Saturday, December 31, 2011

The March of Time! 2011 in Review

2011 is now history. But what a lot of things happened this year!

JANUARY led off with my annual insult from ASCAP, the royalty collection agency. Each year I fill out an application for their ASCAPlus award, and have gotten it for the past 15 years. It’s their unspoken way of saying, “We didn’t track any of your airplay because you’re just not important enough, so we’ll throw you this bone.” I love these guys. Also, in January, I played a concert at Danby Federated Church, near Ithaca, and got reacquainted with my old friend Ed Enstine. And on the 9th of January, I turned 60.

FEBRUARY brought a lot snow and lesson cancellations. But I was making good progress on my choral song cycle “The Best of Times” based on writings of Charles Dickens.

In MARCH, the church choir was preparing for our Easter music. And it was in March that I made the first of 5 church visits as part of our music ministry outreach at UCC, First Congregational, Norwich. On top of that I played guitar in the pit band for “The Robber Bridegroom” at Morrisville College. What a blast to play that much bluegrass/old-timey music!

APRIL was the month that I finally heard my string quartet played, thanks to Deb Mineo-Devine and students. And I was working hard on completing my “Back in the Window” project. You can read details about that in the previous blog post. In MAY that album was released on Also in May I presented my 2-day blues seminar at Norwich High School for the Music in our Lives class.

In JUNE, I was contacted by the Greg Kunde Chorale asking permission to perform the world premiere of “The Best of Times in an October concert; more on that momentarily. Also in June, I submitted a new Christmas carol, co-written with Pastor Joe Connolly, to a contest. I generally avoid contests, but I took this as a challenge just to see if I could write such a piece. This June, my wife and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary.

In JULY, I treated myself to a new sound system. I went from 80 watts to 300 with my Yamaha Stagepass system. An amazing machine! Also in July, the CD “Journeys” was released. This is a collection of lovely songs that I wrote with my good friend, Douglas Rose.

AUGUST was really busy with performances. The UCC music department hosted Water from the Well II, with guest composer Joseph Martin. The Chenango River Theater presented 15 performances of “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” (music of Neil Sedaka), with me on guitar. The Earlville Opera House presented a fund raiser concert “A Summer Guitar Summit” in which I played the role of project director. And to top it all off, I played a noontime concert in the downtown park in Norwich for the BID.

SEPTEMBER was almost relaxing; although there was a goodly amount of guitar lessons as well as the church choir reforming after its summer break. Also, Scott Adams invited me to work on yet another Christmas album for the Logos Bookstore chain with him. We took my solo guitar project “Holy Night” and added some beautiful orchestration, with the help of superb cellist Chris White.

In OCTOBER, I played an art opening at the Chenango County of the Arts gallery. And the Greg Kunde Chorale did sing “The Best of Times” on October 30th at the St. Louis Church in Pittsford, NY. I was invited to give a pre-concert talk on the piece, and it was well-received.

NOVEMBER tends to be a quiet month, and outside of teaching and church music, I treated myself to two new Shure microphones: an SM57 and an SM58. Lovely.

Then DECEMBER brought yet another opportunity to play for the Chamber of Commerce Business-after-Hours at the local bank. That’s always fun. And then of course, the Christmas Eve music, which included the premiere performance of that Christmas carol I referred to earlier, “One Angel Sings.” It didn’t win the contest, but it worked perfectly in our service.

In all I wrote about 65 pieces of music this year, about half of which were recorded, and the other half were for choirs. The search for a workable online distribution for these pieces will be a definite focus for 2012, along with a new vocal CD to be released in late April.

Best wishes for everyone in 2012!