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A classic poem takes a new (musical) flight


A dear friend of mine, who shall remain in anonymity, once showed me e.e. cummings’ i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart). As clichéd as it sounds, I loved it. In the course of this past semester, I enrolled in a composition class. In this class put my big boy pants, and I set this poem to music. It was an uphill battle (choosing the singers, rehearsal time) in short, a battle. I won the battle and the war! Here is the finished product, while not perfect, it is pretty darn close. I hope this a start of a new, complementary chapter in my life.

If you want to commission me for a choral piece, do not hesitate in doing so! Without further ado, i carry your heart with me (i carry it my heart).

Text:

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
Singers:

Sopranos:

Alison Huntley
Lydia Lewis
Mariah Chapdelaine
Elizabeth Peregrine

Altos:

Carolee Stark
Abiagil Landau
Jessica Moore
Jazmine Hamilton

Tenors:

Tyler Hast
Thomas Heise
Arturo Martinez
Eric Mohlis

Basses:

Johnnie Campbell
Ethan Q. Ivey
Jordan DePatis
Jack Dessent

José Clavell, conductor

Polar winds v. Tropic thunder


And so my winter break is coming to an end. Next Monday I start my second semester of graduate studies, where I shall immerse myself anew in music, music, and music (and the midwest weather). Between a musicology course in twentieth-century music to twentieth -century musical analysis, choral conducting, graduate musical composition, and ensembles. This semester will be challenging, but rewarding, I’m sure. Let’s see what this semester brings. Up until now I will be a part of the IMEA in Illinois, and there might be a slight (very slight) possibility that I can get enough funds to go to the ACDA convention this year. If I get the chance, it would be amazing. It’s still somewhat incredible and humbling coming back to the island and meet again my professors and peers. The pressure is still on when the hint, again, that I am the “new guinea pig” because before me nobody has done a Masters in Music, specially Choral Conducting. I just have to work harder this semester. As we say in the Choral Department (thanks to me) “If you try hard enough and believe in yourself…”

Ready? BREAK!


And so, Thanksgiving break is upon us in Western Illinois University. Now. If you’re a graduate student you realize that “break” is something that is found in mythology. As the semester starts to close you can observe graduate students with less hair, irritability, frustration and perfumed in desperation. Deadlines close in, projects and papers are due. First or Second drafts are received, in a nutshell lots of paperwork. Before you start eating that turkey, remember that:

  • The organ point does indeed mark the end of a phrase.
  • The first draft will always be the crappiest crap you have ever crapped. No worries, it can’t be that bad, right? RIGHT?!
  • When deadline approaches, you can see the graduate student drinking coffee and different types of alcohol. Remember you’ll sleep when you’re dead so, drink alcohol to get ideas, drink coffee to actually finish your ideas because WRITE CHILD! WRITE! THIS IS DUE!!! *please read capitalized words in the “THIS IS SPARTA” tone*
  • Remember to TRY and rest.
  • If you’re an avid coffee drinker, do NOT go a day without drinking it. You will crash. It will not be pretty.
  • Meet friends that are life family, it will make this passing week better.
  • If your advisor says that you can do certain things it’s because they can see something in you. I have found that if they actually say something, it’s because they mean it. As in:Me: So… about my paper. I know it sucks.
    Advisor: Jose. You’re paper does not completely suck. Remember it’s the first draft.
    Me: (thinking)Yeah, it kind of does. Well… I think it is that is the crappiest crap that has ever been crapped, but I think I can improve it by the final deadline.
    Advisor: Yes. It has much potential, and again your motivation and organizational skills are excellent so I am assured that you will work hard.
    Me: Yeah. I will. All I want to know is… does it has potential?
    Advisor: OF COURSE IT DOES! Your perspective in how Debussian style piano arrangements in comparison to a four voice harmony with polytonal perspective and how these mesh with pointillism and French Impressionism from the 19th century is very interesting. You only have to talk as if you’re talking to non-intelligent people. Aka: people who know nothing about your topic.
    Me: Ok. I just have to take the reader’s hand and take them on a journey (thinking of “I can show you the world” from Aladdin.)
    Advisor: Exactly

As you can see, my advisor is awesome. Also, I am just stressing myself too much (it has to be something in my genetics…). I just need to breathe, try to relax and do this. You know what world? CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

