How do you weight your roles of composer and pianist?

August 15th, 2008 FAQs

Composition is the highest priority, but the piano has been central in my development.  Being able to perform as a soloist and in collaboration with others laid a groundwork of trust that led to important first commissions.  When in residence as as a composer at, for instance, the Grand Teton Festival or the ACF Pacific Symphony festival, I’m there also in the dual role of performer.  Maintaining a performance schedule keeps me in touch with repertoire old and new in a concrete way.  I like very much introducing works of fellow composers, consulting with them on the interpretation of their music, experimenting with different possibilities of sonority, texturing, extended techniques and in some cases improvisation.  I also need to stay connected with the standard repertoire – recently I did a recital with my oboist friend Jonathan Blumenfeld of the Philadelphia Orchestra — just Bach, Schumann and Hindemith — and not that long ago did the Beethoven Choral Fantasy.  It takes much discipline and time management to keep it going along with composing, but I never want to let go of this kind of actual “music making.”