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  • Writer's pictureClint Williams

First Reading: Odyssey

Two events mean the most to me when it comes to new music projects: the Premiere/Performance and the First Reading. The performance is a test of whether the performers are ready, but the First Reading tells me if I was ready for the moment. Most nights before a first reading are rough… this one was especially so. both nights I was too hyper to get sleepy and couldn’t rest once I calmed down.


I started to write this particular work in October 2003, when I was a Senior in High School. This work gained me entrance to college as a composition major as a freshman. I was starting the third movement as a sophomore when a malicious virus corrupted the first two years of my composer life. Dr. Gregory Hoepfner, my composition professor at the time, told me how ambitious the writing was and assured me that it wasn’t lost; “We all remember our first large work, so rewrite it when you have a great group that can do it some justice!”


I now have the group, so I rewrote the piece. I named the symphony Odyssey because of the journey that it took to reach completion…19 years and 11 months.


This project has me particularly nervous because this is the work that started it all. If I hadn't written this work back then, I'm most likely not where I am doing what I love. Fun fact, My alternative to studying music was learning Romance Languages; I eventually started learning them anyway.


This has always been more than music. I live for what I do and I pour my heart into the score. My mind races every time, “Did you do what you needed to get your message across? Is your score up to your standards? Are you good enough to pull off a successful performance?” Worst of all, “Are your critics right about you?” The last one shouldn’t matter but it feels good to know that someone came to watch a train wreck and left disappointed…


Now for the reading… The first and third movements were read on the 5th and movement two was read tonight. The OCS did wonders for how wound up and nervous I was. The score itself was in good shape, but there were uncommon mistakes that I still kick myself over. I definitely need to give more love to the 2nd wind players so a revision is in my near future. I’m very grateful to this orchestra for being so flexible with me during this residency; I’m learning a ton from every single player and the experience is invaluable.


Tonight’s rehearsal was outstanding. I have listened to an AI recording for so long that listening to actual people became a day playing in the sandbox. Each little twist that I was curious about was met with not only an open mind but excellent play. There are so many things that a computer cannot do without intensive calculations, and it’s honestly not worth the trouble once you get what you wanted.


No matter how good AI gets, It’s. just. better. live.


Note to self and anyone reading this: No matter how good your notation software is, always double-check all boundaries, especially each instrument’s playing range; trust nothing and no one to get it right for you.


Odyssey is in good shape and looks like we will make it to the September 23 show… It’s a great relief and even more a pleasure.

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