Crazy or Inspired? Workshopping Orchestral Drafts

The first rehearsal of a new orchestra piece is often painful. Conductor and players need time to sort out what they are dealing with, and a composer who is foolish enough to be present can easily panic: what have I done?  Now imagine doing all that in public. My Music Alive residency with the South Dakota Symphony mandates finding a way to open up the creative process to the public. What we came up with in Sioux Falls was an open rehearsal on my new work in progress.

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A New Day for New Music?

Could we be turning a corner? Is the newest music becoming the hottest thing – in “classical” music of all places? Let’s not get carried away with our metaphors, but, even recognizing that I’m an optimist, I’d say there are signs of a sea change taking place.

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Gaining a Voice

I’ll call her Emily. A junior at Pine Ridge High School, on the Lakota Sioux Pine Ridge Reservation, Emily came into the Composition Academy with dark glasses on and hood up, silent except to say that she was not a creative person. She participated in group warm-ups and games only grudgingly. And yet she would sit at the piano before each day’s workshops, playing Chopin and Beethoven by ear – note-perfect melodies and accompaniments almost exactly as written. She only ever had two piano lessons. The instrument came to her naturally, and she was clearly a close listener.

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Confessions of an American Gugak Composer

Sometime around 2010, for some reason, I began to become infatuated with gugak–Korean traditional music. Doubtless it began with visits to Seoul and its enchanting old palaces, folk festivals, and mountains. Friends I made among traditional musicians are part of it too. But gugak is an acquired taste. To many Western ears, some kinds of gugak are difficult to listen to. Somehow, for me it has an ever-deepening appeal, even though the more I delve into it, the stranger it becomes.

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On the Necessity of Young People’s Concerts for Schools

Since I left the New York Philharmonic in February, I’ve done projects with several other orchestras that have got me thinking about the place of orchestral concerts for school audiences. The model has been around for so long that it’s tempting to question whether they are still relevant, useful, and affordable. Schools have increasing trouble with buses, let alone field trips in the era of high-stakes testing. I created and performed dozens of them at the Philharmonic, but have we simply been on auto-pilot? Surely we have evolved more impactful and practical ways of engaging kids in music in the 40-odd years of professional education staffs at orchestras.

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Upcoming Events


American Violin Concertos

american violin concertos theodore wiprud ittai shapira katrina

Violin Concerto (Katrina) performed by Ittai Shapira and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

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gamin nong theodore wiprud

The first recording of Wiprud's Mudang for p'iri and strings, by dedicatee gamin and string quartet ETHEL.

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Fire In Heaven And Earth

fire in heaven and earth theodore wiprud

The first recording devoted to the composer's work, featuring four works of vocal, chamber, and orchestral music.

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