In the words of

Timothy A Corpus

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LIFE

My what a whirlwind year it has been so far. Apparently working three jobs and trying to be a composer keeps one busy. The fiscal year is rounding out for the Hyde Park Youth Symphony, Loyola University Chicago and the Northwest Indiana Symphony. I am excited that I also get to take a vacation for 4 days. A true “staycation”. Our plan is to just do the things around town that we never have the time to do. I am so excited for some time off.

In April the Hyde Park Youth Symphony hosted our Spring Benefit (major fundraiser for the year) and we raised over $25,000 for student programs and scholarships. I was also able to grab the first full Season Sponsor for the organization in its 63 years. I’m happy to announce that the University of Chicago Medicine will be supporting the Hyde Park Youth Symphony engage with students throughout Chicago.

So what’s been going on you ask?

Well in case you missed it, there were performances of my music all around the country this spring. The Grant Street String Quartet did a wonderful performance of my String Quartet No. 2 in a salon series. I have now been commissioned to write a piece for the salon series in 2018. Don’t worry, more news will come out about that.

My filmscore to “Life” by Nick Bolton was well received in Chicago and Brooklyn. Check it out below!

Sound of Silent Film Chicago 2017 – “Life” from ACM on Vimeo.

 

I have also been the producer and composer for a new podcast called “She the People”, check it out!

 

 

 

More to come soon.

Vanished

My last post was February of 2016, so where have I been?

Tim Corpus is a composer with a genuine lyric impulse. He writes music that is at the same time challenging and appealing – which should be the ideal of any composer. He has a wonderful ear for sound and for shape. This is a composer with a real and important voice.
Henry Fogel – Dean, Chicago College of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University

Unfortunately, not on vacation. This summer was incredibly busy as I’ve been settling in to my new position of General Manager for the Hyde Park Youth Symphony. HPYS is a 62 year old non-profit based in Hyde Park that has gone through many changes in the last few years. It’s been an exciting, albeit busy time settling into my new position, but I’m very excited about what the organization has to offer. We rehearse and perform in the David & Reva Logan Center for the Arts, so you can’t beat that. One of the reasons I took this position was because of the challenge ahead. This is an organization with a lot to offer but has been through many ups and downs over the past 60 years. It’s exciting to be able to walk in a make change happen. I am finding that I get very bored when I work and work and see no change. This organization is on the rise and it’s so exciting to see the development. I’ve rebuilt a website for the group as well as many other managerial duties. Check out the site, I think I did a pretty OK job.

I am continuing my work with the Northwest Indiana Symphony as Education Coordinator. This has also been intensely busy as I’m planning and organizing our annual education concert. Who knew that working out the logistics of 6000 kids attending a concert was difficult? I also spent time building a study guide for the education concert. Check it out!

Back in June the Chicago College of Performing Arts Percussion Ensemble, along with Ed Harrison (Lyric Opera) recorded my Concerto for Timpani. It was a fun experience, but took a lot of time in editing. I am excited to announce that it’s finished and ready to roll out. I’ll be releasing a clip of the recording soon!13188083_269469320058412_139055186_n

explore-indiana

 

Meanwhile, in August I started my 5th season as director of the Loyola University Drumline. We had an exciting camp and are looking forward to a very strong season. We even have a website now!

All of this work was mixed on top of my work composing ‘Firework’, a new Wind Ensemble work, for the Chicago College of Performing Arts. The world premiere is set for September 29, 7:30pm. The work is a short fanfare-like work that will kick off the concert. Fast, short and sweet, ‘Firework’is a thrill-ride of explosions and color.

The last news is there will be a few performances of my works in Minnesota in the upcoming months. On November 21st the St. Katherine’s University String Orchestra will be performing Breath. See you there!

 

Finding the Time

February=busy.

This month I have spent 4 weeks spread across five different jobs. I was doing production for the Chinese Fine Arts Society, Education Coordinator for the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra, composing the parts for the concerto for CCPA Percussion Ensemble, performing with the CCPA Wind Ensemble and running the drumline at Loyola University Chicago. I’m a bit exhausted. It was, however, tons of fun. I find that I am a very lucky person to get to live the life I do. It is, at times, tense and frustrating, but it is also never boring and full of excitement. I have enjoyed every moment of this crazy life of freelancing.

