September 2012 Newsletter

For the past two years I’ve been involved in teaching and developing curriculum for New England Conservatory’s Department of Entrepreneurial Musicianship. In undergraduate classes and graduate seminars I help young musicians lay the groundwork for not just a musical career, but a life in music.

One of the things about teaching is that you tend to learn at least as much as your students do. The conversations we have in class challenge me to think about my own professional and personal choices, past and present. We cover all kinds of ground from career visioning and planning, to time management, personal finances, self-presentation, project funding, creative renewal and self-promotion.

About that last item: what comes up again and again is the importance of storytelling. We talk about uncovering the stories in our musical lives, and how to connect those stories with communities, the media, and our audiences. And we talk a lot about how to overcome the primary fear of the reluctant self-promoter: how to sell your story with sounding like a d-bag (to use a technical term).

Here’s another thing about teaching. Hearing yourself give the same message over and over again has the effect of tuning you in to your own “do as I say and not as I do”-ness. I urge my students to find their own authentic voices, and to be unashamed to tell their own stories. The purpose of music, after all, is to connect us with our selves, and ourselves with others. But I had to admit that for as much as I’ve been telling my students to tell their stories, I’ve been strikingly silent these past few months.

So in the spirit of September, new beginnings and freshly sharpened pencils, I’m putting my money where my mouth is, and you’re reading the first of 12 monthly newsletters. Read on to find out about my new recording with Anthony Coleman and Ted Reichman, and our monthly residency at Boston’s Lily Pad (starting this Wednesday, September 5). I’ve included a forecast of events for NEC’s year-long Contemporary Improvisation 40th Anniversary celebration, and a run-down of upcoming events.

If you’d like to unsubscribe, please follow the link at the end of this message. But I hope you’ll read on today and all through the year.



Over the past few years I’ve been collaborating with fellow faculty members Ted Reichman (acordion) and Anthony Coleman (piano) on various one-off contributions to our department’s themed concerts. This summer, we consolidated the products of these collaborations by going into the most glorious recording studio, NEC’s own National Historic Landmark, Jordan Hall.

Together, we’ve built a repertoire that’s a happy place where the music of Christian Wolff, Duke Ellington, The Sound of Music and Gustav Mahler live side by side with our own original compositions. Funded in part by a Faculty Professional Development Grant from New England Conservatory, look for a release in 2013. Tour dates are in the works for March 2013 in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore.


This year, Anthony, Ted and I will be performing the first Wednesday of every month at 9 PM at the Lily Pad in Cambridge, MA as part of Gill Aharon’s “Mid Week Session” series. From time to time, we’ll be joined by special guests. We begin our residency this Wednesday, September 5.


This year marks the 40th Anniversary of the Contemporary Improvisation program. A comprehensive program of performannces, workshops, and other events have been planned for Boston and New York. I’ll be taking part in number of these, including the following:

  • February 19: Contemporary Improvisation Meets the Third Stream, a concert co-curated by Tanya Kalmanovitch and Gunther Schuller, Jordan Hall, Boston.
  • March 10: Tanya Kalmanovitch Faculty Recital featuring works by Stravinsky, Bach, Shostakovich and the Kalmanovitch Reichman Coleman Trio, Jordan Hall, Boston.
  • March 21: Contemporary Improvisation Night curated by Anthony Coleman, Barbes, Brooklyn.