On the twelfth week of Grad School, my baton said to me…


On the twelfth week of Grad School, my baton said to me: ‘member all that’s happened to thee…

  1. I am stronger than I look, wiser than I know, and a hell lot a braver than most people I know.
  2. Sometimes slow and steady wins the race, sometimes it just means your dead.
  3. Show the ictus, my child, then they will rejoice in the Lamb…
  4. No matter how awesome you thing the idea for a section in your paper is, chances are you WILL NOT know how to put it into words, hence the frustration cycle begins.
  5. can work under pressure *dum dum dum duru dum dum*
  6. The number of scores/things you have to do for a specific week will be equivalent to the motivation you have in NOT doing it. This is multiplied by 9 for when you get your weekly breakdown.
  7. If I think I don’t have an Independent study class, maybe it will go away.
  8. And now I started to sing Meldelhson’s Octet
  9. with a rhapsody of Lully’s Laudate Domino
  10. You really know you love X musical period. In my case, Romantic music. Because let us SHOW YOU HOW MANY FEELINGS WE HAVE WITH THIS CHORD AND THESE DYNAMICS!
  11. You may have nightmares of losing your assistantship because of reasons…
  12. Realizing that you do want to be a Doctor in Music is epic.
  13. Bonding with fellow graduate students is cool.
  14. Sometimes having alone time is needed.
  15. Sometimes saying “NOPE. Not doing anything today!” is necessary. Be prepared for having a little meltdown the following day because you procrastinated. Notice how the graduate student comes back to his natural habitat, made out of choral scores, scholarly articles, and Doctor Who references. This scholarly igloo made out of responsibilities, will keep the graduate student (who’s not form the United States) warm from the upcoming winter.
  16. Practice, young Padawan, Practice.
  17. Christmas Carols are hard to memorize, but huge pieces of Masterpieces can be memorize in a one, a two, a three, let’s go!
  18. Everything is a song cue.
  19. Even though I may not notice it, I am getting better.
  20. Stop being a perfectionist. (Easier said than done).
  21. To every family member, when your son/brother/sister/sibling says he/she want to go to Graduate School, give them a crockpot.
  22. Crockpots are good for pianists.
  23. No matter how much you try… the Ole will never vanish. It is called HERITAGE. Sorry.
  24. Having a tour, a paper due, and a presentation on the same day will make you crazy, but… it will make a Man out of you. *cue Mulan music*
  25. Yes. This post may not be very coherent. Sorry. This graduate student hasn’t slept in a while.
  26. You will start to lose count on how many coffee cups or caffeinated beverages you drink in a day.
  27. There is power in numbers. For example, let’s count how many scores you have to give a graduate student so that he/she can cower in fear (and be more nerdy than before).
  28. When your first undergrad mentor is recognized by your hometown, it is totally acceptable for you to Skype with a fellow friend, and for her to basically go everywhere so that you can talk to everyone. Including your three mentors from undergrad, more than 15 choristers, more than 5 teachers, and so much more.
  29. Going to Chicago for Thanksgiving, makes this guy very excited.
  30. Hoping that when this degree is over, I will have made life-long friends and colleagues.
  31. Knowing that when I finish this degree, I’ll be even better and stronger that I was gives me hope for my career.

Write, though your hands are aching


This week is going to be a very hectic week for me. These past weeks have been ok, but every single thing that occurred, was in preparation for this week. In this week, I am going on tour with the Western Illinois University Singers  tomorrow (Monday), Tuesday and Wednesday. For this tour, whom my very awesome peer gracefully arranged, we are visiting parts of Illinois and Iowa. This is exciting because I will get a first hand experience in going (for the first time) to a High School in the United States, and can truly start comparing the organization, curriculum, and musicality of this system to the ones I had.

Nevertheless, this week is also very demanding for I have two big projects to hand in. I have to due a presentation on Pergolesi’s The Magnificat and hand in my first draft of “The French Smuggler: FrenchInspiration in Henk Badings Trois Chansons Bretonnes “. Up until what I have written now for both things, I don’t really like, because it feels sloppy and not as polished as I would like, but it is a first draft. Now, the “problem” is finding the time (and space) so that I can work during tour. It will probably happen after we finish every night, which will be exhausting, but as Chris Martin wrote “Nobody said it would be easy.” Something that is funny? I’m actually taking a break from working today and continue to write in the form of this blog entry. I believe that I have been fully emerged into the Academia life. Maybe other graduate students around the world do the same? Maybe I am the only person who is somewhat crazy and is doing this? Maybe. Maybe not.

