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From the Mind of the Composer...

There is a challenge that every conductor faces when we first sit down with a new score, and ask ourselves a very simple yet extremely complex question: What was the composer thinking?  It is the conductor's  job to spend countless hours studying (I average 2-3 hours a night), learning each instrument's part, all the chords and harmonies, and how it all works together to make the music come alive.  

Beyond the notes, we consider what the composer was thinking, experiencing, even the personal/societal/political pressures the composer faced when they put pen (or quill) to paper (or parchment). It's a lot of educated extrapolation (i.e. guessing) on the part of a conductor.  However, sometimes we are lucky enough to be able to ask the composer directly.

Today, to kick off our guest writer series, I have the honor of introducing you to the first of the two LIVING composers being featured on my April 26 CSO concert - Aaron Krerowicz (pronounced "KEH-doh-vich").  I met Aaron during my Master studies at Butler University, and have had the privilege of conducting a number of his works over the years, including the 2009 World Premiere of his "Woods" for chamber orchestra and soprano, featuring Lexa Ferrill.

Below, Aaron talks about the genesis of "It's Just A Scale...", a piece I've programmed in the past, and a composition I consider as one of the best pieces of contemporary music ever written, especially as it engages audiences, while challenging their preconceived (and sometimes less-than-favorable) notion of "new orchestral music".



Aaron (right) and I in discussion during a rehearsal of "Woods", in preparation for its 2009 World Premiere at the Canterbury Hotel in Indianapolis.      Photo by Scot McKim
The first of a 3-part series of guest writers, featuring two composers and a soprano (which actually sounds like the start of a really weird joke).

From the Desk of Aaron Krerowicz...

I originally intended "It's Just a Scale..." as a humorous piece and nothing more. There's a common children's game in which participants have to say the letters of the alphabet but the order of who says which letter is undetermined and if two people say a letter simultaneously you have to start all over again. I took the same concept but applied it to a musical context by substituting the major scale for the alphabet.

What I discovered, however, was that because I selected a scale as the basis for the game, a degree of harmonic expectation was implemented. Furthermore, I wrote "Scale" around the same time that I fell in love with the music on Anton Webern - and although Webern's music sounds nothing like my own, there is a strong similarity in that both are largely based on instrumental timbre (meaning the different sounds, or "tone colors" of each participating instrument). Everybody can hear in their mind's ear what the next note is supposed to be, but there is a strong degree of surprise when an unexpected instrument, with its unexpected timbre, plays that next note. All of this sets up a piece of music at once familiar and foreign, serious and silly.

-A. Krerowic, 2015

In addition to being a composer, Aaron Krerowicz is one of two professional Beatles scholars in the world. He published his first Beatles book, 
The Beatles & The Avant-Gade in late 2014, and his second, From the Shadow of JFK: The Rise of Beatlemania, will be released in early June 2015. This coming August he will be touring Indiana to present and promote his research and books.

For details, including his complete schedule, visit his website:
In 2009, the wonderfully talented Lexa Ferrill (left), charmed audiences with the Circle City Chamber Group, during the World Premiere of Aaron Krerowicz's "Woods", for chamber orchestra and soprano.
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