Did you see the feature of my new snare drum solo Whispers by the Percussive Arts Society?

RS

Now, as things start to wind down, I’m gearing up for my next projects. Tonight is the final men’s basketball game of the season for the Loyola Ramblers. It has been an exciting season and tonight is the home closer against Wichita State. It’s going to be a crazy game. I always enjoy this game because it brings the largest audience. A packed house really makes the job more fun. In addition to the game, I am graduating four seniors. It’s really crazy to me that I have worked at LUC for four years and I’m lucky to have had such awesome students to work with. It will be sad to see them go, but I know they have promising careers ahead.

The rehearsals for the concerto start tonight for me. I will be conducting it, don’t worry, I’ll practice. It’s a bit complex and I’m excited that I took the chance to experiment with the music. I decided to go with something easier on the audience tonally, but complex for the ensemble. I also thought it would be interesting for me to force myself to work within a certain form. I decided to work with a sort of Rondo form, inserting cadenzas where I please. I’m excited to watch it grow in rehearsals, I’ll keep you updated. Rehearsals also start this week for the timpani quartet, currently titled Live Together, Die Alone. A little homage to LOST. This will be premiered on the same evening as the concerto, April 20, 2016.

I am excited to have been asked to compose for the Access Contemporary Music Sounds of Silent Films Festival. As you may know, film music has always been a passion of mine and I’m very excited about this project. The wonderful Palomar Ensemble, led by Francesco Milioto, will be performing the music. This event is amazing, buy your tickets early. I will be scoring a little romantic-comedy film. It’s going to be an interesting challenge, but it will be fun to develop the characters with no dialog.

There are additional performances coming up, including a premiere by members of the Temporal Brass Quintet. The Chicago premiere of Adagio for Those Who Need It will be on April 9, 2016 with Joe Pascarello and the world premiere of Kill the Oceans! will be on April 20, 2016 (before the concerto) by Derek Fitting and Eric Murphy.

Of course there is the big exciting concert at Carnegie Hall coming up. I leave for NYC soon, can’t wait to get back there. This is a dream come true to hear my own music at Carnegie Hall. Be sure to attend the Chicago performance of Breath on May 25th!

For now, stay warm everyone, beware that snow on its way.

A Change of Scenery

Today it’s warm again. As a Chicagoan I know that I should enjoy and appreciate good weather because here seasons change. So today I headed over to local café Spoke & Bird. It’s a favorite local spot of mine featuring a great atmosphere and delicious coffee.

I realized today that I’ve spent everyday working in my home studio for a while. It was time to get out, write somewhere else…think somewhere else. So here I am writing from the courtyard of Spoke & Bird.

This fall has been going by quickly. Do I say that in every post? Time just seems to speed up. “Three Pieces for Five Timpani” premiered on September 27th at Ganz Hall. Unfortunately I had to miss the world premiere, but I did get to enjoy the weather and the water in Monterey, CA. Upon my return I heard nothing but praise for Ed Harrison’s performance of my solos. In fact, there is a recording of the solos available on Soundcloud now.

Around the beginning of September I was selected to compose a snare drum solo for intermediate level. This solo, titled “Whispers”, will be published in the Percussive Arts Society publication, Rhythm! Scene. You will be able to find it in February 2016. Working on this project was very inspiring and turned into a new book of snare drum solos called “The Seven Etudes I Met In Music Scool.” The book features solos ranging from intermediate to advanced. The solos are written to be melodic and musical. Each one has it’s own style and is dedicated to a percussionist I met during my CCPA years. You’ll be able to find the whole book for sale in early 2016.

The New American Timpani project has continued to grow. I will be guest lecturing on Timpani Orchestration at colleges around Illinois, including Illinois State University, Elmhurst College. I’m really excited to share my research and help composers better understand timpani. The quartet and the concerto are also coming along. I’ll have a post about each of them this winter.

