© STEPHEN MELILLO IGNA 1976-2013, 2-3 Millennium STORMWORKS 1988-2013, 25th Anniversary of the Piece!
"Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else."
(See the Stormworks 1988-2013 Score notes for more!)
REHEARSAL SUGGESTIONS for Conductors & Musicians: Please load these mp3s into your iTunes for rehearsal and playback via the STORMSound System. Full CD Quality AIFFs come on CD with the Score & Parts.
Your goal is to respond like Studio Musicians to an unforgiving, relentless, unchanging Pre-recorded Track. My suggestion is to rehearse technical matters away from any recordings. The idea is to push to the click... and not neccessarily to "work up" to it. Time should be the constant and the Goal, with technical rehearsals made away from the Precorded Tracks. Once everything is under the fingers, you can then try 2 approaches:
1. Play along with the Track that includes Strings at the Proper Tempo of mm=156. STORMWORKS 1988 Demo at mm=156
2. Immediatley begin work with the Pre-recorded Track and at the Proper Tempo of mm=156. If further technical practice is needed with a CLICK TRACK, I suggest setting up an iPAD with a metronome click and playing it through the STORMSound System. This will reinforce working with a steady CLICK, saving the Pre-reocrded Track as a Goal when mm=156 is consistent. STORMWORKS 1988 PRE-RECORDED CONCERT TRACK at mm=156.
What it Means to be Caught in the Storm (2013)
by Russell Maclin, Cellist and senior at Central Bucks South HS, PA
SET-UP: Perhaps my most recently acquired frustration with high school is its apparent lack of inertia. I don't mean the building itself; I'm sure that if the bricks and cement were thrown, they would take enormous force to halt. Instead, I am referring to the fact that people commonly make that mistake, thinking that the name "CB South" refers to those bricks and cement. What happens within these walls is not enough to overcome them: the base level of inspired energy—among students and among almost all teachers—seems to be a firmly rooted zero. Attendance is an obligation; classroom connections are fleeting; personalities are façades jaded students erect against the negative energy that pulses from within them and from the otherwise-deadened white walls. People rush away at 2:30 like repelled magnets, and when school is not in session, most internal communities are abandoned—not only is the building empty; school in the metaphysical definition is deserted as well.
The VISION: I want to be a part of an academic community that has momentum, a community whose personality exists separate from itself, eternal, intangible, infectious, engulfing. Instead of an environment in which every pursuit must be hauled and heaved up from scratch just to possess a spark, an inertial environment has a continuously rumbling energy under it, like smoldering embers ready to be enflamed at a moment's notice. In contrast, we commonly find ourselves collecting timber time and time again.
Enter STORMWORKS: Quite suddenly, though, I have found myself initiated into the Third Millennium, which is quite possibly the most momentous—derived here from "momentum"—community I have ever witnessed: altogether without physical boundaries, the Third Millennium is connected by a common philosophy and purpose; it is sustained by pure momentum without any forced connection. It has a language all its own, a history all its own (our fledgling membership is proceeded by decades of experiences before us), and a philosophy that is in stark contrast to the normal, tepid maxims fed to schoolchildren. And the originality and driving force behind this language, history, and philosophy create a legacy of energy so sweeping that those dedicated to membership are swept along—in effect, "Stormworks" is exceptionally literal: those who take part in this body of work are swept into a cerebral, philosophical, and communal storm.
The PIECE and more: In "Stormworks 1988-2013," momentum is all. The "relentless" rhythm brings momentum to the literal realm, but there's also an intangible realm of momentum driving through this piece: echoes of adventures past, of emotions, of performances, reverberate off the page and add depth and wind to the storm-like inertia. And playing along with the percussion track brings a conceptual momentum as well as a physical boundary of forward motion: practicing at home, I am forced to constantly conform and live up to the standards of the professional musicians whom I have never met yet are who are miraculously accompanying me. The track is a glimpse of the end product—it will never change; we are the ones who must match its established force and inflection. Clearly, the base level for this piece is far above zero. It's incredible that compared to my time spent in school—in the proximity of thousands, there appears to be little intellectual spark or vigor—practicing "Stormworks 1988-2013" by myself, at home, feels almost claustrophobically inhabited by sheer human will.
