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Community-based chamber ensembles: how to build a career that infuses performance with public service

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In order to cope with the decreasing availability of symphony jobs and collegiate faculty positions, many musicians are starting to pursue less traditional career paths. Also, to combat declining audiences, musicians are exploring ways to cultivate new and enthusiastic listeners

In order to cope with the decreasing availability of symphony jobs and collegiate faculty positions, many musicians are starting to pursue less traditional career paths. Also, to combat declining audiences, musicians are exploring ways to cultivate new and enthusiastic listeners through relevant and engaging performances. Due to these challenges, many community-based chamber music ensembles have been formed throughout the United States. These groups not only focus on performing classical music, but serve the needs of their communities as well. The problem, however, is that many musicians have not learned the business skills necessary to create these career opportunities. In this document I discuss the steps ensembles must take to develop sustainable careers. I first analyze how groups build a strong foundation through getting to know their communities and creating core values. I then discuss branding and marketing so ensembles can develop a public image and learn how to publicize themselves. This is followed by an investigation of how ensembles make and organize their money. I then examine the ways groups ensure long-lasting relationships with their communities and within the ensemble. I end by presenting three case studies of professional ensembles to show how groups create and maintain successful careers. Ensembles must develop entrepreneurship skills in addition to cultivating their artistry. These business concepts are crucial to the longevity of chamber groups. Through interviews of successful ensemble members and my own personal experiences in the Tetra String Quartet, I provide a guide for musicians to use when creating a community-based ensemble.

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2013

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Libby Larsen's Margaret songs: a musical portrait of Willa Cather's Margaret Elliot

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Libby Larsen is one of the most performed and acclaimed composers today. She is a spirited, compelling, and sensitive composer whose music enhances the poetry of America's most prominent authors. Notable among her works are song cycles for soprano based

Libby Larsen is one of the most performed and acclaimed composers today. She is a spirited, compelling, and sensitive composer whose music enhances the poetry of America's most prominent authors. Notable among her works are song cycles for soprano based on the poetry of female writers, among them novelist and poet Willa Cather (1873-1947). Larsen has produced two song cycles on works from Cather's substantial output of fiction: one based on Cather's short story, "Eric Hermannson's Soul," titled Margaret Songs: Three Songs from Willa Cather (1996); and later, My Antonia (2000), based on Cather's novel of the same title. In Margaret Songs, Cather's poetry and short stories--specifically the character of Margaret Elliot--combine with Larsen's unique compositional style to create a surprising collaboration. This study explores how Larsen in these songs delves into the emotional and psychological depths of Margaret's character, not fully formed by Cather. It is only through Larsen's music and Cather's poetry that Margaret's journey through self-discovery and love become fully realized. This song cycle is a glimpse through the eyes of two prominent female artists on the societal pressures placed upon Margaret's character, many of which still resonate with women in today's culture. This study examines the work Margaret Songs by discussing Willa Cather, her musical influences, and the conditions surrounding the writing of "Eric Hermannson's Soul." It looks also into Cather's influence on Libby Larsen and the commission leading to Margaret Songs. Finally, a description of the musical, dramatic, and textual content of the songs completes this interpretation of the interactions of Willa Cather, Libby Larsen, and the character of Margaret Elliot.

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2013

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Discovering Puerto Rican art song: a research project on four art song works by Héctor Campos Parsi

Description

Puerto Rico has produced many important composers who have contributed to the musical culture of the nation during the last 200 years. However, a considerable amount of their music has proven to be difficult to access and may contain numerous

Puerto Rico has produced many important composers who have contributed to the musical culture of the nation during the last 200 years. However, a considerable amount of their music has proven to be difficult to access and may contain numerous errors. This research project intends to contribute to the accessibility of such music and to encourage similar studies of Puerto Rican music. This study focuses on the music of Héctor Campos Parsi (1922-1998), one of the most prominent composers of the 20th century in Puerto Rico. After an overview of the historical background of music on the island and the biography of the composer, four works from his art song repertoire are given for detailed examination. A product of this study is the first corrected edition of his cycles Canciones de Cielo y Agua, Tres Poemas de Corretjer, Los Paréntesis, and the song Majestad Negra. These compositions date from 1947 to 1959, and reflect both the European and nationalistic writing styles of the composer during this time. Data for these corrections have been obtained from the composer's manuscripts, published and unpublished editions, and published recordings. The corrected scores are ready for publication and a compact disc of this repertoire, performed by soprano Melliangee Pérez and the author, has been recorded to bring to life these revisions. Despite the best intentions of the author, the various copyright issues have yet to be resolved. It is hoped that this document will provide the foundation for a resolution and that these important works will be available for public performance and study in the near future.

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2013

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The Fusion of Cantonese Music with Western Composition Techniques: Tunes from My Home Trio for Violin, Cello, and Piano by Chen Yi

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ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study is to analyze Tunes from My Home, a Trio for Violin, Cello, and Piano by Chinese-American composer Chen Yi (b. 1953), as well as to provide a performance guide from a collaborative pianist's perspective.

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study is to analyze Tunes from My Home, a Trio for Violin, Cello, and Piano by Chinese-American composer Chen Yi (b. 1953), as well as to provide a performance guide from a collaborative pianist's perspective. Of Cantonese origin herself, Chen Yi composed several works inspired by Cantonese music, including this trio. Chen Yi composed this trio between 2007 and 2008 and dedicated it to her long time friend pianist Pan Xun, who is also of Cantonese origin. Inspired by this shared Cantonese heritage, Chen Yi incorporated within this work three well-known Cantonese tunes, Cantonese instrumental techniques and sonorities, and elements of the shifan luogu, a wind and percussion ensemble often used in traditional Cantonese music. Coming from the same region as the composer, the author of this paper feels connected with this piece, and as a collaborative pianist, has the opportunity to introduce Cantonese music to a wider audience through the piano trio. Chapter one introduces the motivation for this study. Chapter two provides a brief biography of Chen Yi. Chapter three introduces the history, the scales, and the instruments of Cantonese music as well as other Cantonese influences on this trio, especially the three tunes. Chapter four includes a detailed analysis of each movement in terms of the form and application of the tunes and rhythms of Cantonese music. Chapter five shares the author’s experience of approaching and interpreting this piece in an appropriate style based on her Cantonese roots. The conclusion evaluates the significance of the fusion of Cantonese music with Western compositional techniques in this piece.

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2017