Soli fan tutti commission, nostalgia


“Nostalgia” by Jose Higuera











I’m looking forward to the premier of my trio Ascent on June 26 in Darmstadt, whose performance will be included in the sixth Soli fan tutti concert. Rehearsals will have begun at the beginning of June, and I will sit in on the last few. Performers are:

Wiltrud Veit – Piano
Makiko Sano – Violin
Michael Veit – Cello

As I understand it, Soli fan tutti is the name of chamber music program whose musicians are comprised of any subset of the Staatstheater Darmstadt’s orchestra.

This event is an interesting confluence of other past happenings. In 2011, my piano quintet Crowd Scene won a performance as part of the Soli fan tutti composition competition. I attended and was graciously hosted by Michael and Wiltrud Veit. It was a great time, with excursions also to Berlin and Munich. During my stay with the Veits, Michael recounted to me with great fondness his past residency at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada, encouraging me to apply.

I filed that information away in my mind, and three years later was accepted as a ten-week musician-in-residence at the Banff Centre, where I began composing Ascent in January 2014. The Banff Centre residency is an amazing story unto itself that I’ll forego here, only to add that I partially funded it with my first (and last?) Kickstarter. What’s interesting is the full-circle component, from Darmstadt to Banff and back to Darmstadt.

This commission was funded by the Association of Friends of the Staatstheater Darmstadt, for which I’m very grateful. Five years after my first visit, I get to see my old Darmstadt friends again, as well as make new ones, hopefully.  My German is non-existent. We can only communicate because most German people I meet speak English to a lesser or greater extent. In fact, most non-Americans I meet speak English. Oh, how I wish I were a polyglot!

Ascent traces a gradual emancipation from a quagmire of nostalgia. I wanted to explore the concept of nostalgia as a trap. In my own emotional life, I’ve often fiercely clung to the past—the “good old days”—much too tenaciously. In my experience, this can preclude growth of all sorts. It’s not that all nostalgia is negative, but only that some of us have a tendency to dwell there more than is healthy.


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