Solo shows are not really solo shows. Anyone who has done one knows that. They are a tremendous collaboration of people who believe in you and help shape the vision or execution of your performance. Many of them are mentioned in my earlier blog entries. But it is especially those people who are with you when your ideas are fleeting, and you haven't really settled into them, who go out of their way to say I support what you're doing unconditionally, and I'm going to go out of my way for you to help.... Repeatedly... on every major creative project... who accelerate and inspire your game... with their expertise, with the intangibles... and so unassumingly... Kim, Sarah, Stewart, Rumi, Jenice and especially, Matt Peterson, thank you.
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A week after the March recital, I bumped into my piano teacher, Heewon, at Colburn and excitedly told her of my grand plans for my next performance. She said no. I wanted to actually play the Rachmaninov "Rhapsody on a Theme" and learn Gershwin's "Concerto in F". She asked why. And as I went into my reasoning, she stopped listening.
She suggested I pick up a Mozart and a Bach and continue to develop the playing technique that had suffered from the many years of not properly practicing. She was also concerned that debuting two huge pieces I hadn't performed before might not be the best scenario.
Several weeks later, Heewon called me to her studio for a meeting with the Music Director of the Los Angeles Dream Orchestra, Daniel Suk. The newly formed orchestra was engaged in performances in Orange County and Los Angeles and was about to make its debut at Walt Disney Concert Hall. The problem with my selection of pieces, according to Heewon, was they needed to be performed with orchestra, and I should still consider playing only one new piece. Heewon instructed me to engage the LA Dream Orchestra, and Daniel Suk assured me we'd make it work. He also told me to find a bigger theatre, hence the move to the Aratani Japan American Theatre.
Super excited for the opportunity to play with an orchestra again, for the next three months, I set out diligently learning the Gershwin "Concerto in F" and working more on the Rachmaninov... not touching a Mozart or a Bach.
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I give my parents lots of credit. When I dropped my piano performance scholarship and continued with general education at UCLA, for which they were now paying, I then told them I wanted to concurrently take film scoring through UCLA Extension, and they'd have to write a check for that too. Oddly, they did.
The classes included an intro seminar by the late Don B. Ray, composer for the original "Hawaii Five-O"... who taught us that writing music for film and television was not about composing, but about creating an emotion (and lots of stories about Jack Lord). There was also a scoring and conducting class... where we learned most studio musicians just play to the click track and aren't paying attention to you on the podium, especially if you're green. And an orchestration class where we scored different B-movie and bad TV cues, using every combination of instruments. But seriously, at a certain point, who cares about how your cue for "Beach Ninjas" written for five saxophones comes out.
Our sophomore year of college, prior to getting into film school, my friends, including Matt, and I made short film called "The Norwood Homicide". Can't really tell you what it's about, although I wrote the script. The best part of this project, however, was the original score for 13-piece orchestra. My roommate, Stephanie McNab, somehow bribed all the musicians, mostly peers from around the UCLA music school. And with aforementioned sound guru, Matt; my ensemble coach, Karen Lundgren and Heewon in the booth... the recording of the first cue was a complete disaster... largely because you are so nervous about what people you know are going to think about your music, you lose all personality and graciousness. I got talked to at the break... stepped back up, apologized, cracked a couple dumb jokes, and honestly, this became the highlight of my film scoring career. Although I did continue to compose music for film projects when I actually got into film school and sometimes as a corporate video editor, those were all predominantly sequenced on a keyboard. The Norwood score got buried in the drawer somewhere - because while the music was successful, the movie itself was not.
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Somewhere along the way, I was having a casual conversation about practicing the Rach and Gershwin, and one of the bosses at work made an off-handed crack about how Gershwin just didn't compare. For the first time, I considered dropping the Gershwin off the program. It's odd how when your piano teacher whose opinion should matter the most tells you to reconsider your repertoire, you ignore her. (Although this had been pretty much the routine since I was thirteen with Heewon.) And when some random person, who you respect, but doesn't affect your day-to-day efforts in music, makes a small comment, it makes all the difference in the world.
Right about this time, my sister and I took my nephew, Kai, to the Pixar concert at the Hollywood Bowl which had the hugest impact on me. Short suites of music from every single Pixar film set to picture - especially those by Michael Giacchino, inspired every bit of creative compositional energy. Suddenly, I found myself buying soundtracks off iTunes and studying the orchestrations like crazy. And it hit me: the concert with the LA Dream Orchestra was a great opportunity to showcase original works as well. This could either turn out really amazing or a complete failure, but either way, it will be a fun challenge.
So here was my pitch to Heewon. I would play only the Rachmaninov "Rhapsody on a Theme" (for real this time, until I pick something else to replace it with at the last minute) and do the Liszt "Totentanz" again, which will be a completely different experience with orchestra for repeat audience members. And there will be some complement of original works on the program.... Including a suite from "Norwood" reorchestrated for the entire LA Dream Orchestra. (I was actually amazed that we only lost one page of the original pencil written conductor's score which had been used as a prop in "A Concerto for Claire" and was repeatedly flung out into the audience at every rehearsal and performance.)
And then it turned 2013 - and the countdown is on toward Saturday, September 28, 2013. Thank you, everyone, for your continued interest and support!!!