Seeds, possibilities

August 4, 2009

This weekend we spent the weekend with friends in Mill Valley (CA) as well as some time on a sunset boat ride around Belvedere, Tiburon, and that general [San Francisco Bay] area. Also on the boat was a Hollywood producer with whom I hit it off, who wants to introduce me to some directors looking for composers.

I also met with a well-connected friend who wants to collaborate on an opera that could have a major premiere. I know it’s bad luck to talk about things that are only possibilities but I came home charged thinking that my life could take a major turn if either of these possibilities actually happen.

I confessed to both that I’m an excellent composer who loves to collaborate, but that my weakest suit is promoting myself — my blog is about it. When I finish a commission, I am horny to get on to the next project — not spend time promoting it. The producer blew it off saying — “ah, that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you do great work, on time, and come in on or under budget.”

To date, I have been unsuccessful in predicting things that happened in my life. In 1972 I had no idea that ten years later I would go to Harvard, get a PhD and my composition selected as best piece of the year by the Boston Globe; in 1982 I had no idea that in 1992 I’d be a tenured UCLA Professor, touring America, attending performances of a cantata I wrote about a health epidemic that decimated gay men; in 1992 I had no idea I’d be writing a two hour oratorio about two apparitions of the Virgin Mary, become Chair of the Music Department, and get married to my male partner.

I look ahead to the next ten years and sense possibilities. I could wind down as Chair and Professor and ease into a well-deserved retirement; I could get a career as an opera composer and compose operas for the rest of my life; Hollywood could realize what a catch I am, and spend the rest of my days scoring films; or it could be a blend of all of the above.

I’m optimistic, but not fatalistic. I’m skeptical about the “it was meant to be” line of thinking. I think one has to set things in motion, try, make an effort, and most importantly WANT something, in order for it to happen.

Operas take a herculean effort to compose and mount. These big blockbuster films with thousands of notes per square second are also a huge amount of work. Do I really want that? Hmm, only time will tell.

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