April 29, 2018

I've been thinking about doing newsletter-style updates every full moon.  Here's the first one!

The biggest thing to happen to me recently was receiving a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative grant back in November, and that grant determined most of what I'm working on at the moment.  The overall project is writing new music for four ensembles across Minnesota, including elementary school students, an older adults choir, an instrumental trio, and a community band.

The first ensemble I'm working with is Holdingford Elementary.  Mandy and I went into all of Maia Hamann's K-5 classes in March to work on improvisation and create and perform graphic scores together, and I tried out some sections of the new piece I wrote for the third grade class.  It's a choir and piano piece called Blocks, and sets Robert Louis Stevenson's poem Block City.  It's especially fun because percussion instruments and recorders build up in the piece in layers, I think they're having a good time with it.   

The second ensemble is the Sabathani Vintage Voices, an older adults choir in Minneapolis directed by Rob Graham.  I set Rain Music, by Joseph S. Cotter, Jr

The poem made me think of people in my life who are triumphing over things, and moving through different cycles of renewal.  I've been in to work with the ensemble a couple times, and it's been really nice to talk about the piece with them and meet with a few of them after rehearsal.

The third group is the Accidental Ensemble in Ely, a violin, clarinet and flute trio.  I was able to visit them at the beginning of April and read through some fragments and ideas with them, here's one.  The music I'm writing for this ensemble serendipitously became intertwined with a large scale dance production being put together by Molly Olson, so now the music will be accompanied by choreography as one section of a larger work exploring cycles of water, nature, and life.  Mandy came along with me to Ely and we took the opportunity to make it a little vacation!  We also stopped by Jay Cooke State Park on the way back which is super pretty.  

The fourth collaboration will take place from June to October with the Lakes Area Community Band.  I got connected with this ensemble when they played my piece That Which Awaits the Dawn at the BandWidth Community Band Festival in 2016.  I've written for wind ensemble a few times, and I'm really excited to build up a new piece with them through this grant!   

Here's the official wording on the grant:

Michael is a fiscal year 2018 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.  This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Separate from that grant, I'm wrapping up a commission for Bella Voce, a women's choir at Osseo Senior High School directed by Maggie Sabin.  I'm setting Mi Corazón Se Ha Dormido by Antonio Machado.  The choir students also wrote some of their own text to go along with the Machado's poem.  Accompanying the women's choir will be a quintet of band students!  I've worked with the choir a few times, they're all very engaged and thoughtful students.  Should be a really cool performance!

Last thoughts: Mandy and I got a loop pedal a few years ago, and I've been using it more as I'm learning bass guitar, so I thought it would be fun to make little 15-30 second compositions for short videos I take on my phone.  I'll be posting them every Monday on my Facebook musician page @michaelmaioranamusic.  I've embedded the first couple here!  Three of them are from a single trip to Lake Huron, but they won't all be videos of waves going forward.  I think the videos are muted by default, so you'll need to unmute them.  

May 3, 7pm


Concordia College

Moorhead, MN

Monadnock in Early Spring

May 10, 6pm

3rd Grade Class

Holdingford Elementary

Holdingford, MN


May 10, 7pm

Fugett Chorale

J.R. Fugett Middle School

West Chester, PA

I Hear its Engine Steaming

May 21, 7pm

Bella Voce

Osseo Senior High School

Osseo, MN

Is My Heart Asleep?

May 24, 6pm

Vintage Voices

Sabathani Community Center

Minneapolis, MN

Rain Music

June 3, 3:30pm

Aliro Voices

Immanuel Lutheran Church

Saint Paul, MN

Poem of the Air

June 4, 7:30pm

Nautilus Music Theater

Saint Paul, MN

reading of new works

June 5, 7:30pm

Location TBD

Saint Paul, MN

reading of new works

July 6, 7:30pm

City Chorus

St Pancras Parish Church

London, England

I Hear its Engine Steaming

August 3, 4

The Accidental Ensemble

Vermillion Community College

Ely, MN

Streams, Rivers, Lakes

Fall TBD

Vintage Voices

Trillium Woods

Plymouth, MN

Rain Music

Fall TBD

Lakes Area Community Band

Historic Holmes Theater

Detroit Lakes, MN


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© 2018 Michael Maiorana