Last day of IMFA


This will (most likely) be the last post relating to IMFA and my adventures in Italy. It has been an exhilarating month in many ways, musically and otherwise. I’ve been fortunate to work with terrific colleagues and super student-musicians. I’ve seen a tremendous amount of growth in a short period of time, which gives me great pleasure and also hope for the futures of these young composers. Tonight we heard premieres by Neil (a short solo piano piece as well as a a work for violin and electronics), Evan (violin... Read The Rest →

Two world premieres

Stefano and Jacqueline

Another full day of rehearsals…and the first of our two final concerts at IMFA. Tonight, we heard premieres of works by myself (voice and electronics, using a line from Rilke’s First Elegy) and Jamie Leidwinger (for voice, viola, horn and piano, using a different excerpt from Rilke). I’m happy to report that both pieces went very well and were happily received by our audience! Tomorrow, we’ll hear new works by Neil, Ben and Evan, as well as two older works by Stefano (a string quartet movement and a short work... Read The Rest →



Today was a day of rehearsals. All four composers had hour-long rehearsals on their pieces, and all four will have an additional 30-40 minute rehearsal on the day of the concert. One of the hallmarks of summer music festivals, especially those involving composition, is that new works tend to feel under-rehearsed. We are working diligently to reverse that trend at IMFA! This afternoon, we were treated to an outing at the opera. Trieste has a wonderful opera house with a close association to Verdi–two of his early works were premiered... Read The Rest →

Mozart BBQ

Mozart BBQ

Today was our third and final visit to the Duino castle, where we performed a concert of chamber and vocal music, and, as a special surprise, the composition studio created a sound installation in the “grotta,” a strange, cave-like room on the ground floor of the castle. Following those musical adventures, we joined our friends at the Mozart society for the eponymous “Mozart BBQ,” a much-anticipated event in the festival. We were not disappointed! We were served a bevy of beverages and a mountain of meat, including a local sausage... Read The Rest →


Rovereto mountains

Bravi to Neil, Ben, Jamie and Evan for finishing their pieces by 8:30 this morning! After an otherwise slow morning, we all boarded three buses for a road trip to Rovereto, a beautiful city about 3.5 hours from Duino. We headed west towards Venice and then north, which took us through some beautiful mountain ranges, sprinkled with charming villages, each with its own castle (or so it seemed) and bell tower. Once in Rovereto, we arrived at the Mozart Society, one of 24 scattered throughout Italy (the IMFA is co-sponsored... Read The Rest →

Visitors to seminar


Today we welcomed two composition students from the conservatory in nearby Udine, Stefano and Andrea. This was a wonderful opportunity to share musical ideas and styles from very different perspectives. Today is crunch day…pieces are due tomorrow morning, ready to be copied and handed out to performers. So far, it looks like everyone will make the deadline! We all enjoyed a terrific concert tonight, performed by Monte, Spencer and Jessica. In addition to sonatas by Beethoven and Brahms, we heard the wonderful “Madrigals” by Bohuslav Martinu, a favorite work of... Read The Rest →



Caldissimo…that’s the word of the day–very hot. I’m spending as much time as possible in some of the cooler buildings on campus. The composers are all working hard to get their pieces in shape for our Friday morning deadline. As previously mentioned, I have been working on a project myself, “Among the Angels,” for voice and electronics. I’m using the first line of Rilke’s first Duino Elegy, in the original German as well as English and Italian translations. I’m using PureData (PD), an open source, interactive music program that I’ve... Read The Rest →

Flavor of the Day


Another working day at the composition program at IMFA. We have an initial deadline of Thursday to have our works sketched out, and a deadline of Friday morning for music to be handed out to performers. This is the challenge of a summer music festival–to work under tight deadlines and produce the best result possible. While the students have been working on their own projects, I have also been working on a new piece for Andy Whitfield, for voice and electronics. Taking a cue from the surroundings, I’ve been working... Read The Rest →

Beginning of the final week of IMFA

Mark and Nancy

High of 90 and 65% humidity–that’s the forecast for the week. In other words, it’s hot and sticky here. Fortunately, there is a nice breeze off the Adriatic, which helps cool the air, especially at night. This morning, we said goodbye to our friends Mark and Nancy Gruett, former members of the Deutsche Oper chorus. They’ve been IMFA groupies for the past week, attending concerts and classes and offering sessions for the students. It’s been wonderful to have them here and we all look forward to keeping in touch with... Read The Rest →



Although there is usually plenty of free time at IMFA, it feels especially good to take a day off today (at least, for the faculty!). I went to the beach this morning for a quick swim in the Adriatic, had a light breakfast, did some work on a composition project (more on this later), and then seven of us ventured into the rural area around Duino in search of the place to experience “osmice.” This is a tradition dating back to the days of Maria Theresa where local farmers can... Read The Rest →

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