Commission from L'ensemble Portmantô

BIG NEWS! Montreal’s L’ensemble Portmantô, artisticly co-directed by my friend Mark Bradley, have asked me to join them as composer in residence. I mentioned this on here before briefly, but perhaps didn’t elaborate on what a big deal this is. As a relatively unheard of composer, I spend nearly as much time sending emails to ensembles and mailing scores and demos as I do actually writing music. Getting a composer in residence gig is the dream job, because it means, essentially, that I’ve got an ensemble. No more need to worry about if what I’m writing will ever get played! I can now write totally freely, and know that I’ve got a band interested in performing it. And the gig is for life.

Now, you might ask, “don’t you write the music that you want to write anyway?” and the answer would be yes, I do, but it’s a real drag to spend six months working on a piece and then never have it performed. So I’ve moved away from that, and toward “find someone who wants to play it, THEN write it for their instrumentation.” It’s still pretty free, but usually project based, instead of just writing away. That’s one reason I’ve been moving toward writing more electronic music that I can perform on my own.

In any case, I’m absurdly excited about this! They’re all such good players, and I love Montreal so am excited to visit whenever we book a show. Aside from being a member of the band, they’ll also occasionally give me specific commissions. I’ve just received the details about my very first one for them, and it’s pretty sweet.

Basically, they want a young composer to respond to a masterwork on each concert of their next season. The Beethoven Septet is in there, as is the Schubert Octet, and some Prokofiev and some other cats. I was assigned a piece by Philippe Leroux entitled AAA. It was my first choice, because Leroux lives in Montreal and is apparently a really nice guy, so hopefully we’ll get to hang. Oh, and because it’s a totally sweet piece. Here’s an excerpt:

The commission will be for clarinet and string quartet, and I think I’m going to think of it as a mini clarinet concerto. That way once Portmantô are done with it I can arrange it for clarinet and string orchestra. Always got to be pragmatic diggity. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll post more news on here as things progress. Off to the beach/Father’s Office/avoiding Carmageddon here in LA.