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Creative Score Study

Creative score study

Webinar Series by Face the Music's David Bloom

Tuesdays & Thursdays | 5–6 pm EDT | July 14 – August 11
For teens & adults | For music enthusiasts, students, educators, & professionals 

Series Sessions feature works by Florence Price, Aakash Mittal, Caroline Shaw, Michael Gordon, Angélica Negrón, Courtney Bryan, Julius Eastman, and Andrew Norman.

Presented by Kaufman Music Center, Creative Score Study is a webinar series offering a fresh perspective on score study as a creative and holistic practice. In addition to illuminating a new score study approach, this series offers a deep dive into works from the large ensemble repertoire that have yet to be discussed or performed widely. Conductor David Bloom hosts the series and will be joined in each session by guest experts, including conductors and soloists who have performed the selected works as well as the composers themselves. Together they will engage in detailed discussion of the scores, the contexts of their creation, and how conductors can approach score study with creativity and integrity. Participants will play an important role in the sessions with opportunities to ask questions of the panelists, shape discussions, and build community around this incredible music.


Creative score study series sessions

$10 per Session

For those interested in individual events, tickets are available for each session below.

$65 for a Series Subscription

Series Subscription holders may attend any and all Creative Score Study events as they wish.

Purchase a Series Subscription


Symphony No. 3 in C Minor (1940): I. Andante — Allegro; and III. Juba: Allegro
Featuring Guest Artists: Apo Hsu, Kyle Gann 

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Florence Price became the first woman of color whose music was performed by a major American orchestra when the Chicago Symphony performed her First Symphony in 1933, but her music was otherwise woefully underappreciated during her lifetime and has remained a rarity on stages since. Among the underperformed works in her catalogue is her Symphony No. 3 in C Minor, and in this webinar, we explore the immense emotional depths of the first movement as well as the joyful dance rhythms of the third movement.

The guest experts for this session are conductor Apo Hsu, who led the Women’s Philharmonic in the first-ever recording of Price’s Third Symphony during her tenure as Artistic Director, and composer and musicologist Kyle Gann, who wrote an extensive analysis of the work as part of his ongoing series on the American symphony. Join the conversation to take part in the current renaissance Florence Price’s inimitable music and to learn a new creative approach to score study.


Street Music and Pooja
Featuring Guest Artists: Aakash Mittal, Vasudevan Panicker

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Composer Aakash Mittal’s music evokes a deep sense of place, ranging from the American west to the streets of Kolkata. His works Street Music and Pooja (which translates from the Hindi as “prayer”) are epic and beautiful works for jazz big band with electronics, complex rhythmic structures, and colorful harmonies. In this session, we will discuss with special attention the extensive improvisation in both works and the unique role of the conductor in leading and facilitating improvisation.

Also a conductor, saxophonist, improviser, and longtime Face the Music coach, Mittal joins as a guest. To introduce the music, we will hear a performance of the works by Kaufman Music Center’s teenage new music ensemble Face the Music, conducted by the ensemble’s erstwhile Director Vasu Panicker, who will also be a guest. Join the conversation to explore the nexus of conducting and improvisation.


Entr'acte (string orchestra version; 2011, arr. 2014)
Featuring Guest Artist: Caroline Shaw

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Before Caroline Shaw became the youngest composer ever to win the Pulitzer Prize, her piece Entr’acte started its life as a string quartet inspired by the smallest detail in the minuet of a Haydn quartet. In this session, we delve into the string orchestra arrangement of Entr’acte, considering the sounds, structure, and performance practice with a lens every bit as detailed as the work itself.

The composer, herself an accomplished violinist (and vocalist to boot), joins as a guest. Just as the Haydn was the key that unlocked Shaw’s astounding creativity, her piece will be the key to unlock a creative approach to score study. Join the conversation to make that creative connection in your own practice.


Face the Music Special Session – FREE
Featuring Guest Host: Whitney George

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Whitney George’s music traverses the affective terrain between tragedy and ecstasy, fragility and strength, bringing together romantically delicate intimacy and the spectacular darkness of the macabre. Her operas, staged multimedia works, and chamber music have had both international and domestic premieres. George is the artistic director and conductor of The Curiosity Cabinet, and she teaches at the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music, lectures outside of the university with ThinkOlio, works at the Hitchcock Institute of American Studies, and is a coach with Kaufman Music Center's Face the Music program.


