Anonymous yet personal, this Blog chronicles
the daily events and musings of Jim.
It provides an easy way for his friends and family to check in on him,
and serves as a online repository for his random
thoughts, kaleidoscopic flashbacks, and writings on an array of diverse topics.
“Deconstructing Jim” is simply here to
entertain you, but not intended for college credit.

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Chapel Hill, NC, United States

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Friday, December 22, 2017

New Year's Message

I'm a little early to the party, but I would like to wish everyone a great 2018. You deserve it.

This has been a challenging year for many of us - on many fronts. Yet on a personal level I have several important things to be grateful for; not the least of which is family, a roof over my head, and relatively good health given my age. This year has also been a productive one for composing. I'm happy with what I've written. It is work that seems to have merit.

Although it has been a while since my music has been performed in public, it seems that this predicament is the "new normal" for quite a lot of composers. Often years - even decades - can pass without a public realization of one's creative work.

Over the years I have slowly acquired immunity to the general indifference our culture has to new music. Some of us who take music seriously forge on regardless of the consequences. We don't do our work for practical, political, or economic reasons. We are compelled to write music because we have a basic need to express our innermost private ideas as dynamic, vibrant, sonic images. We strive to create from nothing, something that is new and original - something that both poses and attempts to answer probing questions about the nature of artistic expression.

Fortunately (after a lifetime of day jobs) I am in a place and phase of life where I am able to compose relatively unabated. I still have most of my marbles (or so I believe). I am also grateful for Social Security.

As for the practical side of the profession, I've done my due diligence over this past calendar year as well. I have mailed, emailed, and hand-delivered literally hundreds of scores to musical organizations all around the world. I'm not a natural self-promoter, but I do realize that music composition is a highly competitive field. Perhaps, if we throw enough seeds into the wind, one will ultimately take root somewhere, somehow.

This coming year I plan to spend more time composing and far less time applying for grants, fellowships, and residencies. I have seen too much of my time consumed by administrative efforts that routinely end with flat-out rejection. I've grown too old to continue banging my head against the proverbial brick wall in search of professional accolades or validation from academic circles or the commercial musical establishment. Besides, "competitions are for horses, not artists" as Bartók so famously said.

I'm not sure how long my current creative streak will last, but I'm continually dreaming of new ways to arrange sounds into interesting patterns that ignite the imagination.

Looking ahead to 2018, I have reason to be hopeful. My Piano Sonata (2014) may receive a premiere performance by a musician I greatly admire. There is also a possibility that the piece will be recorded and included on a CD along with five other works of my piano music. Stay tuned! This would be (if it happens) my first commercially available recording.

I'm looking toward the future with open ears, lots of hope, and a sharp pencil.



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