A Picture for the Cover

I just received the artwork for the Dickinson set. It was done by a very talented artist, Mary Treschitta. This is an original piece designed specifically for this work. I’m so excited to have such a beautiful cover that really captures the essence of the poems and music.

Next Project

Well, it didn’t take too long.  My next project is scoring a short film entitled “Old Days” by Costas Costanta.  If you can, please help support this project by donating to the Kickstarter page.

Introduce Children to Music

I read this article on NPR’s “Deceptive Cadence” – check out the full text here.

Here is the last part about the author’s opinions on music and children – good stuff.

  • Talking down to kids about music never works, just as it doesn’t work in any other subject matter. Children can smell disingenuousness at a thousand paces. Moreover, there’s no reason to gate kids only to “music for children.” Yes, Peter and the Wolf is wonderful, but it’s not the endpoint of the journey.
  • I have yet to meet a small child who turns away from new music, even the supposedly “thorniest” — there are no preconceptions about what music is “supposed” to be, which is very freeing. Kids don’t sniff at abstract or modern visual art, and they don’t turn up their noses at abstract music, either.
  • Forget that “baby brain” business — that classical music should be listened to because it will help get your kid into Harvard. Not only do scientists say that it’s not true (though many companies have made a lot of money pushing the idea), but it’s not a good reason anyway. What’s the matter with listening to music purely for enjoyment? On the other hand, a few great things came out of that kind of marketing, like a segment from HBO’s “Classical Baby” series that marries a Miro painting to music by Bach. (You can check it out below.)
  • Smaller fry have yet to absorb the (false) notion that classical music is stuffy, snobby, or boring. It’s just sound, as far as they’re concerned. If they can dance to it, all the better.
  • Exposure to classical music shouldn’t be doled out in strictly educational, “eat-your-broccoli-because-it’s-good-for-you” doses. It can and should be part of the larger flow of life. In my own house, last evening’s play list included some of John Coltrane‘s Impulse sessions,Stravinsky‘s Wind Symphony, the Kronos Quartet‘s “Caravan” recording and the Yo Gabba Gabba album “Music Is Awesome.” (Yes, it is!)
  • Lots of the “traditional” avenues of introducing classical music and opera to children are not necessarily relevant to children today. Sure, there are the amazing Bugs Bunny cartoons like 1949’s “The Rabbit of Seville” or “What’s Opera, Doc?” (also known as “Kill the Wabbit”) from 1957, but they’re more than half a century old now, and so are many of the references within these cartoons.
  • Some live concert programming for kids is amazingly good. I’m a big fan of the current incarnation of the New York Philharmonic‘s Young People’s Concerts. Last season’s walk-through of Magnus Lindberg’s Feria should be required listening and viewing for audiences of all ages. (And the DVDs of Leonard Bernstein‘s Young People’s broadcasts are a staple in our home collection.) Some such children-focused programming, though good-intentioned, is honestly pretty awkward and stiff — and, when you get right down to it, deadly dull and earnest to a fault.
  • Humor is great. Everyone in our family loves Lemony Snicket and Nathaniel Stookey’s The Composer Is Dead, even though many of the jokes fly right over our kid’s head. And physical comedy never fails to please; I heard more belly laughs than I’ve heard in ages at Nathan Gunn’s performance as Papageno in a Metropolitan Opera “family” performance of the Julie Taymor-directed Magic Flute.
  • The music belongs to children just as much it belongs to “us” — the ones with the years of listening experience, who have already absorbed current conventions of concert-going practice (don’t applaud between movements, obey the dress code, etc.), and who might well have had years of formal training. Classical music isn’t a museum piece to be looked at and not touched, as it were.

A nice upgrade

I just installed my new set of 7 virtual instruments from EastWest Sounds – and they sound unbelievable! There is something to be said about having the right sound to inspire your creative juices. While most of it happens inside my head, it sure is nice to hear an amazingly close approximation validate what I was hearing in my head. I purchased the Complete Composers Collection which contains: Symphonic Orchestra Gold, Pianos Gold, Symphonic Choirs, Goliath, Stormdrum 2, Voices of Passion (think Gladiator), Ra (ethnic instruments). Amazingly efficient CPU load so far – seems like I’ll be able to load a lot of voices at once – even on my old G5, Dual 2 GHz!

Worth checking it out: http://www.soundsonline.com/Complete-Composers-Collection

On to new things

Had a blast watching a movie on a big screen, and hearing my music – it was cool.  Sure we will have more showings at film festivals in the future.

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But while that works itself out – time to move on to the next project – again, from a former student.  This is a short – last I saw it was about 12min or so. Heavy drama – so it will test my skills for sure.  Looking forward to it.  Oh, and a nice order from EastWest  – new samples arriving soon!



A first…

…for my film music aspirations.

I am going to the Bergenfield Film Festival tonight to see the screening of Honorable Retribution at the Clearview Cinema 5 theater. I am excited to see the film on a big screen, and hopefully hear a convincing soundtrack! I am also looking forward to hearing what other fellow composers are doing and make some meaningful contacts.

