Begin Again (2021)
Allen writes “I completed Begin Again on April 29, the 7th year anniversary of my emergence from a 29 day-long coma. The coma was caused by a cardiac arrest (my heart stopped beating, and when I regained consciousness, I was blind and could not stand or move easily. For many years, most of my hours were spent in therapy of various kinds. My vision and movement have returned, and earlier this year (2021) I felt healed enough to attempt my great joy: composing. Throughout 2020, I relearned the composition software I had once used, and I attempted some short etudes and songs for voice and piano. Eventually, I felt secure enough to Begin Again working on the work I was composing when the cardiac arrest struck. This piece you will hear today, sounds, according to my wife and musical friends, much like my style before the injury: it is fun romp through the quintet’s instruments and a challenge for the performers. The horn part is given prominence at one point to honor Quintet of the Americas hornist, Barbara Oldham, who had I met the year before my injury and who has encouraged me to Begin Again.” Begin Again was premiered on November 8, 2021 at the National Opera Center in NYC.
Since the premiere Allen has written 3 more movements for the work. He wrote
I had to relearn much about composing, but I felt the 1st movement was so successful and because I enjoyed it so much,I decided to make the piece into a traditional 4 movement work. Movement 2, Scherzo Di’ntro (inside joke) is a humorous work, intended to be a bit goofy, even funny.
Movement 3’s title comes from a line from one of my favorite poets Marie Raneer Rilke. Its long, lyrical passages are meant to evoke some of the feelings I had about myself and my surroundings as I began to interact more fully with myself and emerge more fully after my injury.
Movement 4 Finale is a fun romp, with undertones of minimalistic styles and dance, which is an interest of mine as a composer who loves music written for the ballet.”
B. Allen Schulz (b. 1964) is the great grandson of the famous vaudevillian and Chicago jazzman, Ollie Powers. Allen studied music composition at Wabash College, Yale University, and The City University of New York. His primary composition instructors have been Eric Lund and Charles Dodge. Allen’s musical interests are eclectic and varied. His compositional activities range from music theater to experimental computer-generated music; from arrangements of sacred music for use in worship services to large-scale works for orchestra. He has been commissioned to compose music for groups as diverse as the award-winning Minimum Wage theater troupe, secondary school ensembles at the Baccalaureate School for Global Education in Queens, NY, The Lost Dog New Music Ensemble, The Round Rock Symphony Orchestra, Iktus Percussion Ensemble, the Parthenia Viol Consort, Anubis Saxophone Quartet, Quintet of the Americas, Voces Novae et Antiquae Chorus, and others. His awards include The John Cage Prize in Experimental Music, Finalist in the National Flute Association’s “Best Newly Published Work for Solo Flute (2011), and high honors in the University of Oregon Waging Peace Through Singing choral competition.
Allen is the founder of Random Access Music, a consortium of New York City-based composers who manage and present performances of their own music in collaboration with new music performance ensembles. In 2012, Allen founded, organized, and led the production of the Queens New Music Festival–a festival featuring 9 different new music ensembles performing works written in the last 50 years. The festival is now an annual showcase of some of NYC’s best emerging new music ensembles and performers. Allen continues to be deeply involved in supporting all of the arts in his community in Astoria, Queens by volunteering his time and energy for cultural groups ranging from schools to orchestras to theaters.
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