Composer Institute Blog: Post No. 1

Composer Institute Blog: Post No. 1

On Sunday, January 24, seven rising-star composers will travel to Minneapolis to begin their participation in the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, where they’ll spend a week learning about the art and business of composing from inside an orchestra. After four days of sessions with musicians, music director, librarians, artistic staff and industry pros, they’ll each experience a thrilling moment: a performance of their music, led by Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra, before a cheering crowd at Orchestra Hall. Audiences will experience the full force of seven creative, distinct musical voices writing new music for today’s symphony orchestra.

Emily Cooley, one of this year’s featured composers, will be blogging throughout the week to provide a first-hand look at the many events of the Composer Institute. As workshops and rehearsals take place, Emily will share with us her insight, experiences and reflections. To follow along, visit Showcase online during and after the Composer Institute (January 25 to 29).

Looking ahead to next week, here is Emily’s first entry!

My name is Emily and I’ll be blogging about my experiences as one of seven composers at the 2016 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute. Thanks in advance for reading! I’m heading to Minneapolis today, and hoping this weekend’s east coast snow storm won’t delay my travel. Although I grew up in the Midwest, it’s been several years since I visited Minnesota specifically, so I’m looking forward to the trip.

First of all, I’m thrilled to be a participant in this year’s Institute. I’m currently an artist diploma student at the Curtis Institute of Music, and last year Osmo Vänskä was a guest conductor for the Curtis Symphony Orchestra. I’ll never forget hearing the orchestra rehearse and perform Lutoslawski’s Concerto for Orchestra under his baton. It’s such a difficult and dynamic piece, and I've never heard the orchestra sound better. The six other composers and I are so fortunate that we’ll get to hear our pieces conducted by Maestro Vänskä – so the aspect of the Institute I’m most excited for is orchestra rehearsals.

When I reflect on the orchestra pieces I’ve composed in the past few years, it feels like each one is wildly different from the last (although maybe my teachers or colleagues would disagree with that statement... I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the lack of objectivity we all have when viewing our own works). I suppose part of this variety is just for the sake of experimentation, for learning how the orchestra works. And part of it is that at this point in my life, I don’t feel I have one particular approach to composing, or even to orchestration. I’m particularly looking forward to our meetings with the orchestra musicians, because I know we’ll gain a lot of insight into the performer experience of reading new music.

I know a few of the other six composer fellows, but not all of I’m excited to meet the rest! To me it feels like the American composition community is pretty small, which is something I love. I’ve made many composer friends through summer programs, conferences, and professional opportunities, and I encounter the same people again and again. I’m sure this week will be no exception. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for my next update!

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Emily Cooley

Emily Cooley, one of this year’s featured composers at the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, will be blogging throughout the week to provide a first-hand look at the many events that comprise the Institute. »