I'm sorry it's been so long since I've written. Life has been busy! Since returning from Ghana (see more below), I've been working towards the completion of my doctorate, teaching, raising my girls, and practicing a lot! I just thought I'd share some updates and some goals moving forward.
This summer I had an exciting couple months with concerts and engagements in NYC, France, and Ghana. In 2018 I was invited to join the US Guitar Orchestra in a special world premiere, of both the ensemble as well as several pieces, at Carnegie Hall with a 4-concert mini tour in France. It was a long week filled with great music! I had the chance to connect with old friends, play some awesome instruments, and perform in venues that just blew my mind. I am very fortunate to have been included in a group of world-class musicians.
The 2019 edition of the GNMF was just as incredible. Every year I feel lucky to have the opportunity to work with such awesome students and faculty, but when I tell you this year was great, I mean I walked away more inspired than I ever have. We had a slightly lower student attendance than normal, with around 25 students total, but the quality of both their playing and their learning was the highest I've seen it. The students loved every minute of the festival, in large thanks to the phenomenal faculty we had with us. One of the many highlights for me was sharing the stage with our students in a special performance of Ghana's first guitar concerto. Not only did everyone sound great, but the performance was so well received that multiple University of Ghana faculty and National Symphony members asked for more of these kind of performances in the future. I fully believe that 2019 was a major turning point in the future of the GNMF.
Personally, I've been working on finishing my dissertation in order to graduate sooner rather than later. It's been a long ride but here we are, almost finished. I've completed the document and am now working on the final edits. If you don't already know, I'm writing an ethnography of the Ghanaian seperewa and seperewa musician. I'll post it here once I'm finished for anyone interested. Accompanying the written paper are two arrangements of seperewa music that I'll be playing on my lecture recital on December 9 (see my schedule page for more details if you're interested!). Going into this phase of my education, I thought the hardest part for me was the dissertation, I was way off... I guess I had done so much research at the beginning that the writing process was a breeze, it basically wrote itself. Of course, not without plenty of errors and much need for revision, but still not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. The hardest part by a long shot has been the arranging side of it. Seperewa music, for the most part, is so dense and rhythmically complex that I spent well over 30 hours just listening and transcribing a single track. Times that by two and add the actual arranging process and I finally have a couple arrangements I'm quite happy with. I'll share some scores to the downloads page for those of you who've subscribed.
I'm really excited for some upcoming performances that I'm planning. My newest program is a two part journey around the world and in time. The first half of the program is going to be a mix of classical repertory including Bach, Dyens, Dowland, Ponce, Turina, and Debussy and the second half is a collection traditional music from all over the world arranged for guitar (including seperewa and kora music of course).
I haven't finalized dates yet but be on the look out for concerts in your area. Including my favorite kind of venue, house concerts. (By the way, if you want to host a house concert just let me know). I'll also have a big announcement to share in the coming months, I can't wait to tell you about it!
I can't express how proud I am of my students. Over the last few months they've ALL stepped up to the plate when concerning their work ethic and dedication to music. They're winning competitions, acing exams, and improving dramatically. I've seen students graduate high school and succeed in college and I've seen students as young as 8 perform beautiful recitals. If you want to see what they're doing, head over to my instagram, @jbtaylorguitar, and check out my stories. I'll be keeping that updated regularly from here on.
Personally, I've been loving every minute of watching my girls grow. Brooke and I both agree that they're growing too fast but at the same time we feel like the luckiest people to have such awesome daughters. With the youngest now crawling all over the place, our house only lacks energy with they go to sleep, but I guess that's part of the job description. I also have to say how incredibly appreciative I am of my wife. She has sacrificed more than anyone knows to give me the chance to go to pursue a doctorate and develop a career in music. None of this would even be fathomable without her.
Anyway, there's the brief version of what I've been up to. Certain things have had to take a back seat while I finish my dissertation, but now that it's nearly complete I hope to be more consistent in my blog posts, performances, and social media presence. So, what kind of blog posts do you want to see? My last series was on practicing, more of that or something else? Say, entrepreneurship? Let me know what you want to read!
Until next time,