Hilltop Diary, March 21, 2022

After a sudden change of plans, which often seems to happen in the arts just to keep us a little crazy, my symphony recording project was switched to another orchestra. Question: What happens when you take top professional symphony players from a dozen Eastern European symphony orchestras and gather them into the state-of-the-art Bulgarian National Radio Studio 1 in Sofia for the sole purpose of recording classical, film, and TV music? Answer: You get the European Recording Orchestra (ERO)! They will record my symphony on May 14.

The conductor I was originally planning to work with here in Nashville, Oxford-and-Royal-College-of-Music-trained maestro Robin Fountain, had really studied the score and thus will remain with the project and go to Sofia, too. He has conducted my music before, including my first symphony in Tomsk, Siberia (yes, there are orchestras in Siberia, not only snow) and the title composition on my last album “The Sea Knows.”

In addition to this huge orchestra, including eight – count ‘em – eight noble and heroic French horns  instead of the usual four (upper left in photo below), a Steinway grand,  a great production team, a state-of-the-art ProTools engineering booth, and a whole flock of fabulous German Neumann microphones hovering over. God willing, I’ll be hovering over there too as producer on May 14th. Then it’s on to the Parma Recording studios in New Hampshire for the editing, mixing, and mastering.  Watch this space for album release news in a few months. What I’d like to add is that I posted on Facebook last week that a European orchestra would record the piece, and the number of responses and kind comments really, really touched my heart.


For her part of team Kurek, my lovely Crystal continues rehearsing the lead role of Rosalind in Shakespeare’s As You Like It, mentioned here last time. She is now also slated to play Rapunzel in Sondheim’s Into the Woods in the fall with a fun cast of friends with whom she has worked in other shows at various theaters. Congratulations to all! Watch here for details on both shows. My favorite line in As You Like It, spoken by the character Jacques, is: “I can suck melancholy from a song as a weasel sucks eggs.”

On that note, as you may know, I have recently dipped my toe into theatrical waters by composing and writing, at Crystal’s request, my one show, Dear Miss Barrett, and I’m happy to tell you that the Center for the Arts, a fine theater in Murfreesboro, hopes to do a production of it at the end of next season! Watch for it on their website HERE when they finalize and announce their upcoming season. (I have their permission to tell you this one item now, though.)

Since I last wrote, I’ve had the joyous pleasure of receiving my FIFTH rejection of my fiction fantasy novel! It’s getting to be pretty entertaining to read the reasons why! Only one hated the book (and said so rather bluntly), but the rest have said they really like the book but have some practical reason, like being backed up with too many accepted books now. So, I guess I’ll just keep on popping up like the publishers’ whack-a-mole. But it would help to have one of those elusive creatures called a literary agent, and don’t yet. Please check back here for the delight of further rejections!  

On Saturday, March 19, I was privileged to record my Latin Ave Maria for women’s choir, harp, and organ with the Vanderbilt Chorale to go on the new CD with my symphony, and it will be on the CD just after my choral Missa Brevis that they recorded prior to the Covid outbreak. Thanks to their conductor, Tucker Biddlecombe, they sounded like a perfectly coordinated angel choir. And we had a wonderful professional harpist and organist playing with them, and a great recording engineer in the booth, with me serving as producer.

Earlier that same day and the day before, a film crew for a not-yet-released documentary series on sacred music called “The Vigil Project” was in town from the New Orleans area to do an interview with me and to get some “B-roll” of the St. Joseph Church Choir, who very kindly gave their time to demonstrate a rehearsal of my Missa Brevis. (The score, if any choir directors out there want to buy it, is about to be published by the new publisher CIR Music.) I am very grateful to everyone involved; we had fun and a nice Mexican lunch afterwards. The day before, the film crew came to the house to do an interview with me, complete with my cat climbing on me throughout. Nothing makes you clean house like knowing it will appear in someone’s documentary film!  

Spring seems to be taking its time this year! Maybe I can get some gardening in by the next time I write.  

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One comment

  1. Ellie Smith · · Reply

    Hi Mr. Kurek, we recently had the joy of seeing three of our adult candidates receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. As a gift, we gave them your book The Sound of Beauty. Thank you for writing this wonderful, inspiring and uplifting book. You might not have had any success with your fiction fantasy novel yet, but I’m grateful that The Sound of Beauty was published!


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