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    #PsalmQuest 10 – Mirror 2 for solo harp

    Writing this piece of music was probably one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve ever done. Perhaps that’s why it turned out to be a good one. The harp can be a daunting instrument: it is large yet delicate, piano-like but not a piano, strings plucked with four fingers per hand not hammers hit by five fingers. However, the learning process about harp technique was made considerably easier by Jacqueline Pollauf, who has kindly posted a list of guidelines online. But I must admit, I also cheated a little – I asked Anna Kate Mackle, Principal Harpist of the Florida Orchestra, for some input. Back in the mid 80s, Anna Kate…

  • Stephen P Brown Warrior Peace
    Articles

    New psalm composition #6: Warrior Peace

    Well, this was an unexpected mammoth! (If you are not aware of my current composition quest, click here to read the introduction.) I knew that composing for larger ensembles would take time, and was sort of risking things a little when I decided to write for a larger-than-normal ensemble but I didn’t plan for this piece to take a full month. Think of a chamber orchestra that plays Mozart and Haydn symphonies. Then take away all the string players. That’s what this composition is for! It’s not a standard combination of instruments, so I decided to call it a “Chamber Orchestra Non-Strings” ensemble. Says what it is, right?! The actual…

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    Nostalgic Chatty Conductors in Beautiful Penguin Suits

    Can you believe it’s already been a month since the last chat about orchestras on Twitter? It was another FABULOUS discussion amongst some passionate orchestra enthusiasts, and we’re on a role with three under our belt. #OrchChat was scheduled for one hour and this time people from around the world were prepped and keen to get started. I’m thrilled so many people participated and the conversations got so meaty we even added an additional topic! One piece of feedback was along the lines of having only one topic per chat. It’s certainly a good idea, but my thought is that these monthly Twitter chats should prompt and promote further discussion all…

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    Hot Topics for Orchestras

    (Percussionists: Get “Six by Six” for only $6 or £6 just this weekend, during the McCormick Marimba Festival!) The orchestra world (particularly in the USA) is currently rife with intrigue, politics, passionate zealots and somewhere in the midst… great music. Over the past few weeks there have been some interesting observations touching on the borders of three particular topics, and not being one for averting the unpopular or difficult, I shall name them right here, right now: Keep the penguins? Nostalgia. What makes music beautiful? There we have it. I’m serious. OK, so the titles themselves may not ring any bells with you, but let me explain: Penguins. As in,…

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    How is ‘beautiful’ music defined?

    This past week my wife asked me to compose something beautiful, preferably for the cello (as that’s her favourite instrument). I said “What do you mean?” “Not ‘intelligent’ or clever or busy, just something… beautiful.” “Meaning what, exactly?” “Oh, I don’t know. Like, a song that’s nice.” “Oh, OK!” I said. “I’m right on it!”   Er… can you help me?!   What do you think she means? Am I displaying an incredible amount of utter ignorance here? I thought some of my choral music is particularly beautiful (especially “Lucy’s Song” using a text by Charles Dickens), and if you’ve heard “A Mother’s Lament” I’m sure you’ll agree that can…