The night before the performance, I feared I was making a huge mistake. I lost my appetite. I was shaking. I was hyper-ventilating. I was scared of putting my body out there in the way being dysfunctional Barbie required of me, especially in front of a mostly male audience. I was afraid that people would think my performance was too weird, disturbing, politically unclear —the list goes on. Although the work was intended to cause the audience some discomfort, I felt apologetic in advance for making them feel such things.
As I got to know my fellow Cycle 7 composers, I simultaneously fell in love with their work while growing increasingly intimidated by their brilliance. Negativity swirled around in my mind as I told myself that I wasn’t being friendly enough or insightful enough or funny enough or that my artistic voice would never be as clear and powerful as those of my colleagues...
written by Colin Payne 2018 GLFCAM William Bolcom and Joan Morris Fellow, Cycle 7
My life is one that is constantly scattered and tattered. It is a journey on the beaten and battered fast paced Millennium Falcon, but instead of space it is the big cities of New York, Chicago, and Detroit. Some people don’t like that “fly by the seat of your pants” lifestyle, but I love it. It is where I live. As I grow older and my capacity for sleepless nights, coffee infested breath, and liquor ridden midnight composition sessions become more limited, my philosophy is not necessarily on changing these habits but controlling them.
written by Marco-Adrián Ramos 2018 GLFCAM National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures Fellow, Cycle 7
I’ve become aware of the surreal nature of my current activity: Sitting in my Washington Heights apartment, beginning the sixth year of my conservatory studies at Juilliard, writing a blog post for an academy headed by Gabriela Lena Frank, a person whose name I’ve known ever since twelve-year-old me curiously googled “Latin composers” in a desperate bid to validate my interest in music (to myself).
In some of my earliest and fondest musical memories, I’m sitting at the piano reveling in those moments in a piece that made me go “ahh.” Whether or not I knew it then – I was in middle school at the time – I think I was hooked on the wonder that music can instill in us.
written by Dawn Norfleet 2018 GLFCAM Chou Wen-chung Fellow, Cycle 6
When I was a child, grown-ups asked me the typical question: What do you want to be when you grow up? I wanted to be a medical doctor, ballerina, conductor, psychologist, recording engineer, and an entertainment attorney. I had a voracious imagination, fed by books: My favorites were Alice in Wonderland, the Holy Bible, and Grimm's Fairy Tales. I loved cookbooks, encyclopedias, and I'd even found my big brother's hidden copy of the scary novel, The Exorcist, which terrorized my dreams and bored moments for the next several years.
written by Nick Benavides 2018 GLFCAM Arnold and Babette Salamon Fellow, Cycle 6
When I saw photos of friends of mine smiling and hanging out with Gabriela Lena Frank (and perhaps a few chickens), I knew I had to join them. I’ve long been a fan of Gabriela, but I had a problem: I had never met her, and I was certain I was never meant to.
2018 GLFCAM Marion Terwilliger Webster Fellow, Cycle 4
Though writing is a solitary activity, the hum and gurgle of the dishwasher, the buzz of the fat fly on the window, the deep sigh of my dog Jemma under the table as she shifts position, the voices of my sister-in-law and her children in the next room — These sounds keep me company, the vibrations of the other lives and processes around me. I am not alone. I am here. I am part of the larger world. And for me, the sensory connection to others provided by sound is beautiful thing.
Before I joined Cycle Two in 2017 to work with violinist Johnny Gandelsman and cellist Joshua Roman, I met Gabriela Lena Frank over Skype. It only took her an hour to understand pretty much everything about me — Who I am, what’s important to me, how I write music. We chatted while I was staying at my grandfather’s house in Glassboro, NJ, and Gabriela was wearing her ultimate composer-at-work red hoodie.
written by Stanton Nelson 2018 GLFCAM Dave and Gunda Hiebert Fellow, Cycle 6
Snippets of music and theology have always rummaged through my heart and mind - most of the time subtly, but on occasion loudly and intensely. For example, I will find myself singing the Schumann Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54 for weeks or that I dream about justification and sanctification for a while.
written by Erika Oba 2018 GLFCAM Gerald Fischer Fellow, Cycle 5
My sister (Hitomi Oba, Cycle 1) called me last year after her week in Boonville, excitedly recounting her week full of creative stimulation, good food, a beautiful environment, and new colleagues and friends. Her account of her residency was like no other residency I’d heard of before.
written by Steve Juliani 2018 GLFCAM Carleen Hutchins Fellow, Special Guest Auditor
I started writing music in 2016 at age 55 - after spending 25 years first as a professional horn player and then as a music copyist in the motion picture industry. In order to make the time to write, I also set aside a budding criminal defense law practice and changed how I managed my 15-year old music preparation business. But neither the added time nor the changed focus has made me a composer.
