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Behind the Music: “Restoration” (Restoration)

March 10th, 2016 · Music Studios

No, that title isn’t a typo–it’s an indication that track #3 on my newest album is the title track!

The tune for “Restoration” comes from an old Southern Harmony melody (sometimes listed as “I Will Arise”)–at Cherry Creek Presbyterian, it’s known as “Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy.” Here’s a shapenote version from a Sacred Harp Convention in Ireland (for you hymn geeks, you’ll notice lyrics from “Come Thou Fount” interwoven with “I Will Arise”):

(For further reflections on shapenote singing, here’s a brief review I wrote about attending a singalong a few years back).

This melody, like most good folk melodies, has traveled far and wide: parts of the hymn tune RESTORATION have been found in songbooks with various titles: Humble Penitent, Hayden, Bozrah, New Orleans, etc. Fragments of the tune have also appeared in secular songs like The Bird Song, Oh Love It is a Killing Thing, and When I First Left Old Ireland.

George Pullen Jackson identified relationships between this tune other early American songs. Both Jackson and Annabell Morris Buchanan (another scholar of religious folk songs) determined that this melody probably descended from the old Scottish ballad “Hynde Horn,” dating from at least the 13th century.

Here’s a rough recording of that ancient Scottish air–see if you can suss out the similarities (especially in the third line of the melody):

The versatile melody to “Restoration” is comprised of a grand total of five pitches (aka “pentatonic”); this collection, by the way, is at the root of much of world folk music and seems to be woven into our cultural DNA (if not the acoustic properties of sound itself–search “overtone series” for further geeking). Here’s a link to Bobby McFerrin demonstrating this scale’s universal appeal.

For my album, I set this song in a rumbling, McCoy Tyner-esque setting, evocative (hopefully) of some of John Coltrane’s late spiritual works. You’ll hear some solid solos by Mike Fitzmaurice (on bowed bass) and Bobby Ferguson (drums)–I was thrilled to record with both of these fine fellows!

Have a listen:

PS Thanks to also to Wayne Erbsen, longtime director of the Appalachian music program at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, N.C., for his research into the history of this tune.

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Behind the Music: “Life and Breath” (Restoration)

March 8th, 2016 · Music Studios

Welcome to post #2 in a blog series leading up to my CD release show (on Apr 3) for my newest album, Restoration.

Here are some liner notes for track #2 on the record, “Life and Breath” (Praise to the Lord, the Almighty):

Life and Breath (Praise to the Lord, the Almighty)

Continuing with using the flow of a vespers service as inspiration for the track order, I followed up the opening song (an invocation) with one that is often slated as a song of gathering and praise.

The composer of the hymn tune is unknown, but some historians speculate that it was based on a German folk tune from the late 17th-century.

As reference, here’s a setting from a service at Westminster Abbey to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation–about as traditional as you can get:

This tune has undergone countless transformations throughout the centuries. It was notably adapted by Bertolt Brecht for his Großer Dankchoral (“Grand Hymn of Thanksgiving”), a decidedly irreverent spoof on the original:

Praise ye the night and the darkness of night all around you!
All ye, come nigh! Look on the Heavens on high!
Your day is already over.

Großer Dankchoral

For my version, I arranged the song to give it a frolicking sense of forward motion. I took my inspiration as well as the track’s title from the opening lines of the original hymn lyrics:

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.

…Definitely a bit brighter tone than Brecht’s. 🙂

Here’s a link to hear my setting of this song:

Stay tuned for my next post about the title track #3, “Restoration.”

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Behind the Music: “Pilgrim” (Restoration)

February 2nd, 2016 · Music Studios

Hello!  While it’s been a while since my last post, I’m excited to share some news about my newest album.

On Apr 3, 4:00pm at Cherry Creek Presbyterian, I’ll be playing a CD release show to celebrate Restoration, my record of jazz piano trio arrangements of classic hymns.

