Matthew Cooperman is pursuing a Master’s degree in Orchestral conducting.
I had the privilege of working with Nine Horses this semester and conduct the premiere of their newest work, “yellow toy truck with silver wheels.” This was such an enjoyable and unique experience. Rehearsals were fast-paced, but calm. It was a very professional atmosphere, and Joe (the composer) was eager to work with us. Joe struck a great balance of dictating exactly what he wanted as a composer, while allowing us to be free as performers. Rehearsing the work was a challenge for coordinating the many complex rhythms between the performers, and since this was a new piece there were no recordings out yet. Luckily, Joe provided all of us involved with a MIDI file of the piece, which was helpful. I listened to the MIDI file with the score several times, but mostly I had to make sure I could catch all of the meter changes and tempo relationships. Since this piece was so rhythmic, there was a lot of “scatting” happening in my score study so I could really internalize the rhythmic drive.
Working with artists of such a high-caliber is a treat. I’ve been fortunate to work with a few high-caliber artists as a conductor, and the best part of working with them is that they have no ego. There are of course exceptions, but when an artist has reached the highest levels they no longer have anything to prove, and therefore forget about their ego. Joe, Sarah, and Andrew were all incredibly kind people to work with, and really let us know how much they appreciated our hard work. In the end, the performance went incredibly well, I thought. Joe, and all members of 9 Horses, seemed very pleased and appreciative of our performance. The performance had extra (good) energy, which is natural for live performance. Having the opportunity to premiere a piece with a professional, award-winning ensemble was very gratifying. To be asked to conduct a world premiere, particularly for an award-winning ensemble, is incredible, and knowing that our performance is the inception of this work’s public life is exciting.