I’ll be at PASIC 2015 in San Antonio in a few weeks. I will have a few pieces with me for sale, including the new timpani solos.

Next up is the world premiere of “Kill the Oceans!” by members of the Temporal Brass Quintet. This will happen in early December. The group is doing a killer job on the piece. It’s a piece with mystery and heroism with a very haunting twist. This reflects how fragile our oceans are. I guess it had been a while since I wrote something overly dark. Haha.

This weather is truly delightful. I encourage you all to head out and enjoy the day. I’m gonna head back in to he studio to write some more stuff then take Lance to the dog park. Sometimes I feel bad about spending time outside without him, especially when I know how he loves it like 10x more than me.

Where the time went

From the second week of July through last weekend, I have been traveling almost every week. This has been a crazy summer. It was a mix of family emergencies and fun vacations. Also included in there was a whole week I was out sick due to eczema (Same reason I’m home sick today). This wasn’t the summer I had intended. I feel like I lost some time that I need to make up for.

Here we are in September, rushing back into a full academic year. It’s raining and feeling more and more like fall. Fall in Chicago is wonderful. It’s a beautiful temperature with a good vibe to it. This fall is very booked with performances. In addition to the world premiere of “Three Pieces for Five Timpani” from the New American Timpani, there will be a premiere by Temporal Brass Quintet and a new orchestral work.

Lately I’ve spent a lot of time working on the timpani project. I will be guest lecturing at universities in Illinois, presenting on orchestration techniques with the timpani. Ed Harrison has done a terrific job on the timpani solos and will be premiering them on September 27, 2015 in Ganz Hall – Chicago, IL. The concert will be at 5:00pm and unfortunately I’ll be across the country in San Francisco. So go see the performance for me!

I will also be missing the performance of “Chicago Style” on November 13, 2015 by Kaytie Faries at Loyola University. I’ll be working with the Composer’s Committee at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in San Antonio, TX. I’ve never been to San Antonio and I’m pretty excited to attend the conference and explore the town.

The New American Timpani project has been a treat to work on. Composing music for a world-class performer is really a dream come true. Ed’s understanding of the timpani and ability as a musician has made it easy to compose timpani solos. Timpani music isn’t everyone’s go-to easy listening. It’s difficult to compose something that is both melodic and rhythmically entertaining on timpani. As a composer, I decided to aim for a piece that was exciting to listen to – fun and engaging. I think that’s why I was really looking forward to this project. The timpani have always been one of my favorite instruments to play and they’re also some of the most difficult to compose for. The following is page 1 from the first solo. This movement feels like rock music. It’s loud, fast and the rhythm falls more towards the back-beat.

Solo 1_1

The other solos have similar use of center and normal timpani playing, but each has an individual style.

The percussion quartet will be premiered by my percussion quartet in April 2016. This will be a fun performance as the piece has a lot of choreography in it. In the meantime, I’m continuing to compose and book performances. If you’re looking for newer music of mine to listen to, head over to www.audiojungle.com/user/timcorpus

Why We Work

Early this week Heather became tasked with putting together a video for University of Chicago. She had to put together a slideshow with some interviews and needed some background music. Originally she was going to use the music from my Breastfeeding USA promotion. I thought to myself,

this is a good chance to get outside my typical workspace and try something different.

She needed something pop and happy sounding. Mommy & Me is pretty sappy sounding, that is its purpose.

So I decided to take on this project and bring out all my MIDI gear. I set up the Casio Privia Keyboard, the AKAI LPD8 and loaded up Reaper. This was a lot of fun to play around with. It’s so much fun to make new sounds and edit the FX. Thankfully there are tons of Reaper plugins.

Simple background music, that was the goal. I started with a super simple melody and harmony and added to it from there. Pop can be really good when there is good counterpoint. In pop there tends to be too much of a reliance on punching chords, deep bass and really no substance at all. In order to combat that, I worked pretty methodically. With each instrument (there are 16 tracks) I selected a very specific quality of sound. The timbres really needed to mix well. That’s just good orchestration sense, using good mixtures of timbres.

