Monday, June 06, 2011

Q&A with Composer Tim Jansa

1) Name five influences.

Bruckner, Mahler, Rachmaninov, R. Strauss, Vaughan Williams… yes, I freely admit to being a hopeless (neo-)romantic. And I must give sincere credit to my friend and music professor, Eric Culver, for making me reconsider everything I thought I knew about music composition, back in 2003/2004 – which made me a better composer in the process.

2) What are you currently working on? What can we expect to hear from you?

I’m currently mostly in the process of trying to get older works ready for publication, which means a lot of editing and ironing kinks and orchestration goofs out of the scores. (Not very glamorous or fun, I know.) Other than that, I’m still working on a larger suite for concert band that I’m hoping to finish by next spring, in time to get started on a couple of commissions for the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 concert seasons which are larger wind ensemble and orchestral pieces. But who knows what else will come along in-between…

3) What's good about the Atlanta music scene? Or, why do you live and/or work here?

My day job is really in adult foreign language education, which is what brought me to Atlanta in the first place. Music has always been my passion, but it’s only been in the last 5 or 6 years that it’s become a source of income and a little recognition.
What’s good about the Atlanta music scene? Well, I can really only speak about the classical scene: We do have decent number of good local orchestras – especially the ASO, of course – a great opera company (although still somewhat limited), several truly outstanding venues … but what really makes the difference for composers like myself who don’t (yet) have access to the big names are the many smaller and outstanding (chamber) ensembles that truly pack a punch and are mostly completely underappreciated, despite the tremendous talent they harvest.

4) What is the biggest challenge you face as an Atlanta composer and how do you address it?

One thing I had to learn quickly is that it’s all about networking, knowing the right people and building relationships, sometimes over the course of many years. On a larger scale, there seems to be such a tremendous disconnect between the “big boys” in town that have access to appropriate funding and the “little guys” like myself and many others who don’t. At least there are many smaller venues that are open to smaller groups to perform. Finally, I find it somewhat sad – albeit typical – that none of the members of Robert Spano’s “Atlanta School of Composers” are, in fact, from Atlanta.

5) Who in the local scene would you like to collaborate with and why?

Since I’m on the newly-founded board of directors of the Atlanta Chamber Winds, I’m very much looking forward to working with that ensemble in the near future; also, I’d like to work more with the ensemble Il Brasso Magnifico beyond the performance in a couple of weeks. And finally, it would be great to get my foot more securely in the door with one or two of the local symphony orchestras.

6) What instrument(s) haven't you written for that you would like to write for?

Tough question, but I’d really like to write more for percussion ensemble down the road and experiment with more exotic percussion sounds.

7) How does technology play a role in your work?

I use Sibelius for notation and score/parts/demo creation, and honestly couldn’t survive without it. Other than that, I only do a little bit of sound and video editing of recordings with basic software like Audacity. So even though my technology needs are pretty simple, they’re still crucial in order to get my music out there.

8) When and where is your next performance?

Two of my works will be performed during the 2011 International Euphonium Institute conference at Emory University later in June: The Dekalb Symphony is going to play the 3rd movement of my Euphonium Concerto on June 21st, with Adam Frey as soloist, and Il Brasso Magnifico will be playing a piece for brass ensemble entitled “Meditation and Madness” on June 25, the former at First Baptist Church of Decatur, the latter at Emory’s Schwartz Center. In addition, a new composition for flute and piano titled “Twenty-One” that was commissioned by my good friends Robert and Sarah Ambrose is scheduled to be premiered by Sarah later this summer.
Other than that, most performances of my music over the next months are outside the Atlanta area.

9) Where can we find you online?

Thanks, Tim!

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