I finally finished The Tower last week. For a multiplicity of reasons, it was the most difficult piece I've written to date, but I think it's going to have been worth the effort come June 3rd.
After getting through the toughest section of the whole thing, I posted a little call-to-arms to Facebook, in the hopes that someday, when I'm in a similar predicament, I can go back and read this and fight my way back out of it.
Anyway, here it is:
That feeling you get when, after four eighteen-hour days of composing alone, in a cabin, missing your family, laying awake in creaky twin bed each night, unable to sleep because you’re convinced that this piece just isn’t working, that its form doesn’t make sense, its ideas are tired, its utterances trite and overcomplicated, that you’re going to have to call the ensemble in New York and the playwright in Boston and tell them that you tried as hard as you possibly could, but you just couldn’t figure it out, you couldn’t pull it together in time, and then you wake up on the last morning of your retreat and everything has crystallized, everything makes sense, everything was worth it all along, and now, having gotten to this point, the music flows as freely as water down the side of a mountain in spring?
That feeling is why I do this.
We go through a lot, us composers. Virtually none of us make a living at it, but we get up early before work, we stay up late on the weekends, we struggle with the limitations of our intellect, our ears, our instruments, our patience. We put hours upon hours of work into producing minutes of music: music that’ll be heard once, twice, maybe three times if we’re lucky, meaning there’s a good chance no one will catch all of the subtlety and nuance we strive for. The majority of the American public doesn’t even know that “classical” composers are still around, and, of those who do, only a fraction will ever make it to a new-music concert.
But moments like this one, this morning? They remind me why I compose. I drove three hours into the deep Vermont wilderness with nothing but a vague outline and a couple of sketches, and I drive back to Boston today with twenty minutes of music that no one on this planet has ever heard, music brought kicking and screaming into existence, music which, now that it exists, exists forever.
On June 3rd, at the Davis Square Theater in Somerville, this piece will leave my head and enter the world. Come hear the premiere of The Tower, a one-act musical-theatrical experiment on a play by Kevin Kordis, starring (and directed by) my wife, Micah, and performed by loadbang, at the final concert of THE FIFTH FLOOR COLLECTIVE's fourth season.
It’s a tough road we trod, but, when it works, goddamn does it feel good.
And here are some pictures of the beast coming together: