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Speed Composing for Orchestra

So I had this great idea that started as a dream.

What if, at the start of a concert, a composer were to get up in front of the crowd and take suggestions: a time signature; a tempo marking; a minor or major key; some featured instruments; maybe even a scene or situation to describe. Then the concert would begin with whatever works were programmed. Intermission. Second half. Then, finally at the very end, the composer bounds up to the stage with newly printed score and parts: a brand new piece has been written specifically for the audience while they have been enjoying the concert.

The orchestra premieres the piece by sight-reading the music, maybe playing it through a second time (if they feel so inclined).

Of course, I immediately wondered if I could actually pull it off. Could I write an orchestral piece in 2 hours? I gave it a try the next day.

The first piece I speed-composed didn’t make it to completion. Two hours go by awfully fast.

But I wrote six more pieces in the next six days, and each of those was pretty okay, I think. Here are the best ones out of the pieces I’ve speed-composed so far:

Horn Trio

November 26, 2017

Aground – Orchestra

January 8, 2017

Two Birds – Orchestra

December 23, 2016

Rain on the Promenade – Orchestra

December 22, 2016

His Final Dogfight – Orchestra

December 21, 2016

Hiking to the Top – Orchestra

December 20, 2016

…but I cannot feel love — a Robot’s lament – Orchestra

December 19, 2016

Now the wish is one day to do it in real life, with a real orchestra!