Final Battle in Chicago! January 2017!

fblpostcardUpdate: Tickets are now on sale!

You can also support this production through IndieGoGo until Dec. 11

It’s an amazing thing to have your opera performed. After Thompson Street Opera Company premiered Final Battle in Louisville this June, I felt like I’d been welcomed into an amazing Society of People Who’ve Had Operas Performed (SOPWHOP, or SWHOP if you’re in a hurry). If getting an opera premiered is jousting with windmills, getting that second performance is kind of the Holy Grail. And here it comes, barely 6 months from the premiere, Thompson Street (the company has relocated to Chicago) is producing it again. This time we’re going to have strings (a quartet) and drums, so we’re getting closer to the full orchestration, so there’s a lot to be excited about. If you’re in the Chicagoland area, you’ve gotta come to hear it!

Final Battle for Love in Louisville, June 3-5

June 3, 2016
8:00 pm
June 4, 2016
8:00 pm
June 5, 2016
2:00 pm

St. John Nulu Theater


So this is a big one. Final Battle for Love, one of the world’s finest baroque-metal professional wrestling operas, will receive its first full production June 3-5 by Thompson Street Opera (no relation) in Louisville. This will be a piano only version, but all the magnificent solo and chorus parts will be there in a fully staged production. As Neil Armstrong said, “One small step for man, one giant leap for professional wrestling opera.”

In a program titled “Not for the Faint of Heart,” the first half of the evening will consist of two mono-operas, A Cup of Tea by Yvonne Freckmann and The Tell Tale Heart  by Adam Levowitz. After the intermission it’s all #professionalwrestlingopera.

If you want learn more, check out my post about the history of Final Battle.

Boom II: Son of Boom

Wanted to be sure to share with you that I received a generous Artist Opportunity Grant from the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council to help with the mastering phase of the forthcoming album. Thanks, GPAC! And I’m happy to say that grant has been put to good use as the album is finshed! I’m extremely pleased with how everything sounds as is the production team at PARMA. I think you will be too. More to come soon!

Sing On! CD Released


OK, I’m really proud of this one. For two days in June I set up my recording rig in the sanctuary at Shadyside Presbyterian Church and the extraordinarily talented girls of Pittsburgh School for the Choral Art’s Concentio and Chamber Choirs gave hour after hour of amazing performances to make this recording a reality.

Order Sing On! now at the new PSCA Online store.


Recording Session with IonSound Project

I’m so far behind on my blogging, but only because of being so productive! Here’s a quick update (with pix) and look for more soon, because there’s much good news to share with you.

I spent September 22-23 at the spectacular Audible Images Studio with IonSound Project. By the time we were finished up, we had the whole album in the can. I’m in the process of editing and mixing and expect to deliver the audio to PARMA before Christmas. Once the PARMA mastering team has the audio, we’ll be able to set a release date. and I promise I’ll update you as soon as we have that.

Working with IonSound Project is always the best. They know my music inside and out and give such committed performances. As a creative artist, I just can’t put a price on this sort of long term collaboration.

Anyway, here are some shots from the session.

IonSound-Studio, 1

L-R: Elisa, Kathleen, Peggy, Laura, and Rob

IonSound studio-2

Listening to takes in the control room with Laura, Elisa, Kathleen, Peggy, and Jack.

Ryan working on the perfect drum sound.

Ryan working on the perfect drum sound.

The incomparable Hollis Greenhouse at the board.

The incomparable Hollis Greathouse at the board.


I’m very pleased to announce that I received an Individual Artist Grant through Investing in Professional Artists, a partnership of The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments. The $10,000 award is in support of the recording project I announced this fall in collaboration with IonSound Project and PARMA Recordings that will explore my visual arts-inspired chamber music. Of course, everyone involved in this complex project is thrilled and, in keeping with the whole “This may not be a pipe dream after all” theme, I’ve scheduled two days of studio time at Audible Images in September.

The large chunk of cash is definitely a huge step toward completing this recording and multimedia project, but I’m also extremely grateful for the professional recognition that comes from the rigorous application process. According to the official press release,

“…applications to the Investing in Professional Artists program were received from 161 individuals and organizations from 22 cities and towns across six counties in southwestern Pennsylvania. A peer review process with regional and national experts from a variety of artistic disciplines considered applications and recommended grants to 10 artists and three organizations based on work quality and the potential of the proposed project to advance an artist’s career. Grantees include established and emerging artists working in visual arts, multimedia, dance, music, theater and literature.”