All that I know is that I have to keep writing until I can’t write anymore. Just keep swimming!

The ground, the occult, and the savior.


Wow… it’s been more than 10 days since I’ve updated from the grad school tag. Grad school is… still intensive. Not as intensive as before, ’cause I am getting the hang of it, but intense nonetheless. At least, I am getting better in my conducting, in internalizing this harmonic system, and getting to be “myself” in front of the choir. Things I need to finally get into my head…

  • nothing will be perfect or go as you think it will.
  • Just like Wagner stated in his article “Art takes time”
  • nothing will change in a day
  • Keep practising, done? Again.
  • I’m here for a reason
  • I am good at what I do and I should just stop self doubting
  • If the University gave a fall break, it’s because it’s NECESARRY. Stop overthinking and doing and give yourself a free day!
  • have more fun
  • Musicallity cannot be taught, it comes from within

 

 

I feel it’s going to rain (paperwork)


This week that passed on grad school…

  1. You may mess up completely in your conducting and may have to meet your professor for further assessment.
  2. The day feel ready to meet your professor is the day he’s not on campus.
  3. That’s not the way you hold a baton… in your case you should ’cause that baton is like a Harry Potter wand. My response… CRUCIO!
  4. Handel composed “And the Glory WRATH of the conductor shall be revealed”. A song specially dedicated to all conducting majors in the world.
  5. When you think you don’t have enough work, think again.
  6. How many grad students does it take to move a speaker?
  7. Are we on key? Is that a C? a C #? C flat? whut? My thought process when we Glory the anna
  8. Britten concert was a cool experience as a birthday.
  9. You can fall asleep on your couch after a skype call, while your friends wait for you in their house to celebrate.
  10. You will start missing people the day before, during, and after your birthday. (Specially those who are in the moving process).
  11. You all did well, but you still have to take another test of the same material next week (this Wednesday).
  12. My abstract was French with a touch of Dutch… I think I can roll with this… if I can ACTUALLY get the dissertation and scores I asked for… 3 weeks ago?
  13. Lully and Mendelsohn are cool… so cool that I listen to their pieces for basically an hour on repeat and then say WAIT I need to annotate things on these scores. Process may be repeated at least three times this weekend.
  14. J. S. Bach is a cat. With fluffy ears, which I want to pet (if he doesn’t kill me first or tries to escape, and succeed.)
  15. Starbucks Colombian coffee is NOT good enough. I need my Puertorrican coffee.
  16. That moment when your harmony professor calls you and tells you “if you migrate from our harmonic system to theirs (US system) I will disown you. Hey, here’s my email. Anything you need call me, text me or email me (specially for scores).”
  17. Choral Literature Jepordy:  Here… listen to these 3 obscure passages from the 16 pieces. They have no text. Who wrote it?
  18. Something as simple as assisting in giving a midterm may be reassure yourself that you want to be a professor.

 

The Silent Sniper: Sleep is a Solstice


Warning: This post may not be 100% coherent. Why? Not much sleep, coffee depravation (one cup of coffee does not suffice), and because Daleks/Cybermen/The Master want to exterminate my Research assignments by throwing it into a fire pit.

This week in  “Chronicles of Graduate School Living”, we can view ze graduate student recognizing that sleep is fleeting or while sleeping he wakes up at 2 am scared he missed a deadline. This week has been…. long. I’ve felt that everyday is a new Tuesday (for some reason I hate Tuesday’s more than Mondays. Weird. I know). Maybe it’s because I did not have as a productive last weekend as I thought I would have. Also, I noticed that the books, articles, and scores I have to read, read and write, and analyze, respectively are adding up. Every time I finish one, two more appears. So, it’s like Pokemon (nerd alert). It’s when you are running through the grass and just when you’re about to get out 100 Weedles appear or if in you’re a cave 1000 Zubats come and attack you with confuse ray (wow. I reached a new low… I shake my head at myself). But, in the midst of this there has to be something good, right? Right.

