The most polite way I can describe 2020 is as a year that tested our ability to adjust and adapt. Everyone has been affected by this pandemic. With all of the variables that the last year has brought, I want you to know that if there is anything I can do to help you or your students, ask, and I will be there to help in any capacity that I can.
Thank you to all who programmed my music, asked me to write for, or work with your class or ensemble. Because of you, I am able to maintain a career in music. I do not take your support lightly and am grateful every day that I am afforded this opportunity through your confidence. Because I know that space in your inbox and your time is valuable, I rarely write an update. Below is a collection of information about projects and happenings during 2020 and looking toward 2021.
First, I don't social media anymore (my last personal FB post is above). I made a choice to break from most of my accounts. I do still use Twitter (only because I don't find it addictive), and I also run the Rob Traugh, Composer Facebook page with updates and try to interact from there. If you want to reach me, the best way is through email, text, or phone! #OldSchool
Cartwheeling is my flexible instrumentation concert band composition. This piece took its origins from all of the outside time that my family had this past summer. My daughter Maia learned to cartwheel and spent the whole summer cartwheeling around our yard. I realize this isn't very deep "arting" (that's a verb). But, I did appreciate the simple, child-like fun and wanted to write something whimsical for this new category of composition. I also threw in some musical humor. You can find a score and recording by clicking the image above.
“When The Fog Lifts”
photograph by João Cruz
Dr. Cassandra Eisenreich reached out to me in early 2020 to begin conceptualizing a piece of music for the 2021 Honors Flute Choir at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. Through the process, she shared with me a recording of the Oslo Kammerkor singing a traditional Norwegian folk song "Når mitt øie, trett av møie" (translated as "When my eye, tired of toil"). This piece of music was so beautiful and straightforward, in 2020, it was precisely the type of music that resonated with me.
I used Når mitt øie, trett av møie as the inspiration for When The Fog Lifts. Drawing upon the opaque nature of what the world has been going through in the last year amidst a global pandemic, contentious election, and general cloudy future, I used this idea to inspire the piece. The use of melodic fragmentation, an aeolian flute palate, vocalization, and tonal clouding give the listener a sense of watching the fog lift and give way to more clarity. This piece resembles that idea, leading to the work's apex directly inspired by the traditional folk melody. Click the image above to hear more!
Thanks to Dr. Eisenreich for initiating this collaboration!
“A Gift Resounding”
I completed a memorial commission for the Norwin Band in early 2020. In the fall of 2019, Tim Daniels, Director of Bands at Norwin High School, asked me to write a commission for the Norwin Bands honoring a student's memory, who was lost just months before. I am looking forward to scheduling a premier of this with Norwin when we can organize this. Until then, any potential performances will be on hold.
“Through These Woods”
Since 1965, the North Hills High School Bands have annually commissioned a composer to create a new wind band work. I am honored to contribute to that collection in 2020 with “Through These Woods...” Thank you to the North Hills High School Band Directors Len Lavelle & Lucas Beaver, for the opportunity to interact with you and your students through early 2020. The premier at the 2020 MFA National Festival was canceled; however, you can check out a rehearsal recording and score of the piece by clicking the image above. Lucas Beaver did a fantastic job bringing this composition to life under his baton in the rehearsals.
Free Etudes Avaliable!
In 2020, I finished a series of 20 FREE etudes. To learn more about this and check out the etudes that have been written thus far, click the link below!
If you hear an etude you like and would like it transposed for your instrument, send an email!
In addition to teaching as an adjunct at Duquesne University and doing some work with the Three Rivers Young Peoples Orchestras, I’ll be continuing to compose through 2021. Here is a preview of my current project.
New Music for Saxophone & Percussion
I am just finishing up a collaborative composition with composer David Reeves for saxophone and percussion octet. I met David in 2007 when I was beginning to dabble in composition. David has been a great mentor and friend since then.
Equally incredible people, Dr. Jason Kush and Dr. David Glover at Slippery Rock University, are leading the consortium to sponsor this piece. It is turning out to be one of my favorite projects thus far.
If anyone is interested in joining the consortium last minute, send me an email, and I can send you more specific information to peruse. I will send a separate email in January with more details about the completion of this project.
I am currently available for commissions. If you are interested in collaborating with me to create new music for your group, send me an email inquiry and ask for more information about the timeline and pricing. It is best to allow a significant amount of time to create new works—the more time to write ultimately, the more meaningful and appropriate the work. I also have a few composer friends I can direct you to if you are looking for something different!
For those of you who are interested in working towards fall pageantry design, we can start to plan in January. Send me and email with your thoughts!
Upcoming Scheduled Performances!
February 28th, 2021 @ 7 PM via Facebook Live - The Slippery Rock University Honors Flute Ensemble will be premiering "When The Fog Lifts" a piece commissioned by Dr. Cassandra Eisenreich and the Slippery Rock University Flute Studio.