I use the piano because it has tendencies to be an instrument attached to the idea of “memories” and this is background music to a photo slideshow.

The melody sounds pretty hopeful. The first presentation of the piano is fast movement arpeggiating a chord. This is the question. After this point the piece becomes more hopeful and excited. I used a great synth to make that sighing/singing instrument. The next key was good sounding percussion. I really wanted to use electronic sounding drums minimally. I found a couple of great drum plug ins and edited the hell out of them until they sounded close to the acoustic sound I wanted. I also did my best to really play out the drums. I didn’t want them to sound ridiculous and impossible. This is a beat that I would totally play in a band, it sounds natural and exciting.

Altogether this was a really fun project to work on. There may still be some balancing issues, but I’m trying to be less of a perfectionist and just happy with what I do. It’s been a really long and stressful week, so it was nice to work on a simple and happy project. So please dance along and happy Friday.

The time is takes to grow

A s the weather gets warmer, I like to practice outside. It’s nice to stand out in the warm breeze and just play drums.

This week I started a new practice schedule. I’ve been spending so much time sitting and composing, my chops are slowing down. So I’m back in to a rigorous routine. I’ve been really focusing on my roll. The classical roll has always come easily to me, the marching “diddle” roll has always been a bit harder. In order to strengthen my timing and my muscles I’ve been spending time on some warm-ups.

8-8-16

8816

This version of 8ths, is what we at Loyola call 8-8-16. It’s simply 8 on each hand, then 16 on a hand then alternate. I find that 16 on a hand, especially at high tempos, is a really good chop builder.

Alternator

alternator
Alternator is a short rhythm I started using a lot when I lived in Connecticut. This has been great to loosen up my hands during a warm up and really even out my left and right hand. I’m always interested in having balance between my left and right hand. Again, it’s great for the hands at high tempos. Put in at least an hour a day on these chop building exercises and you’re sure to see a difference.

Both of these warm-ups requires focus to stay with the metronome and avoiding tension in the arms/wrists.

The last warm-up I’ve been spending a lot of time on is Paradiddle 1.0.

Paradiddle 1.0

pdd

Paradiddle exercises are great for your roll. Paradiddles help you gain control with switching between single notes and doubles. Paradiddles at a high tempo should cost only 2 strokes. 1 in the left and 1 in the right. The left stroke should bounce to achieve the last 2 notes.

There are a lot of great exercises out there, these are just a few that I’ve written and enjoy working on. All of this work is to see a difference. I’m working on seeing a difference in my comfort and stability in playing.

Go check out the Percussive Arts Society and Vic Firth websites for more great warm-ups.

Vic-firth-logoPercussive-Arts-Society

Does Size Really Matter?

Does Size Really Matter?

W hile I was in Ireland a week ago, I had the honor of speaking to composition students at the Dublin Institute of Technology Conservatory of Music & Theatre. It was a great chance to spend two hours talking about myself.

“It’s kind of odd making a powerpoint presentation about yourself,” I opened to absolutely no laughs or even smiles.

I guess starting off with a joke didn’t work afterall. It really was an honor though. It was fun to tell my story and how I approach composing. I’m always interested in how others work and (perhaps selfishly) I enjoyed discussing the music that I’ve been so lucky to write.

I presented a number of different pieces, including my masters thesis, First Flight. At approximately 13 minutes in length, First Flight was my first successful wind ensemble work. And at 13 minutes in length, it was 47 minutes shorter than the theses written by everyone sitting in front of me. “We have a requirement of at least one hour of music.”

One hour of music. That’s four times the size of my thesis. So that should mean 60 minutes of intelligent, artistic and quality music, right? This lead me to the question, does size really matter?

Ok, well if you know me you know I love Mahler. He’s the king of long-winded composition. Even when I speak of my love for Mahler, I think of specific moments I love. In the monumental 3rd symphony (being honest here), I love the final movement. That’s 30 minutes, not an hour, I could care less about the “bing, bong” part. I love all of the 10th Symphony, but technically the Adagio was the only movement finished. Ok ok ok, I love the 9th Symphony. The opening is so lush and by the time you get to the end it’s just so magical…by the time you get to the end.

