This coming Wednesday night (Dec. 3 @ 7:30pm) the Western Oregon Symphony will be performing one of my pieces, Citations Musicales, an arrangement I made of three Erik Satie piano pieces, transcribed and adapted for full orchestra. This has been a wonderful project for me, and it will be the first time a complete orchestra work of mine will be performed publicly. (Listen to a sample of the music on YouTube here.)
It is actually going to be the third time I have worked with an orchestra on a piece of mine. This past March, I had a reading session with the visiting strings-only group, Chamber Orchestra Kremlin, of two movements of a totally original composition titled Enkidu Suite (inspired by the Gilgamesh epic). The reading went really well — they are amazing players — but the piece is still a work-in-progress and not ready for public performance. Still, while working on that piece I was inspired to work on a piece for full orchestra, and came up with the plan of doing the Satie arrangement and began working on it almost a year ago. In June, The Western Oregon Symphony performed an early version of the first movement of Citations Musicales.
I find Satie’s style very evocative and striking. The Sarabande that I orchestrated is probably my favorite of his pieces, and I find it very charming and beautiful. Each of the three pieces I selected presented different challenges for how to use the orchestra to capture the essence of the music. i am sure with each one my technique has grown considerably.
Something else I am learning in this process is how much work is involved with seemingly simple tasks such as revising the score and parts when I decide on a change or find a mistake. I have done one relatively “minor” revision to the first movement, and made small changes or fixes to quite a few of the parts. (Just tonight we found a mistake in the cello part, and decided on a change in the timpani part!) I have no idea how much time total I have spent just revising parts and score, but any change always takes longer than I would anticipate. “Engraving” a music part involves not just the notes, but anything relating to the overall format that might change when you change a note. A change in a part also needs to be reflected in the conductor’s score, which has very different formatting requirements. So revisions are a detail-oriented and time-consuming task! When possible I try to maintain a file of my own notes on changes needed, so I can do as many in a batch as I can.
I am pleased to be presenting my piece, and thankful to the orchestra players and director Dr. Ike Nail for making this possible. I anticipate a great performance on Wednesday night, and I know this has been a great experience for me as a composer!