There is no doubt this year has been disheartening for society as a whole. It is easy to read or watch the news and become discouraged by what you see every day. What typically doesn't get enough credit is how much teachers and students have stepped up to the plate. Society can take a collective lesson from teachers, and the generation of students currently experiencing significant change. Teachers continue to demonstrate what it means to rise to the occasion and move forward through countless obstacles.
The situations our teachers of all levels find themselves in are inconsistent and unpredictable. Resources are less than what is needed across the board to handle what is/will be demanded. I would encourage anyone who reads this update to send a note of appreciation and support to your local music programs as they move past the pandemic. The challenges of maintaining and remodeling our performing arts programs begin when the pandemic ends. We can all help by offering a donation in kind, money, or time to support these professionals. Be involved as a citizen of your arts community.
President John F. Kennedy once stated that "Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource." Now is the time for the entire community to partner with and preserve our music programs for the general good they offer to our world. The bottom line is, what happens in schools is our path to a more enlightened future. Teachers and this generation of students are to be admired. Against all the odds and inequity, you make this world a better place to live. Thank You.
I hope everyone is having a meaningful holiday season with friends and family. One of my favorite times of year is going from The Midwest Clinic straight into the holiday season. The Midwest Clinic is always a wonderful experience. Fascinating sessions, presented by incredible people, internationally relevant performances, and the chance to meet and catch up with inspiring people from other islands in our archipelago of music education, creation, and performance. Whatever your role is in our community, THANK YOU!
Boardman MS Directors Tim Tuite and Michael Shevock commissioned a new piece for their young band available soon. This is a fun composition inspired by the music of Philip Glass. CLICK HERE!
Robert K. Matchett III and Elizabeth Freimuth commissioned a duet which I finished in October. This is a fun piece that I am very much looking forward to hearing performed soon! Music will be available at the MMP catalog. Listen to the MIDI rendering HERE.
Since 1965, the North Hills High School Bands have annually commissioned a composer to create a new work for wind band. I am honored to contribute to that collection in 2020 with “Through These Woods...”. Thank you to the North Hills High School Band Directors Len Lavelle & Lucas Beaver, for the opportunity to interact with you and your students. You can check out a MIDI rendering of the piece HERE.
I am currently writing a memorial commission for the Norwin High School Bands (Tim Daniels & Brandon Kandrack - Directors) who unexpectedly lost a member of the band in the summer of 2019. I am honored to work on such a special project for a program that is very near and dear to my heart.
For those of you who have contacted me to work toward your pageantry design, I will be in touch within the first week of January about the next steps! Enjoy this time with your families! You deserve it!
In the summer of 2019, I was asking a question on the local Western PA Band Directors facebook page about a common concerto, and someone commented that it is getting harder and harder for their students and district to spend money. In fact, I have been there myself when I was teaching full time. To support this reality, I am writing a series of FREE etudes targeted at the high school instrumentalist. Most Fridays I have a new etude for anyone that is interested. My goal is to do this through May 2020. To learn more about this and check out the etudes that have been written thus far, click the link below! http://www.robtraugh.com/free-etudes.html
February 22, 2020 at 7:30 PM - Westmoreland Symphonic Winds— Christopher Marra, Conductor performs "#".
March 12-14, 2020 - North Hills HS Wind Ensemble - Len Lavelle & Lucas Beaver, Directors - premieres "Through These Woods..." at the Music for All National Festival.
April 15, 2020 - Youngstown State University Symphonic Wind Ensemble - Stephen Gage, Conductor performs "The River at First Light".
April 22-25, 2020 - Bethel Park High School Wind Ensemble - Chad Thompson, Director performs "The River at First Light"@ The PMEA Conference
A commission is a unique way to interact with a composer. I am available for commissions for ensembles of all ability levels. If you are interested in asking me to create something new for your ensemble, send me an email inquiry and ask for more information about the timeline and pricing. I have a lot of composer friends I can direct you to as well if you are looking for something different!
I am also available to come into your school and guest conduct or clinic your ensemble or honors band! I have had some great experience with groups from grades 7 - 12 of all levels.
Let me know how I can help YOU - the amazing educators making it happen every day.
To my friends who program concerts near and far: Composing is always more fun when you have a variety of unique timbres and voices to write with. Programming a concert with a similar mindset can be just as fun. Of course, I appreciate your consideration of my music as you are programming for your ensembles. In addition, I believe we have a responsibility to the students in our ensembles to take a serious approach to programming music that reflects the diversity of the world around us. After all, perspective is one of the greatest gifts a teacher/conductor can provide to those sitting in their ensemble. Consider the diversity of perspectives you can provide to your students through the diverse compositional voices you select, particularly from people who may not traditionally have had the opportunity to contribute within the mainstream wind band “scene." One of the most amazing things happening in the band world right now is the ease of access to these diverse voices. There are many resources for finding these voices and their contributions to consider. I’ll create a blog post soon to help direct everyone to these groups. A great place to start is the Murphy Music Press catalog. I would encourage you to dive deeper into the composition and the voice that created it. After all, that is what is most enjoyable about making music. : )
I hope everyone has a great start to the new year!