Gabriela, my new family fellow composers and Boonville gave me a second birth and opened my eyes again.
I started my trip to Boonville with my great wonderful friend Akshaya flying together from Austin, Texas to San Francisco California. Akshaya is extremely talented young composer, who creates one of my favorite music. We were studying musical composition in the same program at the University of Texas at Austin. Our friendship is very very important and dear to me!
written by Danny Gouker 2018 GLFCAM John and Marie LaBarbera Fellow, Cycle 6
I went for a walk with my wife the other day. It was one of the first nice Sundays of the spring in New York and we wandered around Prospect Park for an hour or so. After chatting for a while about a few trivial things and commenting to each other about some of the people and activities inhabiting the park, we walked in silence for a while. As we continued walking, our pace slowed as I got a little deeper in thought. Finally, I broke the silence.
Wherein the author, an aging composer-of- sort, and not very successful 195-pound Mexican-American lawyer, recounts his insecurities, experienced while listening to talented young composers’ works-in-progress.
What is it about music that invites comparisons and collaborations with other art forms? Today, music is often paired with film, dance, visual art, literature, poetry, and various other media. We may even take for granted these unions as they have become ubiquitous in modern culture.
written by Iman Habibi 2018 GLFCAM Lucy and Jacob Frank Fellow, Cycle 4
It may have begun as a search, a quest to find or explore a familiar unknown. Unlike most other children who came to know music through nursery rhymes and dance, my childhood was filled with nationalistic music that celebrated the Islamic revolution and glorified the war.
It was the night before December 1st, 2017 and the deadline for the GLFCAM Bahlest Eeble Readings application loomed over me. I’d made my way through the majority of the application, much of which involved questions about musical/compositional process, training, and who and what I would bring to a proverbial desert island.
Around this time last year, amidst October’s leaves falling into the Charles River, my friend and I were driving back to our apartment. “How are you doing?” had quickly dived into deep musical questions – not unusual conversation between us, a pair of young and freelancing musicians.
These are just the top five words from a long list that describe dear Gabi, who with her work with the Creative Academy of Music shows us all how creating music is our way of making this the kind of world in which we want to live.
written by Noah Luna 2017 GLFCAM Albert Ginastera Fellow, Cycle 2
The spirit of collaboration is rooted in community, so it makes perfect sense that the most rewarding collaboration I have experienced was in Boonville, California. For those of you that haven't had the pleasure, Boonville is a small town in the Anderson Valley - home to wineries, hop gardens, and other quintessential California crops, including a favorite of mine: the Anderson Valley Brewing Company. But more than the commercial crops this sleepy town sows, Boonville is the quintessential western commune.
My husband and I have always loved music. When we lived in San Francisco, we had season tickets to the symphony and to a baroque orchestra. Those evenings were highlights of our life there. When we moved to the Anderson Valley there were other pleasures, but live music was not one of them! We attempted to compensate by having a wonderful audio system at home...in fact, for his retirement present my husband bought some high end speakers and set up a special listening area in our home.
written by Nina Shekhar 2017 GLFCAM Gerald Fischer Fellow, Cycle 1
Last year, I received an email from Gabriela Lena Frank asking me if I would be interested in participating in her inaugural Creative Academy of Music. The opportunity was so special and the chance to be mentored by someone as truly extraordinary as Gabi was too good to pass up, so of course I had to say yes. When I accepted, she thanked me for taking a chance on her – to which I replied, “I’m not taking a chance on you, your amazingness is guaranteed. I’m honored that you would take a chance on me.”
written by Garrett Schumann 2017 GLFCAM Arnold and Babette Salamon Fellow, Cycle 3
It is hard to believe it has been weeks. It is hard to feel time pass at all, after it seemed to stand still in the mountains of Boonville, California. I felt magic in my time at the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music – The magic of hearing the inchoate strands of a fledging composition woven into stunning musical life, and the magic of instant, unwavering trust in my new creative family.
This Academy, then… Why now? Bueno, I suppose it has to do with a confluence of middle age when I'm finally able to unself-consciously say “I am a composer,” the turbulent political times we are in as a nation, and having a partner to dream with, emboldening me to dare the chances. More and more, I feel that life is mercilessly short so let's just see what happens if I were to open my home to my younger colleagues and provide emerging composers a little hard-earned counsel ("Don't make that mistake I made!"), opportunities to work with my amazing performer friends ("She's a virtuoso... Go on, load up those triple stops."), and an über safe space to challenge one's creative habit ("This is a good first roll-out... Care to make your idea even more interesting?")