Tomorrow is my final day of immersion in the world of music-theater at New Dramatists, a New York institution that offers many practical resources to emerging playwrights. 2015 marks the thirtieth year that New Dramatists has offered a Composer-Librettist Studio (CLS), an intense two-week workshop where five selected composers work with five ND playwrights to create a total of 25 new music-theater works. CLS’ artistic director is Ben Krywosz of Nautilus Music Theater; Pulitzer-prize nominated composer Roger Ames is our fearless music director.
As one of this year’s five selected composers, I composed a new piece every two days in collaboration with a different playwright for each assignment (two days ago, I set an on-the-box recipe for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese as part of a scene about a customer service worker who breaks out from her corporate-imposed protocol. Hilariously fun). It has been an amazing (and exhausting!) experience. As someone who has never really collaborated with a writer before, I found that the process of creating music and text has been unique to each pairing. It has been a gift to not be composing solo- to instead be working closely with writers who have vested interest in how their words sound and create different emotional trajectories in tandem with music.
All of my years of setting text- much of it in the context of sacred music- has served me extremely well in this new dimension of collaborating with playwrights. I am excited to see where this new world of music-theater might lead. (Note: if you are in NYC on Fri, Feb 13, there is a free open-to-the-public final read-through of all 25 new works from 1:30-4 pm at New Dramatists, 424 West 44th St. Call 212-757-6960 to be placed on the wait list).
Speaking of sacred music, this Sunday is my last day as interim minister of music at Park Avenue Christian Church, on the upper east side of New York. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had at the Park to compose and share new choral and congregational music and look forward to spreading this music far and wide this year and in the years to come. (Note: if you are in NYC on Sun, Feb 15, come say hello at the 11 am service. We’ll be doing my baião version of “How Firm a Foundation,” among my other hymn arrangements and originals. PACC, 1010 Park Ave at 85th St).