Open for Business

 A gift from Jan Brodersen and Jan Peterson, two of my early mentors.

A gift from Jan Brodersen and Jan Peterson, two of my early mentors.

A couple of weeks ago I received word that my PhD corrections had been officially approved, meaning that my time spent as a formal, full-time student of music composition has finally come to an end. I know that in a sense we never stop learning, but to have reached the end of my student career still feels like an extraordinary milestone. I am now Dr. LaVoy, or at least very, very close to it. In November, I will fly back to Scotland to attend my graduation ceremony, and, more importantly, to see Sarah and catch up with the people I came to know, love and respect over there.

So, what am I doing now? That’s a good question, and I think I’m closing in on a solid answer. It became clear to me in the final year of research in Aberdeen (those of you who have done a PhD or DMA of some kind will know what a long slog that final year is) that I need a break from academia. This year will be a breather; a time when I can focus on composing, teaching privately and working with ensembles on my own terms. Sometime next year I will reassess this position and, possibly, apply for academic positions. However, with a new article surfacing every few days discussing the seemingly deplorable state of adjunct teaching, I’m in no hurry to jump into that field.

The bottom line is this: I am officially open for business. What I love more than anything is composing music for living, breathing humans and travelling to work with talented ensembles around the world. I would never forgive myself if I didn’t at least make the attempt to pursue my true dream of being a full-time composer, performer and clinician. The truth of the matter is that I’m young yet; I am newly twenty-seven, with a PhD and plenty of time to figure things out for myself. My life has been blessed with so many people who have selflessly supported my musical endeavors – it is now time for me to make the transition into true professionalism and a viable career.

There are a number of avenues I am pursuing to make this dream a reality, one of which has been the revitalization of this website. Over the past few days I have gutted, restructured and beefed up the site to a point where I finally feel more comfortable with the operational capacity of the digital side of my career. I must thank Sydney Guillaume for his advice in this regard and others, he has been enormously kind and helpful. I now have a plethora of information on commissions available, including the beginnings of commission consortia projects, as well as information on my new rates for residencies and both in-person and Skype clinics. I have also begun the new venture of teaching composition lessons via Skype, something I have long desired to do.

 The Same Stream, conducted by James Jordan

The Same Stream, conducted by James Jordan

I should mention that I am now very happily based in Philadelphia! There were three reasons for making the move out here. Firstly, I came to this city as a favor to my father and step-mother, as they will be embarking on massive, three-month-long trip to Europe in a week’s time and need someone to look after the house and the animals. Secondly, a great number of my American friends and professional contacts live and operate here on the East Coast, making amazing music and living exciting lives. Thirdly, I have become more involved with The Same Stream Choir, and will be performing and recording regularly with this fantastic new professional ensemble conducted by James Jordan. All of this added up a ‘no-brainer’ moment for me – Philadelphia is clearly the place I need to be for the time being.

I also realized recently that the title of my previous blog, “An American Abroad,” quite simply no longer applies to my situation. I learned a lot from operating that blog, mostly that the goal of writing a new post every week was wishful thinking. So many wonderful things would pass without a post that I found when I did have time to write, my posts were chock-full of too much information. Perhaps now that I am no longer a student I’ll have the time, but I think it’s safe to say for now that I’ll post as often as I can. I'm still searching for a new title as well, "New Blog" is only temporary. 

 The Laudamus Chamber Chorale, conducted by Laura Gillett

The Laudamus Chamber Chorale, conducted by Laura Gillett

In closing I would just like to reiterate the fact that I am indeed open for business. If you’ve considered the possibility of a commission, there’s no time like the present; I have a number of exciting commissions coming up, including a three-movement work for the Laudamus Chamber Chorale (Laura Gillett, conductor) based on the wonderful poetry of Sarojini Naidu, but I would love to fill up my schedule even more. If you or someone you know is interested in taking composition lessons, please get in touch with me as spaces are limited. Also, to the wonderful choirs who perform my works, please fill out this performance report form when you sing my music! It’s free and helps me tremendously in terms of keeping track of things.

Best wishes to you all,

Thomas LaVoy