It’s the End of My World As I Know It
Apart from a few minor aesthetic things, like the design of a title page for the score, and another round of proofreading, …That the Children May Learn, including the analytical paper, has been completed. There has been one rehearsal of the piece, and apart from the embarrassment of a few copying errors (which I suspect are somewhat inevitable in a project of this size, but no less unacceptable) and the contrapuntal complexity of the work, I think it went very well. As things wind up, I’ll be writing more here, and sharing any recordings that fall my way. I’m especially looking forward to sharing the recording from the City Limits Brass Quintet’s recital performance of the piece I wrote for them. They knocked it out of the park, and it was a lot of fun to listen to.
All that having been said, since the calendar appears to be hellbent on giving up days and falling forward to the end of my education, I’m struck with pangs of uncertainty about the future. What I do know is that my academic life as a student is drawing to inexorable closure. As part of the dissertation, one has the option of writing Acknowledgements in order to reflect on and commit to posterity a modest accounting of the dissertator or dissertatrix’s circumstances and gratitudes. Since nobody except for those who are obligated by committee membership is likely to ever read my dissertation, I wanted to share the Acknowledgements here, so that others might have a chance to note the sheer number of people it takes to carry someone through literally decades of musical life. As always, there are accidental omissions, spatial and temporal limitations, and the like, but this is what we’re rolling with.
Professor Dan Welcher has, in the specific, helped me to bring a massive, amorphous, and unconventional dissertation project into focus, with the result being a piece of music and engine for motivating public discussion about which I am tremendously proud. In the general, he has helped me to sharpen my clarity of musical thought and competency as a composer, frequently by drawing attention to flaws that pride, a misunderstanding of sunk costs, and poor oversight had allowed to remain on the written musical page. I offer abundant gratitude for these lessons, and the ones when I fell short and learned the importance of strict personal standards and accountability.
The members of my committee have each contributed substantially to my time at the University of Texas. Dr. Pinkston has stoked my interest in electronic and electroacoustic music and quite literally taught me everything that I know of them; Dr. Drott has gamely tolerated my incessant questioning of music-theoretical applications and interpretations, letting me play Theorist for a semester; Dr. Tusa taught perhaps the most engaging and intellectually stimulating course that I took during my studies; and Dr. O’Hare has been a warm and invigorating presence, being, as I, a man of diverse interests and experiences who is armed with an absolute distaste for the abuse of the written word. I thank you all kindly for your participation in this terminal exercise.
How I got here is another important matter. The musicians from whom I have learned are all a part of my make-up. Some played a more definable role than others. Were it not for Paul Shaghoian, I would likely have abandoned musical life long ago. If Gerald Levinson had not, in a brief moment in the weeks after my undergraduate recital, called me into his office to tell me that he thought I had enough of the unteachable gifts to justify being a composer, I would probably be shackled to my desk working unforgiving hours at a law firm. In no particular order, let it be known that the following hold a piece of my musical identity in their own: Virko Baley, Jorge Villavicencio-Grossmann, Yevgeniy Sharlat, Daniel Catán, Key Poulan, Lex Rozin, Joel Friedman, John Alston, Dave Loeb, Bruce Paulson, Larry Honda, Linda Berg, David Alvarado, Marshall Hawkins, Dan Gailey, Steve Owen, Erica Muhl, Ian Krouse, Jose Diaz, Rachel Aldrich, Kevin Gorman, Mykola Suk, Ed Hull, Jeff Hellmer, Brandon Fields, and many others.
Without the support and encouragement of my parents, I never would have known that music was a thing one could give the world, rather than simply taking it. The willingness to drive to lessons, auditions, and concerts; to put up with early morning drop-offs or late night pickups; to fundraise, sacrifice, or barter so that I could participate in camps and grand adventures throughout the United States and Europe…all of these are the things that a child took for granted and expected, but that an adult now appreciates for their full value. And, I have been blessed by other parents, who met me already a musician, and thereafter insisted upon enthusiastically embracing all the bizarre peculiarities that such a poor life choice produces. Mom, Dad, Mum, Dad, and Cindy: thank you.
Even the most intensely introverted and control-obsessed musician could not possibly develop without interacting with and benefiting from the input and generosity of others. So, I would like to express my appreciation for those with whom I have had the pleasure of sharing my musical experiences. Ethan, Hermes, Ian, Steve, Zacks, Lane, Pierce, Beth, Diana, Jack, City Limits Brass Quintet, Joe, Jessica, Julia, Danny, Frank, Cynthia, Nick, Todd, Brendon, Felipe, Jon, Francois, Chad, Ryan, Amy, Andrew, Mac, Mark, Megan, Phillip, Zoë, and more: y’all are the best.
Though I will be the one upon whom a degree is conferred when the dust settles, the honor really ought to be shared and transferable to those who have had to endure the past several years living with a sort of phantom me. A husband late to bed, out to a concert, or too exhausted to bear an adequate amount of domestic responsibility; a father too busy trying to meet a deadline to allow for something as simple as a trip to the park, or absent to complete this or that duty in a world from which children are barred. I have tried my best to avoid misrepresenting my allegiances and priorities, and my family has always been first in my heart. But intentions are sometimes as impotent as a prayer against time, and there is no way to know how our lives might have been transformed were I a better juggler. Emma Louise, Zoë Louise, and Ashby Jane Taylor Capps have all of my love and thanks, and they hold all of my hope. Having poured all into this, I look forward to giving all of me back to them, so that we might chase the wind, being blown by it no more.