Beff and I taught at Cortona Sessions in the summer of 2016, and boy was it hot, and boy was our room and all of our composer sessions hot.
We appreciated that one of the features of the festival was a day off to visit Florence, with all train fares covered, and another day off to tour the Brunello region. Mike Kirkendoll, who is in charge, is a wine buff, and he has friends in and around Montalcino. Heck, the second winery we went to gave us lunch and let us use their pool.
This is the view from the second winery. Those are all Brunello grapes.
And we were more or less on our own for non-breakfast meals, and getting stuff in Cortona was fun (despite the very steep and long walk into town), and there were so many amazing restaurants there for dinner.
I was put in charge of one of the two-hour group sessions for the enrolled composers, and I decided to give a composer career lecture, using all the facets of composer life that were germane as far as I could tell. So I compiled some notes about what occurred to me as important, and I was ready to riff on them to fill up the time — though clearly what I had to talk about could take up two hours or a whole semester, or anything in between. I was ready for it, with the topics neatly laid out on my iPhone.
Then, of course, Mike decided to usurp an hour of the session to talk about piano writing to the composers. It didn't bother me that he cited me a lot as having done some good piano writing, and I had scores and recordings to broadcast to them of the stuff he brought up (there was a mini USB video projector available, and even given the hotness of the room, it seemed strangely lo-fi). But that wasn't why I was there.
So in the one hour now available to me, I went through the topics pretty fast, not getting to all of them, and I didn't quite do my job that day. Except for broadcasting pdfs of my own music. Which, now that I think of it, wasn't my job.
I have posted my notes on the book of face and twitter occasionally, getting plenty of comments and questions. I have still not had the opportunity to do this presentation completely and in the time for which it was designed. Plus, I have added to it over the years. I was at Yaddo with Marilyn Chin in fall 2017, and we got into some deep conversations about how much our careers were shaped less on what our training prepared us for, and moreso on things that happened serendipitously. We even exchanged long e-mails noting some nice things that happened to us professionally and tracing all the serendipity that led to those things. So I added serendipity as one of the topics. I don't know exactly how to talk about career serendipity at this point, but if I am ever asked to give this talk, I'll try to figure it out.
Here's the current state of my notes, subject to more change as it occurs to me. I called it Iron Composer because I used a topic from a fun exercise at Cortona Sessions and typed over it all.
The two most important points, though, open and close the presentation.