I have been thinking recently about my multiple residencies (8 to be exact!) at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts (VCCA). They have always been amazing oases of creativity and inspiration. During my very first visit, I had one month and my goal was to compose a piece for solo viola, string quartet and piano. The commissioner, the late violist Rosemary Glyde, was a dear friend and outstanding violist whom I had met at the Aspen Music Festival and later at Juilliard. From the moment I reached my studio, and the outside cares fell away, I started right in on what came to be called Glyph. I composed one movement a week for four weeks, and Rosemary premiered it in New York’s Merkin Hall with the Manhattan String Quartet and pianist Norman Carey. She later performed it at the International Viola Congress in Boston, and on many other occasions. It was also featured on a contemporary concert by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, with Paul Neubauer as soloist and Anne Marie McDermott as pianist. And, it has been released on my new CD Time To Burn on the Innova label, with violist James Dunham, the Cassatt String Quartet and pianist Margaret Kampmeier. He later reprised it at the Aspen Music Festival.
Each residency resulted in a new piece, and each began with the wonderful falling away of cares, and the start of new friendships.
I have met poets, composers and artists, some of whom I have had ongoing collaborations. One of the most striking examples was when I overlapped with poet Barbara Goldberg for a mere three days. We have collaborated on numerous projects: I set her hilarious cycle Marvelous Pursuits for vocal quartet and piano four-hands; she wrote the poetry for my Singing the Blue Ridge, for mezzo, baritone, orchestra and electronics made from the calls of indigenous wild animals; she collaborated on the texts, drawn from Thomas Jefferson’s letters for my Jefferson in His Own Words, for narrator and orchestra. On other fronts, I am currently collaborating with artist Sohyun Bae, and am still in frequent touch with Ruth Fields, Andra Samelson, Katerina Wong, and a number of others. The resonance of these residencies goes beyond the sounds created to rich experiences that I will always treasure.