Eric Whitacre

10 Nov

Famed composer and conductor Eric Whitacre just came to St. Petersburg where he gave a series of concerts with the Tampa Bay Master Chorale and the Florida Orchestra.  I have been familiar with his music since college and was very excited for this event.  He gave a choral workshop at the Mahaffey.

Whitacre’s music is deceptively simple.  While he is not afraid of dissonance, he writes with choirs in mind, which means his music is accessible for student and amateur singers.  He conducted us in rehearsal, and I enjoyed getting to see his personality as well as his music.  He told stories about the composition process and was charismatic and encouraging to us as singers.  The chorale sang “Lux Arumque,” a piece I have sung with them several times.

His choral pieces, “Seal Lullaby,” and “Sleep,” are tonal and expressive.  It was both tender and uplifting.  Worth noting, there is also a wind band arrangement of Sleep, and also the original piece, October, of which I played a solo in a concert recently.

It is great to be able to work with Eric not only as a contemporary composer but as someone who is a choral expert and dedicated to working with choruses.  I hope one day that I will be able to compose music that inspires and engages singers as his does.

Spaces I’d Like To Keep

6 Jun

Like I often do, I was compiling a list in my mind of my favorite indoor spaces.  Places that have particular meaning for me where I can close my eyes and visit any time I want, just as if they were right next to each other.

One is my high school band room.  It also served as the choir room.  Every day, we would meet together and make music for an hour or so.   It’s where I learned some of life’s most important lessons, and experienced some of the world’s great music for the first time.  I have played in many bands and made music in many spaces, but this room tops the list for me because it was a formative place for me, (as any band kid knows).

I would also like to include the house where I grew up, especially my bedroom and the swimming pool in my backyard.  Even after my parents sold the house, I still think about it often and sometimes dream about it.

The other space that tops the list for me is my church in Tallahassee.  I attended St. Thomas More while I was an undergraduate music student at Florida State.  This morning I was crestfallen to learn that this church, this space, was attacked by arson.  I felt compelled to write about this for several reasons.  One is that this church, along with the adjoining buildings, holds countless memories for me.  I was an active participant in the Catholic Student Union, where I made friendships that last to this day.   Second is spiritual and artistic inspiration.  I sang in the choir many times at the Sunday night services.  I was even inspired to write a band piece called “Tenebrae,” that describes the darkening of the church on Good Friday and the light’s return on the Easter vigil, one of many memories of happier times at this cathedral.

As fate would have it, I recently finished the piece.  While writing it, I was still reeling from the devastation of Notre Dame in France.  I included in this piece references to a 13th century motet about fire.  It was a meditation for me upon the importance of fire, an element that gives life, but also devastates.

In a performance workshop, we were told to meditate by closing our eyes and imagining ourselves in a safe place, where we are comfortable, as a way of escaping stress and feeling calm.  Today, another one of my spaces has been taken away.  But even though I am feeling sad, I remind myself that, just as the light returns from the darkness, we will rebuild and repair our community.

#myheartisbroken #allthefeels #tallahasseestrong



To the Hive Mind

9 Apr

A lot has happened since my last blog…Survived my composer’s chamber music exhibition AKA the Shakespearean tragedy entitled, “The Shit Hitteth the Fan.”  I got a job as a music teacher and so am chronically exhausted.  I have not stopped my practicing and rehearsal commitments.  However, it is spring and lately have been thinking about my future goals.  I am looking for a different placement.

It’s not easy to know the next step.  So, if you are the praying kind, I would really appreciate something alongside this:

Dear Universe,

I’m not sure if staying in my current situation will give me the things I need in life.  Please send me people to make connections, open doors, and guide me along the next step.  Things I am hoping for:  career advice, playing opportunities, and personal fulfillment.

Thank you



Today I am not afraid…

30 Mar

Today I am not afraid

To dig deeper…

To practice those things which need practicing…

To spend more time on the difficult passages…

I give myself permission

To practice until it is smooth…

To go as slowly as necessary…

To start over…

To correct my mistakes…

To read ahead so I don’t make any…

I give myself permission…

To fail, but ultimately to succeed

I can look more deeply at the work that needs to be done…

I can face the problems that I have, knowing that I can fix them

I am willing to make an investment in myself and my time

Believing that failure can make me nervous most days, but not today.

Because today, I am not afraid.



choosing a teacher

27 Mar

One of the most important things about being a flutist, indeed about being a musician, is the ability to choose for ourselves the person from whom we will learn.  When seeking a teacher, the person in question must be a person we would have guide us, not only in music, but in life.  So, this is not a decision to be taken lightly.

After one has researched the background and education of the teacher, the next step, perhaps the most important, is to see how they teach in person.  And, fair warning, no matter the playing ability or reputation, the experience of learning can be a negative one.  Perhaps the teacher is a poor instructor.  Or perhaps the teacher may not be a good fit for you.  It is important to get to know the personality and teaching methods of the person with whom you wish to study.  Are they approachable?  Are they knowledgeable about techniques?  When using a “tough love” approach, does it motivate you personally or does it tear you down?  Most importantly, are they willing to share their knowledge?   Too often even good players are not good communicators.  Remember, you are there to learn, but you are also responsible for getting what you need out of a lesson.  If you can’t, then it is time to move on.

Music is a lifelong journey.  A good teacher can guide us along our journey.  But, in the end, we must choose the people we let into our lives as those who share our values and help us to become the best version of ourselves.  The private teacher relationship is important and not to be taken for granted.  When that relationship becomes negative, it can be detrimental to our performance, instead of beneficial, like barnacles on a boat.  I recently had an experience like this.  At times like this, I find it necessary to scrape off the barnacles, cut ties and let go.

Not that I am any less dedicated to my music or my instrument.  Quite the opposite.  I care too much.  I care too much about myself and my music to let it be damaged by someone else’s rude behavior.  I am doubling up on my practice time, I am more motivated than ever, and I am determined to improve.

Am I still seeking a teacher?  Maybe.  I am open to the universe.  But I am going to be careful to find what’s right for me, and not let others decide for me.




Klughart Woodwind Quintet

6 Nov



28 Sep

You can now follow me as musicm8ker on Instagram.