So this is a big deal at many levels and without a doubt, a very significant milestone in my professional life. It’s encouraging that The Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation have partnered for this important program that recognizes the vitality of Pittsburgh’s arts scene. This is an exciting time to be an artist in Pittsburgh as the region’s identity as a center for innovation in technology and the arts seems to be both taking root and taking off. And the album we are planning embodies this moment in many ways. In fact, one of the things I find most exciting about the planned program is how the different pieces emerged organically from a vibrant creative community.

And speaking of the album, we still have a lot of money to raise in order to get the project over the finish line. Happily, you can continue to make tax deductible donations through my Fractured Atlas project page. Every little bit helps us get closer to reaching our artistic goals, so please consider making a donation, and thanks in advance.

My New Recording Project!

IonSound Project

A studio recording with these guys? Yes, please!

I am very pleased to announce my newest assault on the bulwark of moderate success! I’m partnering with IonSound Project and PARMA Recordings to release a CD and super-special Web content highlighting my collaborations with film and visual artists Will Zavala, Ryan Day, Garth Zeglin, and Michael Morrill. I’ve created a new Web page to explain this in all its glorious detail. Please read all about it, tell your friends, and support the project with a deliciously tax deductible donation through Fractured Atlas.

At this point we’re hoping to record in late July, mostly due to the schedules of all the players. In the mean time, my creative work will be focused on finding creative ways to raise funds for the project. Unless of course, someone comes along with a big, juicy commission that would cover the costs. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Speaking of which, as I was researching funding sources for alt-classical music recording I came across this 2009 article in New Music Box about the economics of the business. This bit was particularly eye-opening.

Yet scraping together the money to produce each new title and more often than not looking to the artists to help with that process—whether from family wealth, university research grants, or credit card debt—is standard operating procedure at almost every independent contemporary music label.

Seems like there’s no one offering a four-record deal based on that hot new Pierrot plus percussion piece, so I’ve got my work cut out for me to be sure, but all of us as independent composers have a tough road. If you want to write music that you really, really believe in, well now… But I’ve always felt my music could find an audience with the right exposure and this new recording project is a big step in that direction. Check in often to find about the progress we’re making, and if you find it in your heart and your heart finds it in your wallet, I’d appreciate it if you lent a hand.

A Celebration of Galileo’s 450th Birthday, Premiere of Nocturnes

February 15, 2014
3:00 pm

 Frick Fine Arts Auditorium, Free


University of Pittsburgh Departments of Music and Studio Arts and the University Art Gallery have organized a commemoration of Galileo’s 450th birthday. The interdisciplinary event will take place from 3-5 p.m. in the Rotunda of the University Art Gallery.

The centerpiece of the event will be an interdisciplinary installation I’ve had the privilege of collaborating on with Pitt Studio Arts faculty members Michael Morrill and Aaron Henderson. The installation is built around Michael’s Linea Terminale paintings, themselves inspired by Galileo’s moon drawings. Aaron’s video and my brand new composition for string trio were created as a response both to Linea Terminale and the broader idea of celebrating Galileo’s life and scientific contributions.

Linea Terminale consists of twelve paintings in four groups of three. I structured my music along the same lines — four sets of three miniatures, averaging around a minute each. About the time I was finishing up the twelfth section, it occurred to me that the common character of all the movements was that of a nocturne so that’s what I’ve titled it: Nocturnes. I realized that the whole time I was composing the piece, the image of Galileo peering through his telescope at the moon was in the back of my mind. It makes sense because night time is still the best time to observe the moon.


Special guest Paolo Palmieri, from Pitt’s Department of History and Philosophy of Science, will give a brief talk on Galileo and his contributions prior to the performance.

This interdisciplinary celebration of Galileo’s 450th birthday is cosponsored by the Departments of Studio Arts and Music, the University Art Gallery, and the Departments of History and Philosophy of Science, Physics, and Astronomy and Philosophy. The event is free and open to the public.

Watch: Video Excerpt from Separate Self, Movement III

Separate Self (Movement III excerpt) from Garth Zeglin on Vimeo.

Here’s a little longer video excerpt from the third movement of Separate Self. It will give you an idea of just how elegant Garth Zeglin’s kinetic fabric sculptures are in action.

I like to think of the essence of counterpoint as multiple parts having their own interest and yet never banging into each other. In the third movement of Separate Self, I took very clearly defined materials and worked on having the lines constantly shift in their relationships to each other. The end result is a soundscape that has a high degree of both stability and fluidity. I’m really happy about how the musical and visual gestures work together for this movement.