For this new recording, I crafted instrumental arrangements of traditional hymns drawn from centuries of church music repertoire. During months of services at Cherry Creek Pres, I honed these arrangements for preludes and postludes before heading into the studio in late November of 2015. I went into MFP Studios here in Denver with Mike Fitzmaurice on bass and Bobby Ferguson on drums for one day of live recording, and I was thrilled with how Colin Bricker captured our performance.

In the weeks leading up to my CD release concert, I’ll be posting some background information on the songs in a series titled “Behind the Music” (with a nod to VH1’s classic TV series).  Consider these blog posts as liner notes to the album broken into several installations.

For starters, here’s some info on the opening track:

Pilgrim (Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah)

I ordered the tracks on this album to mirror the flow of a vespers service (Saturday services at Cherry Creek Pres are loosely modeled off of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer). I chose the hymn “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah” as the opener to serve as a song of preparation or gathering.  Some Christian worship traditions include an opening invocation or prayer called a collect (i.e. a prayer to “collect” or gather together the longings and hopes of those worshippers present).

The lyrics to this tune (penned by William Williams in 1745) read as a prayer for guidance and direction–apt sentiments before embarking on any journey, whether spiritual or musical. I took the phrase immediately following the opening line as inspiration for both my arrangement’s title and it’s Western-tinged waltz-feel:

Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
pilgrim through this barren land…

Considering the tune name is often listed in hymnals as CWM RHONDDA (Welsh for the name of the chapel where the tune was premiered), I figured “Pilgrim” was a bit more accessible 🙂

The melody was originally composed by John Hughes in 1907, who was commissioned to write this hymn for the installation of the organ at Capel Rhondda in Wales. Apart from church use, this hymn is probably best known as the ‘Welsh Rugby Hymn’, often sung by the crowd at rugby matches, especially those of the Wales national rugby union team.  (FYI, fans often substitute harsher words for the original, more solemn lyrics as a taunt to the opposition…)

For reference, here’s a YouTube video of Michael Ball singing slightly more-traditional words to this hymn (aka “Bread of Heaven”):

When I worked on arranging this song, I chose to alter both the rhythm and the harmonies, but if you listen attentively, you should still be able to recognize the original melody. Here’s a link to hear my setting of this song:

Stay tuned for my next post about track #2, “Life and Breath.”

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Freedom Fridays #10: Completing the List

January 23rd, 2015 · Bliss Street Studios, Music Studios

Happy new year!

Looking back at the last time I wrote on this topic of income streams for musicians, I’m realizing how much has changed for us in the past year.

Writing here from the Denver area, I’m now balancing freelance musical pursuits with full-time work as the director of Worship, Music, and Arts at Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church.

Colette is pursuing her passion for writing (see the prior posts on her success as part of Samuel French’s Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival).

Part of stepping into this new year is completing what’s outstanding and letting go of past projects to make room for new goals and aspirations.

So, I’m owning up to the fact that I will never finish this Freedom Fridays series, and I’m OK with that.

However, I want to wrap this up in a way that still provides some value, so below is a link to a solid list of 40 Ways to Make Money in Music:

http://www.stacksmag.net/2015/01/40-ways-money-music.html

Enjoy, and here’s to tying a ribbon on the past & looking ahead to the future!

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OOB Festival

June 13th, 2014 · Bliss Street Studios, Theatre Studios, Writing Studios

Colette Mazunik, 8x10Here’s my profile page for the festival:

http://oob.samuelfrench.com/index.php/the-matthew-portraits-by-colette-mazunik/

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OOB Festival

June 13th, 2014 · Bliss Street Studios, Theatre Studios, Writing Studios

OOB FestivalExcited to announce I’m one of the 30 semi-finalists of the 39th Annual Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival, and will have my play “The Matthew Portraits” presented in New York this August.

http://oob.samuelfrench.com/index.php/the-final-30/

The Samuel French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival

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Harmonious Bodies Podcast: Improvisation for All

July 8th, 2013 · Bliss Street Studios, Music Studios

jeffandevan-240x300I know, dear reader, your eyes may be riveted on that sleek photo of yours truly in classic black, but I implore you to pull yourself away and keep reading. 🙂

Here’s a link to a podcast interview I did with Jeffrey Agrell for Diana Rumrill’s Harmonious Bodies on improvisation and physical movement:

http://www.harmoniousbodies.com/2013/04/jeffrey-agrell-and-evan-mazunik-improvisation-for-all/

Check out the podcast and let me know which moments were your favorite.

