This month: Why Arranging?
Generally speaking, musical arrangements are adaptations of existing musical works -- a transcription from one instrument or ensemble to another, an orchestration of material for larger forces, or a reduction of a large ensemble work for smaller forces. Though I have always done arrangements of many kinds, I have taken a greater interest in arranging in the last couple of years. There are many reasons for this -- beyond the fact that I simply enjoy it! -- but the most compelling is that arranging is a safe place to explore, learn, and create opportunities.
A lesson book.
A coloring book.
A foot in the door.
For example, I arranged Gesualdo's madrigal Resta di darmi noia for The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra with Conrad Tao. I was in the right place at the right time to put my ideas out there and it has now led to opportunities for a new strings only version with Oregon Symphony to be premiered in Spring 2024. This also has led to other arranging projects at The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, such as a reduction of Lili Boulanger's D'un matin de printemps for chamber orchestra, an arrangement of Beethoven's "Heiliger dankgesang," and several arrangements of works by Abel Selaocoe. Of course, I would love to have my original works premiered someday, but I am also content in arranging other fantastic works in collaboration with a phenomenal orchestra. There is great value in this!
All you can do is make the most of the opportunities at hand in hopes that they lead to other opportunities down the road. Those doors are starting to open for me more through arrangements than original works, so that's where I'm going to keep applying myself.
Holding the door open.
Some exciting projects include arrangements of piano works by Cecile Chaminade and Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel, two phenomenal women composers that had limited opportunity to write for orchestra but whose piano music is ripe for orchestration. My version of Fanny Mendelssohn's "Das Jahr" also includes parts for singers and chorus to highlight its oratorio-length proportions and gesamstkunstwerk tendencies. (It truly is a masterpiece! I've learned so much from dedicating myself to her music!)
If you are interested in any of these arrangements -- or know a conductor or ensemble that might be interested in them! -- please reach out and let me know! Some are completed and others in-progress but I'd love the opportunity to have them performed!