Charlotte New Music Festival, part 2

Our first night was an open mic night.  Then, I was the first person to give my presentation (Gulp!) but it went pretty well.  Each of us was assigned to write a piece for a guest ensemble.  I wrote a piece for Duo Zonda which was performed at Google Fiber Space in downtown Charlotte.

Other performers were the Red Clay Sax Quartet, the Beo String Quartet and Hypercube, all of which are dedicated to performing music.  They are very generous with young composers, taking time to answer our questions and make sure they get things right.

We got to hear from other composers who won national composition contests, as well as instrumentalists, university professors, and composers making their living in other ways.  Most of the performance venues were at venues in downtown Charlotte, including bars, microbreweries, and a warehouse turned into an art gallery.

Some of the people I met include New York saxophonist Erin Rogers and composition professor Kyong-Mee Choi.  They were both very open and interested in listening and gave me musical feedback as well as career advice.  All in all, I came home with a lot of ideas about things I could do back home (not to mention some delicious meals).


Charlotte New Music Festival

For the past two weeks, I have been attending Charlotte New Music Festival in North Carolina.  It is a composers workshop where composers can study with teachers and hopefully learn something we can take with us into our careers.  We attended seminars with experts and concerts with musical ensembles.  We were also given the opportunity to share with composers our own work and talk about how we write (which composers love to do).

It was held on the campus of Queens University and several other venues throughout town.  I have met new friends from all over the country and shared many new experiences which I will share in detail later.


more projects

I enjoy lavish pieces that explore the whole spectrum of human emotions.  I also enjoy music that explores different textures and combinations of instruments.  I like music that combines vocal with instruments.  So, this is why I decided to write for chorus and orchestra.  I was inspired by composers who wrote sacred music of all genres and time periods.

The medium in which I was writing demanded respect for ancient liturgical traditions.  However, there was also great freedom in that every composer sees something different, even though the words are the same.

One of the pieces I wrote was a requiem.  I dedicated it to a friend who died in a car accident.  It uses both scripture and poetry.

I am currently working on a dramatic interpretation of Christ’s passion.  In this piece, I am exploring dramatic roles.  I alternate between choir and soloists.  I will report more as I continue to make progress.

It is a wonderful challenge to be able to write these traditional works in a new way, and I hope listeners will see something new in them.


My recent projects

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a hard core band geek.  I think that some of the best music written today is written for symphonic band.  I have also found that bands are more willing to program music written by contemporary composers.

It was only natural, then, that when looking to express musical ideas in a large scale with myriads of possibilities of texture and sound I should go back to my musical roots and look toward writing for band.

Bands are challenging for a number of reasons.  The instrumentation was more than I had written for, and includes many transposing instruments.  I had to use a larger score than I ever had before and even had to buy new software (more on Finale vs. Sibelius later).  Also, a composer must take into account the skill level of the ensemble.  Is the piece written for middle, high school or professional musicians?  One must challenge the students, but not overwhelm them.

However, I was up to the challenge.  I composed several pieces. The first of which was a theme and variations on an African American folk song.  The second piece was called Poseidon Calling.  A more advanced piece, it included nautical imagery and motifs.  The theme was about a person who journeys far only to return home again.

My most recent piece was a suite for symphonic band entitled Naiads and Dryads.  For this piece I did research on myths and legends dealing with trees and bodies of water.  I found out that cultures around the world believed in creatures that lived in bodies of water.  I portrayed the legends musically, what is called a tone poem.  Some of these spirits had joyful stories, some sad, such as the spirit of a woman whose children had drowned.  I was most interested in the story of Melusina.  A Celtic legend, this story tells of a nymph (mermaids live in the ocean, nymphs are freshwater beings) who falls in love with a human.  The movement contains a happy courtship and a wedding, but ends in despair.  While she can take a human form, her husband has forbidden her to return to her natural state, and so she is forced to sneak out at night  to swim in secret.  Tragically, he catches her and abandons her.  In her grief, she transforms into a wailing banshee and is still heard haunting the walls of the castle.

I enjoyed writing these pieces because I was able to utilize different band instruments, including winds and percussion.  I used a lot of the knowledge I had gained in taking instrumental methods and conducting which I hadn’t used since, but have always wanted to.  I have a lot of ideas that I would like to use in writing for band again, but I have put them aside for now.  I have many concepts for other projects, which I will discuss in detail later.




















People often ask me:  What inspires your art?  Well, a number of things actually.  I am inspired by nature.  I am also interested in mythology, history and literature.  I try to write music that expresses a mood, a character, or a story.

Much of my music is of a religious nature.  I am interested in the intersection of the sacred and the contemporary, that which is timeless, and that which is relevant to now.

My goal is to write music that is aesthetically beautiful, inspirational, and cathartic, yet pleasing to the ears.  I begin with an idea.  Sometimes I have a particular combination of instruments in mind; sometimes the piece develops itself.

I spend time composing every day.  I do not use sketchbooks but  I let things ferment in my mind.  I am constantly listening to music (which is why I share my playlists from time to time).

I believe that every musical expression is unique, even if it has been done before.  Context informs the material and the choices we make add (or detract) from the effect of the piece.

As a performer, it is important for me to write music that the performers will enjoy.  I have learned to respect the rehearsal process, believing that art is collaborative in its nature, and that no one person can wholly create music.  It is to be experienced by all musicians involved, even the audience.

Here’s hoping that my music will in some way, enrich and bless your life.



I would like to take this opportunity to talk a little about myself as a performer.  My first experiences as a composer included performing songs I had written myself.  I recorded these pieces on YouTube, including the Sonata for Flute and Piano, which I premiered at the Florida Flute Fair and Romantic Fantasy for Flute and Piano, which I premiered at Wildacres Retreat in North Carolina.https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCizrWoJqkknHFhRWMRPNPEw?view_as=subscriber


Ready, set, compose

I am thrilled and excited to be here as one of the winners of the Emerging Artist grant!  I am looking forward to working with Creative Pinellas over the course of the next few months.

A little about myself:  I am a music lover.  I enjoy performing in groups throughout the Bay area.  It was recently that I decided that I had a creative bent, and I wanted to express it through music.  So it was only natural for me to use mediums that I was most passionate about, namely flute, my primary instrument, symphonic band, and chorus.

Growing up in Pinellas county, I was very active in my high school band.  I then decided to major in music in college.  My academic background includes degrees in music education and flute performance.  I also enjoy voice, opera, and musical theater.

Although I will be blogging exclusively on this website during the course of this grant, I am also an independent blogger.  If you would like to know more about my past projects, you can read my own blog http://https://stpeteflute.wordpress.com/  Subjects I like to write about are flute technique and the St. Petersburg arts scene.  You can also follow me on social media: http://https://www.facebook.com/suzannecomposer/ where you can listen to samples of my work, or http://https://twitter.com/gcacoordinator and on Instagram as musicm8ker.

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