How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?
That's the old joke: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice. And if you are the concert pianist Scott Holden preparing for an exciting recital as part of the 2018 Mormon Arts Center Festival, the answers are: discover and then practice.
It had long been a dream of mine to have elite Mormon performers tackle our culture's best music and put it on display in the world's best concert venues. I reached out to Scott Holden and asked whether it might appeal to him to prepare a recital of Mormon composers' works. I knew what a big ask it was. Although Scott plays quite a bit of contemporary music, this would require discovery of many composers and their best music.
In April of 2017, I wrote to Scott and floated the idea of a survey of Mormon composers' piano works. I suggested 15 names and their works, familiar and unfamiliar. I think he was intrigued. Then in July, I updated him on how our first festival went and our plans for 2018 to include a concert at Carnegie Hall. It was a really busy time for him; he was concertizing in Asia and here in the States. Meanwhile, I started reaching out to the wonderful librarians at the Harold B. Lee Library and requested a giant stack of scores recordings, and manuscripts be delivered to Scott's BYU office so he could play through them. At the same time, Scott wrote to a number of contemporary LDS composers and requested scores for perusal.
Then in October, I was in Utah, and I parked myself down on a chair in his office while he played through a big bunch of music. Some appealed to him, some didn't. Soon, we found ourselves getting excited about the possibilities. Before Thanksgiving, Scott had narrowed down the focus to a little more than a dozen composers: from the U.S., China, Spain, and Argentina. And two composers (Lisa DeSpain and Lansing McLoskey) agreed to write new works to be premiered at the concert.
This is going to be good.