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A Composition Wednesday

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We’re focusing on composition this month, so we decided to take a look at a single day in the life of third-year composer Anne Wang, who’s Australian and who holds the Charles Jones Scholarship and the Henry Mancini Fellowship in Composition. 

Anne Wang

Anne Wang

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7:30am Mornings are hard. I have to set multiple alarms. I get up, get dressed, grab a breakfast snack, and run over to school. I’m often thankful that the dorm is in such close proximity!

8:23am In the computer lab printing music. This is a pre-lesson ritual for me, and the school has just opened, so the room’s deserted and peaceful.

8:30am Time for my weekly composition lesson. Two days ago, I submitted the final score and parts for Quartered [for mezzo-soprano and orchestra; to be played in the April 28 Juilliard Orchestra concert] and [Robert] Beaser and I are finally able to move onto new things! My current project is inspired by one of my favorite books: Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore, a coming-of- age story that returns anticlimactically to the same “ordinary life” it began with. My piece, To Takamatsu and Back, intends to build and release momentum in a similar manner. For oboe and piano, it will be played by my friends and classmates Mitchell Kuhn and Joey Chang in a studio recital on April 17. In my lesson I’m once again reminded how a single note can cause a complete turnaround—my teacher suggests an E instead of a C in a chord and suddenly we find the true sense of mystery that I’ve been trying to evoke!

9:30am It’s time for our weekly departmental Ear Training Teaching Fellows meeting. We discuss serious business as usual, but also touch on future fun possibilities—like going bowling.

10:02am My theory elective—Timebenders with [Tom] Cabaniss—is all about duration. For our Friday lab, we’re to write a short piece exploring tempo modulation as Carter does in his String Quartet No. 1. I want to play around with some interesting polyrhythms on the piano—in particular, 7 against 8, as Barber does in his Excursions No. 3—a piece that’s been running through my head recently.

11:23am I wolf down some halal leftovers for early lunch. My mini-fridge is the hero of dorm living.

12pm Some of my weekly Ear Training coachings are busier than others (at the end of last semester it was like Times Square), but today I only have one student. We’re able to really crack down, and we manage to go over resolving intervals for a solid 40 minutes. Good work all around!

1:12pm I’d usually have Scoring to Picture at this time, but today it’s been postponed, so I take the time to work on my Music Technology class project: scoring a short film named Benny and Jack’s Flying Machine. The part I’m working on is kind of folk-y, and I spend a good 10 minutes trying to find just the right kind of plucked string sound.

2pm Since I have extra time today, I attend the dress rehearsal for a Beyond the Machine event. It’s very interesting to see the eclectic mix of set-ups and art forms. All kinds of interactive light displays respond to a dancer’s movements, and there are graphic animations that respond to volume level. A string quartet does mic- checks and a synthesizer is being filmed live from above.

4pm I tutor at the Writing Center and my tutee has brought The Monkey and the Monk (an abridged Journey to the West) for her Writing Seminar class. We discuss broad topics such as character development but also hone in on more technical writing skills.

5:07pm Time to call home! It’s 8:07am in Sydney, and my family’s just gotten up.

6pm Two words: sushi night! I shamelessly order two boxes of salmon nigiri in the cafeteria. (Wondering where and why the sushi always goes so quickly? It’s me. I’m sorry.)

6:37pm I enjoy drawing as a hobby, and take some time to sketch.

7:02pm I’ve got some more homework to cover. We’re currently investigating Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations in my music history elective with [Anne-Marie] Reynolds, and we’re starting Ravel’s Mother Goose in my conducting class with [Jeffrey] Milarsky. Composition, as always, is also in the cards for tonight, and, spurred on by my lesson, I spend time making edits to the piece I’m currently writing.

10:17pm My friend Kady Evanyshyn and I get distracted by Piano Tiles 2, an iPhone game our friend Madeline Olson got us hooked on. Thanks, Maddie, for all the unnecessary finger cramps lately. The mantra for tonight: “Must. Beat. La Campanella.”

10:42pm Marco-Adrián Ramos and I text about posters for our studio recital.

11pm Back to writing before my night closes! Another good, inspiring day to sleep on.

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