Posted in composition, COVID-19, creativity, Fathers, holidays, writing

Moving On….

Painting by Philip Froman

The painting above has no title. My father completed this when he was in his eighties, after taking up a brush for the first time in his seventies. If you look closely, and listen, you can almost hear the water crash against the cliffs, feel its force. Standing in direct contrast to this painting, is a lake scene he painted around the same time which conveys only silence and peace. Both represent the man he was, his reflections about his life, and acceptance of the choices he’d made.


For over a year I’ve been trying to sustain the appearance of writing, while not having any interest in writing. Other than the words on this blog, and the occasional letters to family and friends, I’ve produced nothing.

I can’t blame the virus, as tempting as it is. The ideas, and desire to shape them, started drying up long before COVID-19. It just took a year of solitude to accept it.


A composer friend suggested I should start composing again—tentatively, gently, as though he understood he was asking me to revisit a space I’d shuttered. I stopped composing after graduate school, for many of the same reasons I don’t write now.

I considered it briefly, grateful for the compliment, but then abandoned the idea. Sometimes we shutter spaces because they’ve become voids; and sometimes those voids become vacuums.


For the present, I will keep this site going. Information about books will remain, as will old posts, interviews, and guest posts. From time to time I might even recycle old material I think would be of interest, or entertain.


Wherever you are, please stay safe, be well, and care deeply for those you love. And thank you for reading and following.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Letter to a Young Composer


How do you find your voice?

When will you know it’s developed?

I’ve always thought of voice as a by-product, not a goal.  Joan Sutherland was not Beverly Sills. They were both coloraturas, but each woman’s unique sounds were a complex result of physiology, experience, training, intellect, and personality.  Likewise, Mozart and Haydn worked in similar media, during the same era, and admired each other’s work; but their voices were markedly different—unique and authentic to them.

Many writers and composers have actively searched for and attempted to cultivate a unique and authentic voice. Sometimes, along the way, they imitate; occasionally, they test, and generally, they explore. But the actual emergence of a voice that is unique and authentic often comes by surprise—a by-product of experience, training, intellect, personality, and, yes, physiology, too.

I thought about voice a lot, as a young composer trying to find my own, and found some encouragement in this written exchange between the composers David Maslanka and Michael Colgrass, published in the New York Times.

Perhaps some of what they said to each other will feel as valid for you as it did for for me….