I was incredibly fortunate to spend last week in Santa Cruz at the perennially prosperous, always extraordinary Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, as a Composer Fellow in their prestigious Conductors/Composers Workshop. With 3 composition fellows, 6 conducting fellows, 14 odd auditors and associates, and the incomparable Kristin Kuster, Cristian Măcelaru, and Octavio Más-Arocas as faculty, the workshop is a fruitful laboratory space for both current experiments and future collaborations. I so enjoyed the process of working with my two conductors, Toby Thatcher and Alvin Ho, who brought to our work together an amazing curiosity, energy, and attention to detail that truly benefited both the piece and all involved. Additionally, the orchestra is incredibly unique at Cabrillo. With all the musicians donating their time and talents, it’s clear that every single musician clearly cares deeply about hearing contemporary voices, crafting music brilliantly, and being true to the intentions of the composer. Their questions are clear, their demeanor kind, their feedback insightful, and their playing phenomenal! I feel so grateful for the encouragement and sincerity shown by their interaction with me. Authenticity can be hard to come by in this field; as Cristi is fond of saying (and I paraphrase), “only knowledge brings humility, because the more you know, the more you realize there is to learn”. I hope someday to achieve the wisdom and beneficence required to attain and promote such a mindset.
Photo credit: R.R. Jones