Prayer of St. Francis

This is my last post as an Emerging Artist grantee for Creative Pinellas.  I normally do not post about religion, but, following my experience with the Artist’s Showcase this weekend, I would like to share my favorite prayer by my favorite saint, as it articulates my philosophy as an artist and my art:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace

Where there is hatred, let me sow love

Where there is injury, pardon

Where there is doubt, faith

Where there is despair, hope

Where there is darkness, light

And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master

Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console

To be understood as to understand

To be loved as to love

For it is in giving that we receive

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Thank you,

Suzanne Wieland




Winding down…

During the course of this grant period, I have had the opportunity to create and to perform.  These past few months have been fruitful, creative, and productive.  I have met many people, both local and from other parts of the world and have enjoyed interacting with them.  I have a lot of ideas of future projects, of ways I can grow not only for myself as a musician, but for the artistic community and Creative Pinellas in particular.  I have enjoyed having the opportunity to show my work and to introduce myself to new audiences.  I am especially looking forward to the lecture this week and the musical performance next week.  However, my musical journey will not stop here.  I will continue to write and perform locally, and hopefully outside the Bay area as well.  I will network with band directors to create interest in my music for wind ensemble.  I hope to find local singers who would rally in support of my choral requiem.  I wish to have more pieces performed and recorded.  I may return to school to further study composition.  I will definitely attend more festivals and masterclasses.  Whatever I do, you can follow me on social media, as I do post regularly.



Burning the Midnight Oil

The grant period is winding down, and for me that means the Exposition is fast approaching.  As part of the grant I am commissioned to write a five minute work to be performed in workshop.  This music is for chamber ensemble.

I have decided to write a trio for flute, oboe and piano.  The challenging part was finding musicians available and willing to perform a piece of new music on September 20.  Once I found my group, the writing was able to begin.

I have been working and focusing solely on my exhibition concert and other musical projects have temporarily been moved to the back burner.  I have made progress on the trio, but a lot of work still remains to be done before I can hand the music to the other musicians.  Each day I add little by little.  The growth of music is organic, yet one must step up when there is a deadline to be had.  My normal meticulous nature must now stand aside and let my perfectionism make way for speed.

I am confident in the final outcome of this presentation, which both the organizers and I have been looking forward to.  However, it is not there yet.  The time for procrastination is over.  That being said, let me return to the drawing board and I’ll let you know when I come up for air!


Editing: Getting the Big Picture

A few thoughts:

It is important in music to experiment with new ideas.  Not only to get ideas, but the ability to expound upon them.  Composition deals with details; making sure the score has adequate markings and is readable.  It also deals with the larger picture, the form of the piece, and its development from beginning to end.

One number important to all artists is the Golden Ratio.  It is used in visual arts but is also used in music composition.  It is the standard of beauty in our culture.

I also learned about the different ways composers use phrases.  Phrases can be expanded or contracted to fit the desired number of measures.  Also, when something is restated, it should be different from the way it was said before.

When dealing with text, a composer makes a choice to emphasize certain words, even syllables, more than others.  Repetition and stress can make the meaning stick out to the listener.  The use of motives and differences in instrumentation make a difference in how a melodic progression can be memorable.

All these ideas are thoughts I have in mind while revising and improving existing pieces.


National Flute Convention

This years NFA convention was held in Orlando, FL.  I attended many concerts with flute, piano, and other instruments.  A highlight of the convention was the concerto concert on Saturday night, where several well-known flutists performed with an orchestra, including Marian Gedigan and Jasmine Choi.  Several new flute works were premiered at the convention.

I find that conventions are a great opportunities to brush up on repertoire and network with other musicians.  Some of my most positive experiences as a composer include performing my own works on flute, including my Fantasy and Sonata for Flute and Piano.  I have also written a concerto for flute and orchestra, which I hope someday to perform live.




I finished with my second meeting with Mark Sforzini.  We had a very interesting discussion, part of which is the element of music I am writing about today.

Texture in music refers to instruments and the way they relate to each other.  Texture can be thick or thin (one instrument).  Texture can be homophonic (an acapella choir) or multiphonic (a woodwind choir).  Texture is one of the ways a composer can communicate harmony and create tension.  Texture can be very simple, such as block chords, or more complex.

Each voice in a musical ensemble is unique, and adding or subtracting a voice affects the overall effect of the piece.  This is why texture is important.  For example, if you put the more nasal quality of the oboe next to the open sounding flute, it changes the tone color.  It is just important when writing to know what instruments to use as it is to know what to write.

Suppose a composer has decided what instruments she wants to write for.  The texture of the piece can change by changing the rhythms, either a slow sustained note or pulsing quarter notes.  One idea we discussed was having the strings play a note and having the woodwinds come in a beat later.

Musical compositions, much like paintings, have a foreground and a background.  Music can be scored in a way that emphasizes and supports a melodic or harmonic figure.  Thus, composing can create depth.  Some compositions even have a melody and a countermelody.  This is called counterpoint.

It is interesting to experiment with instruments, the different voices and colors and how they sound.  There are almost limitless possibilities one can create even with a few instruments.  Anything can happen in a short amount of time.  This is why score study is so complicated, and continues to fascinate me.






There are some things about listening that I wanted to share.  There were some symphonic band pieces not available on Spotify, such as this piece:


Also, there are a lot of good band pieces on this playlist, including David Maslanka, John Barnes Chance,  Karel Husa, Frank Ticheli and others.


If you are in the mood to indulge your inner choral geek, this playlist has a lot of contemporary composers who write for choir, including Eric Whitacre, Morton Laurdisen and Ola Gjeilo.




I attended a composers retreat at the Walden School in New Hampshire in 2014.  This year, I received an invitation to attend an alumni event.  When they told me they wanted me to write a piece for them, I was on board.

After seeing the list of available instruments, I decided to write a woodwind trio.  I created a piece for flute, oboe and bassoon.  I patterned it after the Imani Winds trio, a group that performs out of New York.

A week later, I received an email from the event coordinator saying that they were very happy with the piece, but could I please re-score it because the second part would be played by clarinet instead of oboe.  I said…um…ok.

I enjoyed re-visiting the camp, as it is in a very beautiful area of New Hampshire.  I got to hear the piece performed and it went very well.  I got several good comments afterward.

Anyway, now that I’m back I am going to be working on my pieces for maestro Sforzini and the composers’ exposition in September.  I hope to get recordings of the woodwind trio performance and the Charlotte Music Festival as well.


my lesson

My mentor for the Emerging Artist grant is Maestro Mark Sforzini.  He is the director of the St. Petersburg Opera and the Tampa Bay Symphony.  I have had the privilege of working with him before, as I did a stint as the principal flute of the Tampa Bay Symphony.  During this time, I also got to observe his abilities as a composer, as we played one of his pieces.

We held our lesson at the St. Pete Opera headquarters.  We discussed one of the movements of my Requiem.  He had a lot of good ideas about orchestration.  Some of the changes he suggested included changing instruments and using different registers.  He also felt that when writing vocal music, music should reflect the text.

It is very helpful to me after having written a piece to have it heard by another set of ears, especially by a trained musician who can offer feedback.  A mentor can hear things you probably have not thought of and give a fresh take.  I am also hoping for career advice from someone who knows this area and has a lot of wonderful ideas of what can be done, and what it takes.


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