Nief-Norf Summer Festival 2017 Composer Fellow Experience

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I have just returned home after spending the last two weeks as a composer fellow at the 2017 nief-norf Summer Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee. I have known about this festival since 2014 when faculty from nief-norf were in residence at Northern Illinois University for our New Music Festival. After working with them that week, I knew that I had to find a way to attend their festival in the future. That opportunity finally happened this summer, and I am so grateful for what I experienced and learned. On top of composing a new piece that was premiered at the festival, I took lessons with faculty and residence composers, observed rehearsals, attended presentations/masterclasses/lectures, experienced 10 concerts in 14 days, and met some of the niefiest and norfiest people full of creative energy.

Here are a few major takeaways from this trip:

  1. A good improvisation is when you can hear the quietest person in the room (paraphrased from call-for-scores composer, Carolyn Chen)
  2. Rock music is an excellent form of inspiration and/or can even be used as a “backing track” when writing new thoughts (as heard from in-residence composer Nina C. Young)
  3. Music needs composers, performers, AND an audience in order to make a difference in the world (as heard from in-residence composer Marc Mellits)
  4. Wild, crazy, and incredibly inspiring things happen when you are surrounded by creative individuals for long periods of time
  5. Research should be taken as seriously for composers and performers in order for us to truly understand the work we do
  6. Music does not have to be complex for it to be important or influential
  7. Never forget about the joy and fun that music brings to people

Thank you to all the nief-norf faculty, staff, fellows, and members from the Society for Minimalist Music for a life-changing couple of weeks!

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