"David Brunner's music is lyrical, fresh-sounding and always creative.  His music is a favorite with the choir as well as the audience!"

Lynne Gackle
School of Music
Baylor University

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Monday
Mar152010

BBQ, Blues and....Elvis

Just back from the Southern Division ACDA convention in Memphis, which was a huge success.  Congratulations and thanks to Brad Almquist and his convention dreamers and planners.  I was so pleased to hear ISN’T THAT SOMETHING performed with great effervescence and style by Jeff Clayton’s Chorale women from the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts on Friday.  Brava! 

Sandra Snow’s Children’s Honor Choir sang A LIVING SONG as part of their concert, a well-crafted program which highlighted their voices brilliantly.

Paul Caldwell’s work with the Junior High School Honor Choir was awesome -- adventuresome programming, engaged and joyful singing.  A model for all of us.

Jonathan Reed conducted the premiere of BROTHERS OF THE SINGING VOID, the ACDA commissioned work for the High School Men’s Honor Choir.  My time with them in rehearsal on Friday was a highlight of the week.  They were eager and engaged and brought the music to life in a convincing and honest way.

 James Broughton’s wonderful words evoke the music of the spheres, of “star music”.  There are unusual juxtapositions of seeming opposites:  “percussive silences”, “the intimate roar”, “the singing void” and joyful phrases flung from across time and space.  Jonathan said this is the perfect men’s choir text and I agree. The music moves in broad, majestic phrases, with harmonic clusters, a slightly modal feel and echoing refrains of “Brothers!  Brothers!” The high school men sang with power and conviction, intimacy and sensitivity.  A stunning first performance that will be hard to beat!  Congrats to all the singers, conductor Jon Reed and men’s choir coordinator Vic Oakes.

The most unusual musical experience of the week surely came on my birthday night.  Dinner with friends at PIG With An Attitude BBQ came complete with an Elvis impersonator who led the room in a southern style “Happy Birthday to Me”!  Where else but Memphis!

Monday
Mar082010

Bernstein, Bach and Brunner!

Just back from a memorable weekend with the singers of Glenbrook North and South high schools, culminating in two concerts yesterday in the stunning Divine Word Chapel at Techny, Illinois.   Bernstein, Bach and Brunner! (and Mulholland, Biebl, Vivaldi, Whitacre, Lauridsen and others…)  The chapel is the predominant building of a surprising prairie seminary established in the 1920s by the Society of the Divine Word, with magnificent stained glass, a unique gallery that circles the entire church and a sumptuous acoustic.  Bravo to the singers and players, their inspiring and dedicated directors, and all who contribute to the thriving arts environment at the Glenbrook schools!

Monday
Feb082010

OK, here we go...

OK, I’ve put this off for a long time.  I thought with the update and new look of the website in November, I might start this blog.  Or maybe not.  Even a New Year’s resolution didn’t seem to get me going.  So now it’s February and I’ve decided to let you know what I’ve been up to.

In December, as an early Christmas present, I delivered RAINSTICK to the Frederick Children’s Chorus in celebration of their 25th anniversary.  It’s a delightful text by Irish poet Heaney Seamus about the rattling, gurgling sounds and wonder of this natural musical instrument, and is scored for SSA chorus with piano and eight rainsticks.  They’re all “choreographed” (think the dancing fountains at the Las Vegas Bellagio, but not quite…).  Founder and Director Judy DuBose says the children are loving it!  Her daughter and Assistant, Ann, wrote last week with questions about the rainsticks – What material?  (bamboo? cactus?)  How long?  (8”? 24”? 48”?!)  All the same or different?  Honestly I had to think about it and we agreed that this could be open to experimentation in rehearsal.  She promises to report back soon.  RAINSTICK premieres in Maryland this May.

In January I delivered the commissioned work for the fifth anniversary of the Girl Choir of South Florida.  Director Wallis Peterson sent me a big book of Florida folksongs last year and had chosen several dozen which caught her interest.  I had no idea so many of these had origins in or associations with Florida, and liked the idea of a suite or medley of songs.  I narrowed her list to about a dozen, finally settling on six, all having to do with the experience of young women in the South, hence the title SOUTHERN GALS.  It’s quite a different sort of piece for me, was good fun to write, and should have a wide appeal.  It also premieres in May in Fort Lauderdale.

The new SATB version of THE CIRCLES OF OUR LIVES premiered in January at the Colorado Music Educators Association conference, by the Smoky Hill Symphonic Choir, directed by Mike Grant.  A beautiful performance!

I presented two sessions for the Florida Vocal Association at the annual FMEA conference in Tampa in January and have since been to Pennsylvania (cold and snow) to conduct the District 6 High School Honor Choir, and Tennessee (cold, but no snow) to conduct the High School Men's Honor Choir at Lee University.  At both events I found the singers engaged and the organizers committed to their students’ musical growth and success.

Back home at UCF I am enjoying an inquisitive group of graduate students, an eager and capable undergraduate conducting class, and an eclectic repertoire with my choirs.

So here’s to semi-regular musings on my travel and teaching, writing and reading, and whatever else comes to mind.

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