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The interviews I conduct at MusicCentral form an oral history depicting the musical community around me. I speak to composers, performers, music scholars and librarians, concert organizers, and concertgoers in order to give a full accounting of musical life in the early twenty-first century. Through these interviews I also aim to bring added attention to the good work being done by friends and colleagues. Although in some sense this project is just beginning, I hope you will enjoy browsing the interviews I have conducted so far and check back over time for additional entries.

— Interviews —

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Dafnis, Costas (San Francisco Bay Area, CA)

“In the San Francisco Bay Area, it is not uncommon for people to commute an hour each way every day—a figure that simultaneously horrified and fascinated me when I moved here from Louisiana two years ago. Commute uses as a motor a sort of musical invective. It sets up a clear destination with harmonic impedances along the map, and those conflicts become some of the most salient musical moments.” — Costas Dafnis


Composer Costas Dafnis on his “Commute” (posted May 16, 2017)

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Gabriel, Todd (Shreveport, LA)

“Having a Jazzer dad, a Bach and Scarlatti-loving pianist mother, and a Rockstar for a son, these influences ‘dance inside my head’ along with the music of a long orchestral career as a violist, and fifteen years as a professor. What comes out is a unique, easy to listen to, but constructionally complex style.” — Todd Gabriel


Composer Todd Gabriel on his “Dancing Inside My Head” (posted May 16, 2018)

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Hundemer, Thomas (Shreveport, LA)

Have you learned anything about composition from playing your own pieces? “I’ve learned to try to write more simply and easily for the instruments, but not sure I’ve always been successful at executing that!” — Tom Hundemer


Composer Thomas Hundemer on his “Recuerdo de Xalapa” (posted Feb. 6, 2017)

Composer Thomas Hundemer on his “Slightly Comic Variations” (posted May 14, 2018)

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Lamkin, William (Louisville, KY)

“With classical composition, the prevailing performance practice makes it very hard to receive more than one performance of any given piece. Being in a band, on the other hand, I learned what it was like to build sets and let music grow over time. Music just feels so much more alive that way. Being a part of a dedicated group of collaborators is so fulfilling and lets you form the strongest bonds.” — William Lamkin


William Lamkin on “Not to Scale” and the Launch of Mt. Meteor Records (posted Jun. 28, 2020)

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Li Tao (Eugene, OR)

“If you listen to my music, sometimes you can hear clear Chinese melodic phrases, sometimes not. I think the cultural influences or signifiers don’t have to be obvious, however. Sometimes they are imbedded underneath the surface of music... This language has elements of the cultures I’ve been part of, but I would like to label my music as 'Tao’s music.'” — Li Tao


Composer Li Tao on her “Converse with Rain” (posted Oct. 23, 2020)

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Mobley, Mel (Monroe, LA)

“I believe that all true art is something that affects the perspective of the human condition… Audiences want to make a connection. With multiple artistic platforms, they are more able to see how artists are connecting ideas and how that might relate to them or to a concept that they already have opinions about.” — Mel Mobley


Music and Motion – An Interview with Percussionist and Composer Mel Mobley (posted Nov. 29, 2017)

Festival Preview – Mel Mobley Discusses New Music on the Bayou (posted May 16, 2019)

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Poling, Kermit (Shreveport, LA)

“The biggest challenge was getting started. I wasn’t working from narratives or storylines… Ultimately I just reflected on our city and chose four ideas that I thought would work well. I didn’t consciously model my work after another composer, although I can hear a little Copland, David Diamond, Michael Torke, and Tchaikovsky in places. How’s that for a combination?” — Kermit Poling


Composer Kermit Poling on the Premiere of his “Shreveport Symphony” (posted Jan. 19, 2016)

Composer Kermit Poling on String Quartet No. 1 “Within the Orb of Glories Wearing” (posted May 9, 2016)

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Robin, Greg (Lafayette, LA)

“I compose in terms of ‘seeds.’ For me the gesture is a seed, the seed breaks the surface and grows into a plant or tree with different branches. Often, it may stray far away from the seed but, like any living breathing thing, it can always be traced back to its seed.” — Greg Robin


Composer Greg Robin on his “Gestures III” (posted May 12, 2017)​

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Stokes, Samuel (Natchitoches, LA)

“I tried to emulate the gestures of Bach’s solo cello compositions but with a completely different harmonic language. Small fragments of the melody, however, do contain some fleeting tonal implications without fully establishing a tonic… As a result of Bach’s profound impact on music throughout the world, we might all consider ourselves scions of Eisenach.” — Sam Stokes


Composer Samuel Stokes on his “Scion of Eisenach” (posted May 11, 2016)

Composer Samuel Stokes on the Premiere of his “Mythos” (posted Sep. 30, 2016)

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Velazquez, Jose Gabriel (Donna, TX)

“When I met Zendra I began writing various ideas and themes, however I was writing them for the violin. I began jotting down ideas on paper representing the emotions I felt for her, and it was originally meant to be a violin concerto… Later, I felt it would be a really great gift for Zendra especially because she loves to play the three different flutes, and there are not many works written for that type of switching.” — Gabriel Velazquez


Composer Gabriel Velazquez and Flutist Zendra White on “Una Historia de Amor” (posted May 14, 2019)

Composer Gabriel Velazquez on his “Xibalba: Mayan Underworld” (posted Oct. 21, 2020)

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