highSCORE – A Reflection

highSCORE Festival is today’s leading Italian Contemporary Music Festival

The HighSCORE New Music Festival takes place on the outskirts of Pavia, Italy, on what is referred to as Campus Aquae, a set of dorms for the University of Pavia which includes a large community pool next door. In the main area of the campus, there are the dormitories arranged in a square around a courtyard, and in the middle of the courtyard is a large glass room. 

                                                                                                                                                   offering unique masterclasses specifically shaped for composers,

For me, I ended up meeting one of the faculty early. As I approached the baggage claim at the Milano Linate Airport, I realized that one of the people standing near me was the world-renowned music theorist/philosopher Dmitri Tymoczko. It took a little more than a glance from him at the midi keyboard I was holding for us to begin talking, at which point he informed me he would be able to give me a ride to the festival so that I did not need to work through the difficulty of finding a bus and then a train. His ride was running late, so, despite being jet-lagged, he was able to share a number of stories on topics from Philip Glass to John Cage (he had attended Cage’s randomly generated Charles Eliot Norton lectures while a student at Harvard).

                                                                                                                  one of the «ten summer festivals to get the contemporary music blood pumping» (Composition: Today).

The glass room (often referred to as, “The Fishbowl”) is where the majority of the first week’s activities start, where the festival participants get to know each other and the faculty during colloquiums and lectures where the students and faculty all present their works, with the faculty also presenting a series of lectures in their specializations. Among these lectures included Amy Beth Kirsten giving an introduction to the world of composed theater, Sarah Kirkland Snider telling us all about the do’s and do not’s of recording and releasing our music, and Dmitri Tymoczko lecturing about how music theory does and does not fit into actual music composition (much of the information in this lecture can be found in his book, A Geometry of Music).

The upcoming 9th edition (August 6-18, 2018) features an outstanding faculty roster: Helmut Lachenmann and Toivo Tulev, guests of honor; Amy Beth KirstenSarah Kirkland SniderDmitri Tymoczko, and Christopher Theofanidis the core of our Composition faculty.

The second week of the festival brought lectures and masterclasses by the two guests of honor, Toivo Tulev and Helmut Lachenmann, as well as more workshops and lectures by the other faculty, and performances of the pieces we had all written for the festival. The two guests of honor are some of the most renowned composers on earth, so getting to hear them lecture first-hand was an absolute dream come true. It was also amazing to witness the masterclasses, where a select number of students showcased their work and received feedback live feedback from Lachenmann, Tulev.

Guest performers invited to perform the music submitted by participant composers are Quartetto IndacoTrio Mythos and unassisted fold.

The rehearsals with Quartetto Indaco went very well the previous weekend. Despite this, I was very nervous about their upcoming performance of my work at Chiesa di Santa Maria di Canepanova. This concert was going to be the first time my music was played in any sort of concert, and for some reason, the universe decided it should be by a stunningly amazing professional group in a foreign country in a city I had never stepped foot in before in a church which looked as though it was taken straight out of one of my dreams.

Application deadline: April 14th, 2018.

Here is the audio plus some poetic looking clouds I took a photo of on the plane ride home. A special extra thank you to the Quartetto Indaco for their mind-blowing performance of my piece. I’m so glad to have walked away with an amazing performance, and an amazing new bunch of friends who make some of the absolute coolest music I’ve ever heard. I could not have asked for a better first festival experience.

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