As kids returning to school in the fall, most of us knew that at some point in the first week of class we’d have to write a “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” essay. If you were like me, you made stuff up, seeing as how I spent most of the summer goofing around the neighborhood and watching TV. Who wants to read an essay about that?
These days, every person I check in with begins with,” How are you and Cindy doing? What’s life like for you in the Great Lockdown of 2020?” Now that the fog seems to be lifting, I thought I might take a moment and break the silence I’ve been keeping. Plus, I was reminded by a reader and FB friend that it had been quite some time since I posted a new blog.
The whole lockdown crisis didn’t change my life all that much, other than adding stress to my grocery-shopping chores. I have always worked at home alone – the creative equivalent of the mad scientist mixing bubbling chemicals in a dungeon. The lockdown didn’t change that. In fact, I landed additional work because of the COVID crisis, helping out the folks at YouthCUE.org with an increased podcast production schedule, as well as helping them create a short series of inspirational videos for Holy Week.
(You can watch the videos and hear the podcasts at https://www.youthcue.org.)
I know that I’m fortunate to have had this work, when so many of my fellow musicians have lost gigs, or experienced severe cutbacks.
But despite the fact that literally no one has been buying music for the past eight weeks, I’ve also been working on new music.
- I wrote a new orchestral hymn arrangement of “The Church’s One Foundation.” It’s already available here at robertsterlingmusic.com. It had been far too long since I contributed new material to my Platinum Orchestra Series, and this new arrangement makes a nice addition.
- I completed an anthem collaboration with THE Joseph Martin, titled “Prayer for Peace.” Everybody knows Joe is a masterful composer and melodist. But I also know him to be a gifted lyricist. I sent Joe a new tune, which he liked. He wrote a lyric, which I liked. And together, we hammered out the arrangement. (When we were finished, we both marveled that we still liked one another!) Joe believes the new piece will appeal not only to church choirs, but also to school choirs. And I am not one to question Joe Martin when it comes to choral music marketing.
- You know those unfinished songs you have stored in a file folder, or stashed in a desk drawer? I have those, too. I’ve had one particular tune in my “Unfinished Songs” folder for a very long time. (Think a couple of decades.) I liked the music, but it needed new lyrics. So, I finally buckled down and crafted all new words for this old tune. I arranged it for choir, and orchestrated it. Then I produced instrumental tracks for the demo recording. When the time is right, I’ll take it to the studio and record a choir. Then I can release a groovy new choral anthem, named “Sing We a Song of Praise.”
- And finally, I completed what may be the most unique project I’ve ever written: A suite of four “Symphonic Verses” – compositions for orchestra and a reader, underscoring four brief inspirational poems. Two of the pieces were commissioned by YouthCUE. The other two I wrote specifically to complete the suite. After writing them, I produced the demo recordings (right here in the Cave), and sent them to my talented friend, Amick Byram, to record the poems over the orchestral recordings.
(You can learn more about Amick here, at his website. Suffice it to say, you’ll be impressed.)
I know a lot of you have also been busy creating during this forced down time. As I mentioned to my fellow composer, Heather Sorenson, I anticipate a flood of new music will rain down on the world when this crisis lifts. New songs. new anthems. New instrumental music. New recordings. I look forward to hearing what you’ve created while in this time of isolation. Perhaps I’ll even hear some of it at the virtual Composer Symposium in June! In the meantime…
Keep writing. Keep creating. Keep polishing your skills.
Now, I’ve gotta get back to work.