Today is google’s tenth birthday, and as part of the celebration, they’ve made their search index from January 2001 available. It is very interesting to go through and see the results for some terms. The comments at reddit cover quite a bit. I played with it for a few minutes, and then decided to google myself. Sharing a name with an Actor tends to put a crimp in my google ranking, but never the less I discovered something associated with me on only the second page: My Young Composers entry. I was surprised that it was even still available.
The page contains a picture of me from my Junior year in high school, and two musical compositions that I was working on during that time period, both of which has been lost to time. Variations was my major opus for the year, but it’s the other work “Song” that I was really interested in. “Song” is the title of a John Donne poem. As part of my Music Theory I class, I had set the first verse to music. The file is a midi representation of the Finale Music file.
What’s interesting about this work is that I did not stop working on “Song.” Over the next several months, I set the rest of the poem to music, transcribed it into a different notation program (Sibelius), and entered it into a composition contest being sponsored by SMSU. To my astonishment, I was selected as a finalist, and had my composition performed by the SMSU choir. There was some drama about this, as the letter that informed me of this had sat on a desk unnoticed for several weeks while I wondered when I was ever going to hear anything. Luckily, it was discovered before the performance.
I walked into the performance nervously with my family. In the hallways, I started to relax though, as I walked by actual choir members rehearsing my music. This was actually happening! It was a feeling I cannot forget. I sat in the back and suffered through the first performance of the night. It was some unaccompanied solo oboe piece that gave me a serious headache. Then the choir marched out and began singing. The experience was overwhelming.
The final piece was a work for wind ensemble. As soon as they started playing, I began to doubt if I would win. The piece was really great. When they finished, the judges conferred.
A side note: If you click on my Young Composers Entry, you’ll see that one of my favorite compoers at the time was David Holsinger. Holsinger held demi-god status to me. I bought his CD’s, jumped at opportunities to play his music. I kept hoping he would come out with a Euphonium Solo I could perform. As it turns out, Holsinger had been tapped by SMSU to judge this composition contest. My composition was being performed for my contemporary musical hero. Could this night have gotten any better? Well, yeah, if I won.
The judges returned and announced their decision. The Wind Ensemble piece won the prize. I can’t remember what the prize was; it just wasn’t important to me. The big thing was that the piece was being performed by actual people. Nothing was said about 2nd or 3rd place. The event was over, and it was time to go. My band teacher had come for the performance, as well as my Music Theory teacher (who was also the choir teacher). At the time, I had no idea what to feel, but they both shook my hand. A number of people in the audience did, but I was still feeling a bit overwhelmed and numb.
Suddenly, I found myself in a bear hug, then being dragged off over to the side. As I came to my senses, I looked to see who it was: David Holsinger. I blinked, not really understanding what was going on. He had a thing or two to say to me. He didn’t want me to feel bad about the outcome at all. He felt the piece had been incredible and demonstrated a lot of talent. There were a few things that I could do to improve the piece (check the range of the soprano part, for example). I was nodding my head, thanking him, and wondering if I could ask for an autograph. I never did ask for his autograph.
In the following months until I graduated High School, there was some talk about getting the music published, but I never looked into it seriously. Perhaps I should have. I started school in the fall at the UMKC Conservatory of Music, but I haven’t finished a serious composition since I wrote “Song” (later, I renamed it to reflect the first line of the poem – “Sweetest Love I do no Go”). I’ve started several, but haven’t finished them. Well, that’s ignoring were silly things like putting “Green Eggs and Ham” to music. I’ve done a few arrangements, but nothing too serious. Going to the conservatory really burned me out on music. I finished my degree in it, but it got to the point where I couldn’t stand it for a while.
Never-the-less, that night is one of my proudest achievements.