Some of the good news are that I’m finally “recovering myself as a conductor” which means…? I’m finally loosing up in my conducting course. Which is amazing and awesome. Why? Because… it’s good. Another thing that’s good is that some of my fellow professors have asked me about my research topic (which you can read a slight intro here). The good thing is that I’ve researched a bit more in the subject, and I get more excited about it. The bad thing? The actual information I need to further my investigation is still in Washington, DC. This irks me, scares me, and… downright terrifies me, because if I don’t get Dr. Klemme (aka the only HUMAN in  the United States of America who has done something with Henk Badings, the dutch composer I’m researching) I have to do everything from scratch, and… I really don’t want to do that. I have enough score analyses to do (and so little time).  Another epic, amazing, and awesome thing that may happen in my life (next semester) is that I can enroll in a graduate composition course. Notice the adjectives that evoke the happiness that is resurging from my heart. I am extremely excited because I’ve always wanted to take some composition courses and I now I can! *insert happy dance* *insert solemn dance* *insert breakdown, because that’s next semester and I still need to do so many things until that happens (hurrah! Run-on Sentences!)*

A good thing that I liked about this week (I still have tomorrow, but I hope it continues in the same vibe that I’ve had, so far, today) is that I had the opportunity to conduct University Singers. I conducted Lauridsen’s Ave Maria, which is a beautiful piece and I love it. It was pretty cool because we had students from Illinois District IV, and they saw me conduct (yay me).  Now I have to recollect my belongings which are thrown all over this table, and prepare myself for choir rehearsal. After this I’ll throw myself into the neverending paperwork (and drown dramatically while practicing my conducting, baton and all).

Trying to study at WIU's Library

Trying to study at WIU’s Library

 

 

 

What I’ve learned in Grad school is….


Wow.  I knew Grad School would be challenging and it has been more than I have ever imagined. Up until now I’ve been a grad student for  a month, and I love it.  So here you have the things I’ve learned in graduate school so far

  1. Everybody is on the same playing field, no matter if you peers have 10 years or more working or just out of their undergrad.
  2. Do not compete, you are there to better yourself.
  3. Every single one of your peers is a geek or nerd the “difference” is how much they show it.
  4. Your professors are nerds. Embrace it, one day you’ll be a nerd with a doctorates.
  5. One of the (many) reasons we want a Doctorate degree is so that we can have the same title as THE Doctor.
  6. Sleep is overrated.
  7. You may not have that much time to have that mythical thing called “lunch” if you’re a TSA, TA or GA.
  8. You will be in one, two or three ensembles at the same time if you want it or not.
  9. Your supervisor may and can send you an email at 5:30 am.
  10. You are expected to do so much more.
  11. If your professors don’t push you to be better something is wrong.
  12. Listen to ALL the music!
  13. Did you think you were fully bilingual?  Ok. Let’s ask you something very randomly in class. 😀
  14. It is necessary to go out with your peers on a weekly basis or somewhat similar to this. If you do not do this, you will die from frustration or drown in music scores.
  15. Print everything a week or two ahead. It’s better.
  16. Read, Review and Re-read anything you have to submit 3 or more times.
  17. Enjoy grad school!
  18. “Don’t think about it too much. It doesn’t have  to be perfect. Go out and have a drink with your peers.”
  19. The professors may remind you of TV show characters… DoctorDonna for example… or the Dean from Community.
  20. Your peers are really cool.

The year that never was part deux: “When reality ruins everything”


In the last post I reflected on what has happened in this past year. To recap, the expectations  were:

  1. Finish my Teaching Internship successfully, and show that I can actually be a music teacher (choral conductor).
  2. Finish my Choral Conducting course & (maybe) conduct in the Spring Tour.
  3. Go to France in the summer with my best friend (as a reward to myself for studying nonstop for five years)
  4. Start my Master’s in Music (Choral Conducting).
  5. Become more independent.

As a result, I finished the Teaching Internship successfully, I passed all my evaluations with very high percentage (yay me!) and so did my friend & peer Yolimar. I received one of highest grades in the Internship (at least from my supervisors group). I also finished my Choral Conducting course with flying colors. I am (for now) the only student from PUCPR who graduated with a full year in student conducting (pats self). I also conducted in the Spring Tour (New York & New Jersey). I had the honor of conduct in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York & in Saint Joseph of the Palisades Chapel in New Jersey. I graduated PUCPR with honors, and received the Mons. Di Marco Medal for musicianship and musical excellence. So far so good right? Wrong.

