra, and a chamber piece. And theoretically and most exciting: I have a looming commission, though the date is currently written in smoke.

My work on a short film, entitled Bloom, is nearly complete. I pulled double-duty on this one as sound editor and re-recording mixer and composer. Thank goodness for my connections in the sound industry, and for Izotope RX. For the score, I chose piano, light strings, and a wind quintet, harps, synths, dulcimer and the Soundiron libraries Circle Bells and Cathedral of Junk. It is a palette suited for the dark humor and sincere emotion of the work. I really pushed myself here to create something different from what I normally do. There are elements of me, but I tried to stretch a little farther--I always do, but this felt different in a way I struggle to articulate.

I felt emboldened by a project that I worked on over the course of the summer. It is a project that has yet to be completed, but it is a dark procedural-style drama. Big orchestral palette with lots of synths. I loved it! It was a lot of work, and continues to be so, but for now is on hold. While I felt as though I was made to do this film, it was hard. The hardest thing I have ever done. A constant kaleidoscope of shifting timbres, and with only sample libraries to work with, turned out to be more of a challenge than I anticipated. The subject matter was challenging, too. It was hard to not be an audience to my own experience with the film. That's all I will discuss for now. I look forward to sharing it with you.

Next up is the hardest thing yet (always push the bar a little higher): an idea I have mulled around for years that will become that aforementioned chamber piece. I know work will begin in just a few days, but I wonder if it is ready. Has it percolated enough? Enough to be cohesive or viable? We shall see. Ambitiously (overly so) I may try to squeeze in a Halloween something or other if the spooky stars align.