Thanks to Diana Rumrill for the invitation! Below are some more links to check out, as well as ways to connect with Diana & Jeffrey:

Improv Insights: Contemporary Classical Improvisation In Pedagogy and Performance
Harmonious Bodies (Diana Rumrill’s website)

Connect with Diana on Twitter
Connect with Jeffrey on Twitter

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Among Fools: A Subrational Soundpainting

May 29th, 2013 · Bliss Street Studios, Music Studios

among-fools
Happy summer!

As we head into warmer temperatures, we’re excited to update you on an exciting upcoming event.

You’re cordially invited to my next Soundpainting show this June 21:

Among Fools: A Subrational Soundpainting
June 21, 2013, 8:00pm (doors at 7:30pm)

Irondale Center
85 South Oxford Street
Brooklyn, New York, 11217

Tickets: $12/door or $10/online
http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/387388

Our friends at Spark & Echo Arts commissioned me to compose this new work, inspired by the following Scripture passage:

“The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools.” (Ecclesiastes 9:17)

See you there!

Facebook event
AMONG FOOLS: Press Release

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Scenes and Shorts for Sandy Hook

April 20th, 2013 · Bliss Street Studios, Theatre Studios, Writing Studios

A one act of mine is part of the line-up in this event on Sunday.  New York folk–would love to see you there.

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Freedom Fridays #9: Grants

March 22nd, 2013 · Bliss Street Studios, Music Studios

Creative Commons

Happy Spring! Welcome back to this long-dormant series on income tips for the entrepreneurial musician. First off, I’ll spare you the excuses, but I must acknowledge this once-weekly series has been in DEEP hibernation. As I’m thawing this series out, I’m making a new arrangement: I’ll post all 52 tips in this Freedom Fridays series, and will aim for a weekly rhythm, but I’ll give myself some flexibility. Rest assured, though, I don’t want to put this puppy on hold for another season!

Thanks to Josh Stamper, Tomi Tsunoda, and Tanya Kalmanovitch (among others) who gave me great feedback & encouragement on this series; I’m learning how to own up, recognize the value I can bring to you, dear, reader, renegotiate my commitments, and realize it’s never too late to dust off this (or any other) project that’s been on the back burner.

Today’s post is about grants. Are grants competitive? Yes. Are you bound to get some rejection letters? Most likely. Are grants a reliable, steady stream of cash flow? Probably not. But, as I continue to hunt for income, I’m realizing that there are vastly more grants and opportunities out there–more so than I’m aware of, and much more than I imagine. From humongous, lifetime achievement awards, to micro-grants of several hundred dollars, there’s a wide swath of funding available, even in today’s economic climate. Check out a few of the links I’ve provided below:

Grantspace–Funding for Musicians: while they also have funding for other disciplines (writers, visual artists, etc.), there are a ton of links to follow on this page. (Scroll down to check out Michigan State University’s list of music grants).

NYFA Source: New York Foundation for the Arts has a large compendium of grants and awards for New York-based artists. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and sift through their massive database for just the right grant.

Queens Council on the Arts: I was honored to receive a grant from them last year for a collaboration with Elizabeth Dishman on her dance work Requiem Familiaris. (***Queens-based artists: check out not only their grant programs but their professional development workshops–I highly recommend them!)

Composer Assistance Program: New Music USA is offering this program to support composers in premieres of new works. The deadline to apply is coming up soon (April 1)–I’m planning to throw my hat in the ring for this one!

Douglas Detrick: Four Reasons to Finally Write that Grant : Douglas Detrick outlines some compelling reasons to get your grant application together, and the value (beyond monetary) of learning how to effectively present your work.

What resources for grants have you found out there? I’d love for you to share your research–I’m into collaboration and cooperation these days. Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and stay tuned for another installment!

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