The Noise: Part One - Introduction

This post is part of a series for students of the Pittsburg State University Wind Ensemble, who will be premiering my new work, The Noise, in April 2019 - for two voices and wind ensemble, directed by Andrew Chybowski. Featured singers will be Stella Hastings and Patrick Howle.

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Greetings

Hello, reader!

If you are curious about me, my background
or any of my other work, you can visit
www.kimberlyosberg.com or
soundcloud.com/kimosberg for more info!
My name is Kimberly Osberg, and I am a composer currently living in Dallas, Texas. 

While originally from the Midwest (Wisconsin born, Iowa and Indiana educated, the latter of which is how I met Dr. Chybowski), I now work with the Dallas the Chamber Symphony. My job includes - front-of-house during concerts, event operations throughout the season, librarian, social media, sometimes a guest composer, and any other odds-and-ends that pop up during the year.

I use to play percussion, harp, and jazz piano. I grew up listening to classic rock, jazz, and - regrettably - polka music. I played in some kind of concert band for about 12 years, but have only written about 2-3 works for the genre. I have always loved winds and brass over strings, however, so I am very excited to be working with all of you!

When Dr. Chybowski first told me of your ensemble, he encouraged me to consider something large-scale and ambitious, and we quickly decided to pair your group with singers Stella Hastings and Patrick Howle in a sort of song-cycle format. When it came to the subject matter for the text, we tossed a lot of ideas around - from Americana folklore to quirky takes on social media. However, one idea in particular kept looping back in my mind, and I eventually settled on it permanently. 

What the Piece is About:

Don't get me wrong, though - I
still love memes.
I had been thinking a lot about mental health issues - not just with my own experiences (I've struggled with anxiety), but with the many, many people in the music field I've talked with about their experiences. 

A lot of us - myself included - use dark humor to create a sense of community (sharing "hahaha I have depression"-style memes and tweets). While it allows people to see that they're not alone - and, for some people can be helpful - it has also started to normalize constantly "feeling bad." 

The platforms we share these on are designed to keep us on them - something we wouldn't do nearly as much if we were spending time with people in-person - and they profit on our feelings of isolation, distrust, and surface-level coping. While many of these tools can be used for powerfully useful things like promoting events, sharing good news with friends, learning new information, or connecting with people you wouldn't otherwise get to speak with, normalizing "feeling bad" is good only for platforms which profit off of your constant use of them, and the cycle is very, very difficult to break.

You start to feel weird that some of your fellow musicians are getting into festivals or getting gigs you're not getting, or that someone's post got a lot more reactions that yours, or "impostor syndrome"  - when you feel like you're just faking it/don't know what you're really doing/don't deserve the good things that happen and hoping no one notices, all the while feeling guilty about "faking it" at the same time.

This is the "conclusion" the piece sort of settles on
Other works that have tried to address these issues try hard to explore the experiences, but also try to wrap it up with a "everything is going to be better now" sort of vibe, when for many, many people it's never going to go away completely. There's no cure, per se, only active, healthy coping and hard work.

I wanted to write a piece that explored these subtleties without making promises - at what point is it actually a problem? What is it like in one moment to live with something like this going on? How does this affect even simple, daily things? Are we coping or just surviving? 

While I believe the last movement is hopeful, I want it to also be realistic - we can't fix everything by "just thinking positive" and these thoughts may never go away completely. It doesn't really offer a specific answer (go to therapy, surround yourself with friends, take medication, etc.), but more of an acknowledgement - something to open the conversation for people to really ask themselves what's going on in their minds, but without judgement or shame.


The Work in Progress

The entire work is in four movements, and each explores a particular vignette or scenario. The first and last movements will feature both vocalists, while the second and third are solo movements for the baritone and mezzo-soprano respectively. 

While I aim to have interesting parts for everyone throughout the work, I am hoping to also focus in on a specific musical aspect and grouping for each movement - winds featured more heavily in the first movement, brass in the second, percussion in the third, and everyone in the fourth.

The text is already completed, and the second and third movements' Piano-Vocal scores are nearly finished, with the first and last movement well on their way. From there, I will be orchestrating the work for your ensemble, and plan to have it completed by the time you return from your Spring Break later this month.

Going Forward:

I will be giving updates on the piece here, posting some samples and letting you know how I'm thinking about this. 

Greetings from Dallas!
Your director has the full text (which I will not share publicly online in it's entirety until after the premiere), and I encourage you to read it over when you have the time. 

I welcome and encourage ideas, feedback, and comments at any time! If there's a sound you love making on your instrument, or something you really want to be able to work on through this piece, please let me know! While I hope this is a work that gets picked up by other groups in the future, the commission is ultimately yours, and I want all of you to feel involved in the process as possible. 

You may either comment here or send me an e-mail directly (which Dr. Chybowski can give you). I am very excited to be working on this piece with you all, and look forward to meeting you in a few weeks!

Comments

  1. Hello Kimberly Osberg! My name is Devon Ellicott and I am the principal tubist for the Pittsburg State University Wind Ensemble. Dr. Chybowski told us that you are willing to take request for the piece you are writing for us. That being said I would love to play a substantial tuba solo! The tuba is (unfairly) neglected in wind ensemble literature as a solo instrument, but I would love to shine like a trumpet or oboe! I am looking forward to reading what you write!

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  2. Hello! I play third horn at PSU and I just wanted to give you a little insight into your horn section. Both I and our fourth horn are pretty comfortable in the low range of the horn, down to the F below Bass Clef without too much trouble. If you would like to take advantage of this facet of the horn, we would both love to play it!
    Another interesting thing about the PSU Wind Ensemble is that I have been playing Eb Tenor Horn for a few years now, so if you are looking for a different timbre for a horn solo, I would love to play that for you! I personally love the Tenor Horn's voice, and think it sounds amazing for big lyrical solos.
    I'm very much so looking forward to getting to dig in and perform your new work on such an important topic!

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