Ok, let’s put Mahler to the side for a moment. What music do I love that takes at least 60 minutes to get through? Planets? Wagner? Symphonies? Daphnis & Chloe? No, I love the moments more: Jupiter, finale of Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5 and obviously Lever le jour, obviously. I would say an opera or musical doesn’t count in this instance because there are so many small sections that make up the whole.

Now some of you will say, “Well Tim, it takes going through the full hour long piece to recognize the importance of the moments.” Yes, you’re right. I think, or are you?

Let’s avoid discussion of how we’re “all ADHD” and can’t focus for an hour of music. My question is should we?

Remember that the requirement is for a composition to be at least 60 minutes in length. Can a composer write a concise and fully intelligent piece in 60 minutes? Yes, we’ve seen it in the past, (there are many great long works) but can the composer do it without meandering all over the place?

Do composers need to be boasting about how big their composition is, or should we celebrate the ones with less girth that get the job done?

Arrivals

After a long but amazing trip. I have arrived back in Chicago.

Dublin, Ireland was an amazing town. I had the honor of speaking at the DIT Conservatory of Music & Theater for the composition students. It was great to share my music and ideas about my compositional process. DIT_Presentation

I’m so pleased to have had that opportunity. On April 26th the Concorde Ensemble performed Bird in Space. You can hear the performance below. Concorde Ensemble is an amazing organization. Currently in it’s 39th year, Concorde Ensemble is the oldest new music ensemble in Ireland. It was an honor to work with the amazing Jane O’Leary. She is a fearless champion of new music. Please check out her music.
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Dublin is a beautiful place. It was great to wander through the city and explore the history and great food. Between the food and the sites I had the great opportunity to meet and visit with local composers. One of the coolest features of the Irish new music scene is the Contemporary Music Centre of Ireland. The CMC is amazing. They feature living composers and also have scores on hand. They promote music from the country and also make it readily available to performers. This is a genius idea. America really needs to get moving in having an open contemporary library like this to provide scores at reasonable rates to performers.

Now that I’m back and adjusted to Chicago time, I’m back to work with Yorkville Middle School. The world premier of Voyager will take place on May 14th with a follow up concert on May 15th. I’ll post more details about the concert but you can find most of the information in the events section.

Life as a full-time composer is very busy. The fundraiser through 3Arts has been moving incredibly well. In the first 4 days we raised 14% of the total funds! There’s still more to go, but I’m really excited about where this project is going. If you haven’t watched the video yet, please go check it out.

 

DANIIL TRIFONOV AND SEMYONN BYCHKOV WITH THE CHICAGO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

On Thursday evening, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra opened a program of all Russian music featuring the young Daniil Trifonov on piano. Lead by Maestro Semyonn Bychkov, this concert includes Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp Minor, Op. 1 and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 8 in C Minor, Op. 65. A very heavy concert, but this program comprises the composer’s lesser known, or perhaps middle-child-syndrome compositions. Rachmaninov’s piano concerto, for example, was started in 1890 at the impressive age of 17 and wasn’t completed until 1917, after his third piano concerto. These two works give a glimpse of a budding composer with unmatched command of the piano (Rachmaninov) and a tortured composer trapped in a time of war (Shostakovich).

Pianist Daniil Trifonov is thrilling to watch, he showed complete command over Rachmaninov’s incredibly full score. His solo moments during the second movement were played so softly, you could see the audience lean in. His performance was so beloved that after three standing ovations, the young virtuoso performed a solo encore. While holding his final chord, the room fell to silence. This was shattered by an eruption of cheers from the audience.

This Russian program is both easy and challenging for the concert goer. Symphony No. 8 clocks in just over an hour in length. But amidst all of the explosive passion, Maestro Bychkov pulls out the tender threads of the symphony’s shattered optimism. This symphony also features many solo moments where the audience hears the individual talent of its symphony members.

The series continues on Friday, April 17 at 1:30pm, Saturday, April 18 at 8:00pm and Tuesday, April 21 at 7:30pm. Tickets are available at www.cso.org.

Photos by Todd Rosenberg.