The MUSIC: I am enthralled by this experience because it reasserts everything I love about MUSIC. I love the community, the communication that will eventually occur across the stage, but for now, is replaced by a different connection—one of experiences across time and space. Lofty goals are hardly set for students anymore, yet here we are pinned up against professional quality and must, in a matter of months, leap to the occasion, and contrary to popular belief, people love to leap. A community so individual and so idealistic is a pleasure to get swept into, and I love the storm that is engulfing us all. A storm without sides, without limits; a storm that has lasted for over two decades, silently smoldering in the background of society, ready to jump to flame anywhere around the globe—a universal storm that shocks everyone in its range with lightning that reaches into the Romantic depths of passion, commitment, and idealism... This is shaping up to be the perfect storm, 2013.
You Can't Fake Real
Music is an extraordinary gift: of joy, of sorrow, of life—through a simple birthday tune or a magnificent symphony that gives life to souls of those who once were; of death—through a mournful dirge or an anguished melodic poem that sucks all essence of life from the air. It can be simple. Ephemeral phrases. Humble harmonies. Or it can be incredibly intricate, with lengthy, longwinded lines, interwoven and involved. Whatever its purpose, whatever its form or finesse, music is a gift. This is what I have been told since the age of three, the age that music became an essential part of my life. And I truly thought I understood the meaning of this statement until the age of sixteen, the age that a defining event affected my entire perspective.During my early years as a violinist—if you can really call a three-year-old with a violin a "violinist"—my bow was a light saber. Between practicing my scales, I fought off bad guys; after playing through "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" successfully, it was a sword with which I knighted my father. Over the years, my light-saber turned into an instrument which—instead of producing magical spells—produced magical music. I felt this magic when I played, and so did those I played for. I've been told after many performances that it was evident how much I felt the music; that I brought one person to tears, another to goose bumps. "Music is a gift," I would tell them while thanking them for their praise, "and I'm glad I was able to share it with you." But I never could fully explain why music could elicit such physical responses, uncontrollable reactions expressed through the nerves beneath our hair follicles or the tear ducts of our eyes.
During my early years as a violinist—if you can really call a three-year-old with a violin a "violinist"—my bow was a light saber. Between practicing my scales, I fought off bad guys; after playing through "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" successfully, it was a sword with which I knighted my father. Over the years, my light-saber turned into an instrument which—instead of producing magical spells—produced magical music. I felt this magic when I played, and so did those I played for. I've been told after many performances that it was evident how much I felt the music; that I brought one person to tears, another to goose bumps. "Music is a gift," I would tell them while thanking them for their praise, "and I'm glad I was able to share it with you." But I never could fully explain why music could elicit such physical responses, uncontrollable reactions expressed through the nerves beneath our hair follicles or the tear ducts of our eyes."You can't fake real," my orchestra conductor would always say, quoting Stephen Melillo, his good friend, and
"You can't fake real," my orchestra conductor would always say, quoting Stephen Melillo, his good friend, and great teacher. He used these wise words frequently and fervently, in an attempt to explain the unexplainable, to help us really feel the music. This is why when we were privileged with the opportunity to partake in a musical project with Stephen Melillo himself—a role model to our conductor and now to us, as well—it was immensely meaningful.
My select string ensemble, in collaboration with the West Chester University Chamber Orchestra, gathered to record an original composition by Stephen Melillo, written for and dedicated to the families of the children tragically killed in the Sandy Hook shooting. After our part was complete, the recording would be sent to Austria where select musicians would add percussion, wind and brass. Our recording session was conducted by Mr. Melillo himself, and if anyone in the room was not engaged initially, his conducting style reversed that immediately. His large, extravagant swooping of the baton, his deep-felt emotions plainly etched into his face, forced everyone to become utterly immersed in the music. His heavy downbeats made his whole body shake and sent surging swells through the air; the room itself shook in tandem. The music was passionate; it was heartrending and stirring and moving. When I played, I didn't just feel the music, I felt myself within the music. I played with the same passion and intensity with which Stephen Melillo conducted. I felt an unexplainable bond with everyone in the room, because I felt like I was sharing a part of myself with them, and each of them was sharing a part of themselves with me. I thought about the children who were lost in the Sandy Hook shooting; I thought about their families and the gaping hole they all must feel. I thought about how this musical offering might help fill a tiny fraction of that hole, as they each open a personal score signed by each of us involved, and how I personally might help these people, whom I don't even know, in a tiny step towards healing. I was overcome with emotion—both of sorrow and sympathy for those grieving, and of humbled joy and appreciation that I could be a part of this amazing gift. The emotion was palpable. By the end of the session, every person in the room was in tears.
It was during this event that I realized what it truly means to give the gift of music. It is not enough to just feel it. You must become it. You must let go of the boundary that makes music something separate from yourself; it must contain a part of yourself. Truly great music comes from the heart, and truly great music helps people in amazing ways. Truly great music is real, and you can't fake real.