This week my great friend and frequent collaborator Nick Kendall and I have the privilege of being in residence with the Illinois Symphony. I was commissioned by the orchestra upon Nick’s recommendation to compose a violin-concertante-type piece that would open this weekend’s performances, the rest of the program for which is the Sibelius violin concerto and Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration. My piece is entitled The Arc Inspired and indeed I hear Nick working through several passages in the adjacent hotel room as I write this (update- he’s just moved to Sibelius- perhaps if I rework this paragraph again he’ll have alternated back) (update #2- we are at breakfast now and Nick isn’t practicing anything, he’s eating oatmeal).

I’ve been awestruck since the very first moment I arrived by the graciousness and sincerity of the ISO family, starting with executive director Trevor Orthmann (who personally commissioned my piece) and extending to the numerous members of the board and symphony supporters we have met. Most of this interaction has taken place through dinners and cocktail parties that have been thrown in honor of us being here, where Nick and I have had the opportunity to speak and perform. Believe me, the honor has been all ours. These folks support their orchestra and are passionate about the arts in their community- and it shows.

Speaking of being awestruck- the hilarity and charm of new music director Alastair Willis incites in one the same response- but in no way do I mean to belie his formidable skills and perspicacious attention to detail. These qualities were obvious from his very first email to me, where numerous inquiries about my score evidenced his careful and thorough study. We had a wonderful session yesterday going through the piece, and both Alastair and Nick are ready to go. I'm humbled already by the effort and passion they've put into my work. I cannot wait to hear it with the orchestra.

More later. Fingers crossed for good rehearsals!