Acquanetta (2005, rev. 2017)
Featuring Guest Artists: Michael Gordon, Rebecca Hargrove

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In Acquanetta, Composer Michael Gordon and librettist Deborah Artman examine the fascinating life and work of 1940’s B-horror film star known only as “Acquanetta.” In this session, we will take a deep dive into the music of the opening scene, which sets the stage firmly in the world of campy, spine-chilling horror films, as well as the opera’s second scene, which offers a haunting meditation on how Acquanetta’s identity was erased, transformed, and molded for the public eye by the powerful forces of Hollywood.

Composer and Bang on a Can co-founder Michael Gordon joins as a guest along with soprano Rebecca Hargrove, who sang the opera’s title role in the most recent production at Bard SummerScape, a production which host David Bloom conducted. Join the conversation to discover an approach to the challenges and opportunities of amplified opera and the role of the conductor as a storyteller in new opera.


There Once Was (2011); Rise from Chorus of the Forest (2019)
Featuring Guest Artists: Angélica Negrón, Vince Peterson

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Angélica Negrón is a composer and multi-instrumentalist who has written for every imaginable medium, including music for orchestras, accordions, the operatic stage, robots, choirs, and even plants. Her choral music presents particularly exciting narrative and musical possibilities, especially her works There Once Was and Chorus of the Forest. The latter was written as an installation at New York Botanical Gardens in which multiple choirs and a lattice of interconnected speakers created a kinetic experience of musical and natural beauty.

The composer joins as a guest along with conductor Vince Peterson, who premiered both of these works with Choral Chameleon, of which he is Founding Artistic Director. Peterson also devised a unique shadow play performance to accompany Negrón’s There Once Was. Join the conversation about the deeply creative score study necessary to create the kind of memorable experiences that Choral Chameleon made with these two works.


Yet Unheard (chamber version; 2016, arr. 2017)
Featuring Guest Artists: Courtney Bryan, Helga Davis

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Created by composer Courtney Bryan and poet Sharan Strange, Yet Unheard is a deeply moving choral and symphonic work that honors the life and mourns the death of Sandra Bland. The solo vocal part was written for and with vocalist Helga Davis, who sings to the audience in Bland's voice, urging us to relive the circumstances of her death and to seek answers to painful questions too long unasked. Among the questions in Strange’s text is, “How do we imagine something different, that centers Black people, that sees them in the future?”

Courtney Bryan and Helga Davis both join as special guests on this session, and to introduce the piece, we will hear a performance of the work by Kaufman Music Center’s teenage new music ensemble Face the Music, featuring Helga Davis and conducted by series host David Bloom. Join the conversation to study this remarkable work and to participate in a much larger conversation of how classical music can be an agent of social change.


Stay On It (1973)
Featuring Guest Artist: Paul Pinto

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Julius Eastman was a composer and vocalist whose influence on music has been little recognized, but his work pioneered bringing idioms of popular music into art music, creating music that makes strong political statements, and inviting improvisation into carefully constructed musical arcs. Among the works he performed the most in his early career in the 1970’s was Stay On It, a work as emotionally far-reaching as the possibilities its flexible form and open instrumentation provide. The original score materials Eastman used for the piece have been lost, but recent performances of the piece have been facilitated with transcriptions of a recording that Eastman’s ensemble made.

Among the musicians to create performing versions of Stay On It is Paul Pinto, who, like Eastman, is an accomplished composer and vocalist. As a guest on this session, Pinto will provide an important perspective on recreating both the specific sounds of the recording and the spontaneity of Eastman’s original concept. Join the conversation to explore the role of an ensemble leader in an open form work and how to bring such works into large ensemble settings.


Try (2011)
Featuring Guest Artist: Andrew Norman

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Andrew Norman, “the leading composer of his generation” (Los AngelesTimes), sets his labored compositional process to music in his intense and dramatic work Try, for a 15-player ensemble. With false-starts, mulligans, stumbles, and chaotic rewinds, this deftly constructed piece depicts its own creation, making it a fascinating piece to study.

Composer Andrew Norman, recently appointed to the faculty of the Juilliard School and the Debs Composer Chair at Carnegie Hall, joins as a guest. To introduce the piece, we will hear a performance of the work by Contemporaneous, conducted by series host David Bloom. Join this final conversation of the Creative Score Study series to discover the nexus between the creative processes of a composer and a performer.



Musicians age 12-18 are invited to audition for Face the Music. Fill out the online registration form HERE. Check out our free online info session.
Re-register (current students) or schedule an audition (new students) to join KMC's dynamic teen new music program for the 2020-21 school year. For info, email or call 212 501 3360. Do you know teen musicians who may be interested?