Living the dream

So, that was a busy couple of weeks.

On the day after my last post, Lucio gave us our first dramatic composition assignment: write a 90-second cue that follows the narrative and emotional contour of a scene, using specific instrumentation, based solely on a plot outline (not syncing to film yet). We were slated to record our cues with four musicians from the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía and the Palau de la Música — some of the best in the business — on the following Monday and Friday. I was not prepared to volunteer to be among the first to record, as I had two additional (short) pieces yet to compose that week (which prompted Lucio to tease me about how I had claimed I could write quickly; it’s true that I can, but I just couldn’t see past the two other projects I had ahead of me at the time). So, I was looking forward to having over a week to compose my cue and have it approved by Lucio with ample time for revisions, if need be.

Two days later, I was informed that everyone in my section would be recording on Monday.

As the shock of my deadline being bumped up by a full four days abated, and after dinner following our 4½-hour orchestration class — the latter half a concert featuring our tone poems written for the instrument(s)-of-the-week played by the phenomenal Alvaro Octavio of the Palau opera orchestra — I went home and very matter-of-factly wrote a minute of music to play for my supervisor the next day, because, in the words of Dr. Horrible, “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.”

After Lucio approved my draft of the first minute (see? Told you I could write quickly), I set to work completing the cue, preparing the Pro Tools session for the recording, and notating the score and parts over the weekend. After not enough sleep on Sunday night (that’s showbiz), I was up the next morning not preparing my parts, but dealing with a plumbing issue in my kitchen. I decided that I would bank that incident as getting the session’s bad luck out of the way, and looked forward to a smooth recording ahead. At the end of the morning recording session, around 1 p.m., I was on the podium, conducting for the first time on the Ann Kreis Scoring Stage, and you can see the session video here:

Being up on that podium to conduct my own music felt like a dream. While I was filled with trepidation coming here, with my biggest concerns being how my skills would rate relative to my classmates and fearing that I (and Berklee) had severely overestimated my actual abilities, that sense began to abate after our second orchestration class — the day on which I was informed of the much shorter deadline — in which we got to hear everyone else’s work for the first time. I am surrounded by brilliant musicians and incredibly talented individuals, and we inspire each other to always bring our best effort. I remain humbled to be among their number. It feels very much like the Olympics of music, and what a stadium we have here:

The Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía.

It wasn’t until I was basking in the afterglow of my successful recording session that I truly felt that I was exactly where I was meant to be, doing what I was meant to do. While I’m no stranger to the intense schedule and workflow required for these kinds of projects, it was getting to do it in this context, here at Berklee Valencia, that affirmed that this is what I love. I enjoyed the process from start to finish, crazy as it was, and I can’t wait for the next one.

In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I jumped at the opportunity to conduct another session — this time the work of another classmate — on the Friday afternoon, following my appointment at the police station for the next stage of my Spanish student residency process.

The rest of the week featured writing two additional compositions (another 8-bit tune for Video Game Scoring techniques and a tone poem for English horn for my orchestration class), and mixing the cue. The environment here is so inspiring that I’m finding myself writing (or at least sketching) new compositions in between my assignments. Last Wednesday, for example, quite literally in the time it took me to run up the stairs from the cantina at the Palau, my brain decided that we were going to sketch out a 2¼-minute orchestral theme instead of spending the time working on the tone poem for English horn that was due the next day. Can’t argue with that.

…and since my professors had done a very good job of ensuring that I had forgotten how to be lazy to such an extent that I couldn’t remember the last time I had a day off, I took one yesterday, opting to spend the afternoon eating paella and enjoying the beach with my schoolmates.

I’ll be working on a travelogue to better represent the chronological narrative of the past month, with pictures and everything. Look forward to it.

¡Hasta luego!

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