My thoughts and out loud thoughts on composition, performance, and many things musical.

2013 – Late to the Game, So Much Great Music – Year in Music

This is always fun. Here are my 12 favorite artists/album/songs/pieces of music that have helped define 2013 for me.

Another year in Texas, the first full one, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve found I’m good at other things, my interests have changed dramatically, and I bought a violin. I cannot play it well. So, that.

1. Gabriel Kahane makes my list every year. Or every day. Everything, really. I had devoured his Craiglistlieder song cycle, February House musicaland his second album Where Are the Arms, among other gems along the way. I only THIS year listened to his FIRST self-titled album, from 2008. **head.desk.**

Just…damn. I love it. He’s definitely the most played musician for me. After listening to his first album, it reaffirmed the music I wanted to write, and am happily playing & recording. I refer you to last year’s music entry where I talk about how great his music is.

All of his music is absolutely what I knew was somewhere inside of me. He has been the biggest influence of how I listen and how I write. Go listen to his stuff. He’s putting out gold.

Also, I think he has a 2014 album on the way. *squeal*

2. yMusic. I’m such a late bloomer. *sigh* Where have I been?? This group is so fantastic. I had heard them in the past but never really sat down and gave them the time of day. Their 2011 album Beautiful Mechanical is so good. It’s so good I wanted to say it’s silly. Because it’s just silly it’s so good.

The composers on the album are all folks I’ve listened to and thoroughly enjoy. Son Lux, St. Vincent (love…), Shara Worden (from My Brightest Diamond), Sarah Snider, Judd Greenstein (OH ya), and naturally Gabriel Kahane.

They also released a 2-tune album called Year of the Dragon this year with a piece by Sufjan Stevens & Gabriel Kahane.

I’ve had so many days at home where I drank coffee, stared out the window, and listened to this album. It has brought me so much peace and pointed my writing in a very fun direction. Thank you, yMusic.

3. Christian Scott. Any tune. Any album. What.

He is bringing jazz back to a popular front. He is making jazz more accessible, I think. The way he sings through that trumpet is sick. His whole band is siiicck. Matt Stevens? Guitar? What?? What a dream team.

I’m fortunate enough to play with a terrific trumpeter, Andrew Smicker, who introduced me to Christian Scott. His music has changed my jazz writing, and, again, how I listen.

4. Ben Clark. A dear friend and talented musician, he’s going to be someone to watch for in the future. He has this song Little Legs, which I just can’t get enough of.

5. Timo AndresHome Stretch


And this. Start video, enjoy to up to 2:33 and keep enjoying.

6. Pentatonix.

They’re just so talented, and they made me enjoy the most popular of pop music again. They gave me another reason to go back and enjoy it.

7. Elgar’s Cello Concerto.

I have two really amazing recordings of this. One by Alisa Weilerstein with Daneil Barenboim & Staatskapelle Berlin, and another with Zuill Bailey with Krzysztof Urbanski & the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

I have very specific memories tied with this of driving back and forth to work, purposely driving under the speed limit to try and hear as much of the piece as possible. There is so much emotion packed into this piece, and Alisa Weilerstein and Zuill Bailey both do a terrific job of bringing out the tears, tugging at the heart.

8. Mahler’s 2nd Symphony.

I refer you to this.

Mahler, for me, is a person I come back to again and again for guidance, reassurance, comfort, and stability. I have a wonderful recording of the NY Phil playing this. I recommend anyone to try and discover Mahler on their own. I honestly think that anyone can relate to something he has to say.

9. Steve Reich‘s “Music for 18 Musicians”

Again, being a late bloomer, I’m so amazed this music has been around and I’ve just discovered. I recently have been on a huuugggee Reich kick. And I can’t get enough.

He is definitely influencing what I do with my writing.

If you have an hour, and want to feel so happy, check it:

10. Chris Thile – Bach Sonatas & Partitas, Vol. 1

Bach was a badass. So is Chris. He beautifully soars through Bach on his mandolin. This has been a routine morning time album with a cup of coffee, while I turn my phone completely off, getting away from the world.

11. I Care If You Listen – Fall 2013 Mixtape

“I Care If You Listen” is an online magazine “about new classical music, art, and technology.” This album is still online, completely free. It has a random choosing of new composers. Everything on it is WAAYY cool, and is another collection of tunes that has helped shape where my writing goes.

Perhaps in 2014 they’ll like something of mine–look out 2014 mixtapes!!

12. Chvrches

Never did I think I would enjoy a band like Chvrches. The club beats, electronics, etc., but it is SOO catchy. And I quite like the lyrics. This is often a workout album, but also I’ve relaxed to this on my couch many times, staring out the window. Damn, they’re funky.

Also, I love to cover their songs.

Those are the musicians/albums/pieces that made my 2013 a great one.

What music made your 2013? I want to hear!


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