Hilltop Diary, July 30, 2022

I am very excited to share with you the new animated album cover art for my album coming out October 14. (I have updated this page with the finished version now.) Just push the “play” arrow button and be sure your sound is on to hear the opening bars of the symphony with it.


An animated version of my previous album cover (The Sea Knows) has also been done by the fantastic art department at Parma/ Navona Recordings. This is also now the finished version and has an excerpt from the title track playing. 


In other album news, on October 1 there will be a pre-release of a “single” from the album. In popular music, a single would of course be one of the songs on an album felt to be a possible radio hit. Singles used to be issued on those small 45 rpm vinyl discs. In my case, the single will be the second movement of the symphony, around ten minutes long, the most lush and romantic of the movements, and it will be on Spotify two weeks before the album, as an advance teaser. The people at the record company doing this understand the nuances of marketing far better than I, and they have their reasons and strategies for doing it. I’m just along for the ride.

As things keep gearing up toward the album release, our very first review of the album, as opposed to a preview article, now written by someone who has actually listened to the album, will appear in the September/ October 2022 issue of the academic journal St. Austin Review by the eminent musicologist and author Susan Treacy, but you may have to subscribe to the hard copy; I’ll let you know if it’s online.

My record company has also created a promotional page for the album, which will go online upon the release. It has links you can click on for the HD album cover, program notes about the music, biographies, and an audio sample of the music. I’ll post that link here and on my website when it goes online. There is already such a page for my last album, The Sea Knows, HERE.

ClockTo change subjects, I have always loved beautiful, old-fashioned clocks, the kind you must wind or pull on the chains to raise the weights, with pendulums (pendula?) or springs, tick-tock-ing away. Crystal and I have a real treasure in our rare, century-old German grandfather clock with its deep “bim-bam” (also called Normandy) chimes, shown to the left, which we found in an antique store. We also have a beloved cuckoo clock and mantle clock, neither electric, either. (That may be the first time I have ever used both “neither” and “either” in the same sentence.)

It occurred to me that my love of clocks must have something to do with being a composer, which is to say “a manipulator of the flow of time,” or perhaps a “sculptor of sound through time.” One of the things I love about purely instrumental music is how it can seem to make time stand still or make it seem to rush by. Either of those effects is magical to me. When I am composing I sometimes close my eyes and feel the flow of time across my face as what I’m writing plays in my mind, like the winds of time blowing past my cheeks. I quit listening to the music and try to listen closely to time itself. Time is a magic carpet you can ride through music, and music is a magic carpet you can ride through time. Yes, these have been an oddly random two paragraphs.

I’ve had a bit of a struggle getting the next piece of my ballet to go where I want it to go, but it’s finally coming along like a willful child. If you don’t put your foot down, it will go where it wants, instead of where you intended! And, like a real child, sometimes it does wear you down and finally win. In the case of this piece, it did win. Even so, I really love it and think it’s “a keeper,” but it turned out to be better suited for a very different number in the ballet story than the one I set out to write.  

Yesterday, the Center for the Arts in Murfreesboro, TN, one of our good musical theaters in the Nashville area (and they do some spoken plays), announced its next season, including my original show, Dear Miss Barrett, May 19-28, 2023. Please note that this show is not “new” and you will not be attending a “workshop.” It has been read twice at the National Arts Club in New York and extensively revised in consultation with NY theater directors and experts and members of the New York Browning Society for over seven years! However, this will be the most fully staged production so far, in terms of sets and costumes. Come enjoy the finished product! More info at www.dearmissbarrett.com.

Center of StateTo the best of my knowledge, so far, this will be the first performance in Tennessee of any of my music since being named “Composer Laureate of the State of Tennessee.” I hope it lives up to your expectations for that title. And what better place to do it than Murfreesboro, the exact geographic center of the state. They even have a monument on the exact spot (see photo, right)! Wishing you the best till next time.

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