Here is a link to the festival website: http://www.bergenfieldfilmfestival.org/

And the schedule (HR is showing in Theater 5): For A PDF Schedule To This Year’s Festival

If you want to know a little more about the movie, its creator, and general information, check out the website: http://www.ejesusnieves.com/honorable-retribution.html

And the IMDb page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1690969/fullcredits#writers

I’ll post some pictures and twitter updates while I’m there. Here goes nothing.



Film Festival Debut

I just learned that the movie Honorable Retribution, for which I composed the soundtrack, has been accepted to the Bergenfield Film Festival in Bergenfield, NJ. This would be my first “sound appearance” in a film festival.  Wishing all involved with the film the best of luck. Here is the website for the festival being held on Thursday, May 5th at 7pm – at the Clearview Cinema.


I hope to get down and see/hear the movie on the big screen – very cool.

Moving Forward

I’ve just added the online store – have 2 albums up, and two manuscripts ready.  It helps to have them done – makes room in my head for the next project. Finish the Emily Dickinson – and then the next film score. Good times.

Emily Dickinson Set

The first round of editing is finished – this just highlighted several more corrections that need to be addressed. Once finished – trying to figure out how to self-publish the set.  I’m registered as a composer and publisher with ASCAP – still need to do some research on how this all works. Here are a few of the first pages.
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No, not a post about the first book of the Bible, or a throw-back to an 80’s rock group. I am speaking about the moment of creation – the initial spark of consciousness. As a composer, I have been grappling with this idea of genesis: Where do my ideas come from?

Did I create the music? I am beginning to feel that I am part of a greater consciousness, or stream of thought of which I am a small part. I am learning to listen to what seems to already be there, to already exist. No, I am not simply writing down what I hear, but describing it through music – and that is the magical part. Of course the interpretation of this, the infinite amount of variables among composers, allow for such a diversity of output. My training, musical taste, life experiences, etc, all effect how I listen to the world, interpret what I hear, and contribute back to the greater consciousness through my music.

The act of contributing back is not possible without performance – and there is an interesting dialogue that occurs here.  A composer interprets the musical soul through writing it down, and the performer is the one who further interprets the idea – This contribution back to the collective musical soul thus alters it by its mere presence. here I speak of influences.

It is easy for me to trace my influences.  While I love music from many composers, I have to say the composer that speaks the most to me, or whom, in my opinion, best communicated the abstract to me, is Ravel. Of course, I have been ‘influenced’ by many composers and styles of music, but the most influential to me would be the ’sound’ that most stirs my soul – and to me, Ravel captures something in his music that speaks to me as clear as day.  I don’t try to understand the abstract part of it, I just listen and enjoy it. Study and analysis certainly help shed light on the music – but usually only formally quantify that which I already felt in the musical soul.

To me, music always has an image associated with it.  In a sort of contrived ‘genesis,’ I decided to set a poem to music in order to get my creative juices flowing.  I picked up a collection of Emily Dickinson, and immediately settled on this one.


Will there really be a “Morning”?

Is there such a thing as “Day”?

Could I see it from the mountains

If I were as tall as they?


Has it feet like Water lilies?

Has it feathers like a Bird?

Is it brought from famous countries

Of which I have never heard?


Oh some Scholar! Oh some Sailor!

Oh some Wise Men from the skies!

Please to tell a little Pilgrim

Where the place called “Morning” lies!


The irony does not escape me. The search for the ethereal morning (which is an entirely different discussion about the search for heaven in my opinion) is very similar to my longing to learn how to listen to the musical soul. As a student of music, I hope that I can better understand and grasp the process by which the great composers have created such masterpieces. I just need to keep listening – both inward and out – and hopefully that spark, or moment of creation will reveal to me something more – something unknown, yet intimately familiar.

A Benefit in Stamford

A group picture of the performers after the concert. Pictured (L to R) Kirsten Allegri, Elise Quagliata, Amy Buckley, Dmitry Iogman, Michael Cooney.

An old friend from UCONN, Dmitry (Dima) Iogman, found me on facebook and asked me to participate in a benefit concert – and, of course, I was there to lend support in raising money for a family member who is diagnosed with cancer.  Little did I know that it would become a great little UCONN reunion with singers Amy Buckley, Elise Quagliata.  And there was also Kirsten Allegri, whom my wife met at the Aspen Music Festival years ago.  All were there to lend support – it was beautiful. What some thought was going to be a little show, became a concert of masterful musicianship from all. One run-through with each performer, and that was it – show-time! It was great to be able to pull it all together with master musicians!


Here is the letter Dima sent to us.

“Hello Guys…. Once again… thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!  I as so very humble by the caliber of people who’ve casually decided to walk into my life and have stayed in touch for years.  Nothing in this world means more that those invisible ties that bind us together.  You all have helped me in a time of need and can expect the same of me any time.   Kirsten and Mac Especially you too have leave me with no other words but humility and true gratitude.

I would like to say that you should all be, as i am extremely proud of what we accomplished on such short notice with no rehearsal time.  We have raised over $7,000 for a family in true need of support, (and the money is still pouring in).  But not only that……, for a whole following week the entire community was buzzing about a concert that they went to out of respect and planed to leave at intermission…. but instead were completely taken by surprise by the high level of performance and musicality that they saw…. and considered themselves Lucky to have seen something so special…… in little old Stamford.

thank you,