It’s amazing the way life changes drastically in a few moments. I was in an all time high, I was graduating as well did my partner and my better half. We were going to France in the Summer,and then I would start my masters degree. I got accepted into a very recognized School of Music, and I was on the runnings in getting a scholarship. I was going to become more independent. Things were looking up. That’s when everything came crashing down.

In the few months before graduating (more or less May/June 2012) I received the following information:

  1. I did not receive any type of scholarship. Since I didn’t receive any (extra) financial aid, I couldn’t start my masters in the program of my dreams for I couldn’t have managed financially. I could have started my master’s degree last August (August 2012), but that meant taking out Federal and Private loans. But this meant that I would have fallen in the death grip of financial decay at 22 years. I decided to not study (as any rational, decent individual would do). 
  2. I did not go to France for the summer with my best friend. Why? Because the loans (which were “tailored for the trip”) did not cover nearly half of the trips expenses. So no trip for any of us.
  3. Being independent: This, which was intertwined with the last to points, did not come into fruition. I know what you may think. “Jose, you do not need to go to leave your parents house to be independent.” I know this. I know that I do not need to leave my parents house to become independent. The dillema is that, here in Puerto Rico, there are no jobs. When I mean there are no jobs is that I have friend with two Masters degrees and she can’t find a job as a Teacher (her Bachellors), Administrator (one of her master’s degrees) or even in a Fast Food Establishment (because she’s “overqualified”). As I wrote in my Goals Statement essay:

    The Puerto Rican government perceives the arts in general as insignificant in comparison with the core subjects, as well as unnecessary for the integral development of the island’s students. Currently, the Department of Education of Puerto Rico has enacted a policy that authorizes school principals (of both elementary and secondary level schools) to decide whether or not they wish to offer music, visual arts, and even physical education classes to their students based on two criteria: first, if the principals deem the classes necessary to the integral development of their students, and secondly, if the school’s budget allows space for teachers specialized in fine arts and/or physical education.

    So this means that I can’t work as a teacher because in both, private and public, educational system in the island are not hiring teacher, what is a recent college graduate to do? (Other than to send resumes/C.V knowing that you won’t get hired, because there are no jobs).

  4. Social Media Insomnia/Netflix addiction: Since I couldn’t find a job my days these past year became a blur. I have spent hours in social media, such as Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, and Netflix watching T.V series, movies, documentaries and spiraling into what I call “The College Graduate Depression”. This stage is a really sad one, for you realize that you can’t go foward, because you can’t get a job and to get a job you need experience. What’s even sadder is that all of my friends got in this stage together and even more depressing? We couldn’t meet up and didn’t talk much (in person) because to meet up equals gas equals money equals no job equals no money. So this is a vicious and deadly cycle which needs to stop.

In this realization I started to look for methods of escaping. It sounds like a rivating tale of survival (which it is). The plan was the same: “how do I get out of here (the island)?” “how can I at least find a job, save up some money, and go to that first question?” I spent countles hours searching for “the escape”. I searched for other music programs and decided I would apply for Western Illinois University, Westminister Choir College, & re-apply to Florida State University. I got accepted into Western Illinois University’s Master’s in Music Program (Choral Conducting, Performance) as well as Florida State University (again). I also passed the first audition for Westminister Choir College (I still can’t believe it!) but I couldn’t go to their on-campus audition due to lack of money.

So what’s next?

After being accepted into both programs, interviewed by Dr. James Stegall, Director of Choral Activities from Western Illinois University and analyzing my chances in both universities. I decided to go to WIU and start my post-graduate education Illinois. As part of being a graduate student in WIU I will be a Graduate Assistant for Choirs. Since everything will be a brand new experience (leaving the island on my own for the first time, and studying “abroad”) I’ll be blogging regularly and sharing all my experiences in Illinois with you all. I hope you enjoy them as much as I know I will. I hope you enjoy this crazy ride you’re about to take with me. Please remember to have both hands and feet inside the machine at all times!

-J.C.

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