MZJ's Music Blog

Boston Tea Party Opera Updates & 10 Years as an Indie Composer 

I'm pleased to announce that scenes from the Boston Tea Party Opera will be presented this spring at StageFest 2014 at the historic Loew's Theater in Jersey City, NJ. I'm also coordinating with the folks at the wonderful Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum to arrange a presentation of some songs there (if you haven't been to that Museum, I highly recommend it). And I'm pleased to report that when the show gets to its full production, proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Bill of Rights Institute, a… Read more

Opera Rant 

Hello Everyone,

I should know by now never to submit my work to competitions, but somehow I continue to get suckered into doing it. Generally, I think competitions exist to flatter the judges and their institutions--to puff up the social status of people who have no creative capacity of their own.

It is pretty silly to make struggling, risk-taking, innovative artists with brilliant things to say jump through administrative hoops with applications and work samples and references, and then make them pay… Read more

Constitution Week Event and other news 

I'm pleased to report that we'll be performing our first sample scenes from the Boston Tea Party Opera with costumes and choreography as part of an event celebrating the Constitution on its anniversary, Tuesday, September 17 in NYC. The event is organized by a coalition of local Meetup groups and will have several speakers including David Lefer, the author of the recently published book The Founding Conservatives: How a Group of Unsung Heroes Saved the American Revolution. Here are the details. (The event… Read more

Music At Our House Class for Fall 2013 

This Fall I'll be offering a new online course, "Cultures of Europe through Music."

A study of the various national characters of Europe--English, French, German, Italian, & Russian--by tracing their evolution over history through samples of music, literature & poetry
Weekly, 45-minute live teleconference class
Runs September through May
Two levels: for young adults (ages 13 and up), and for Elementary age students (7-12)

Registration coming soon!

First Review of "Dancing with the Muses" on Amazon 

First Review of "Dancing with the Muses" on Amazon.com just appeared--five stars!

"Anyone with as little as one year of instrumental training could do the exercises in this book - and should. It is *really* fun to write your own melodies and discover why certain musical lines make sense while others do not. And it will give you a far greater appreciation for the music you listen to and perform."

Read the review on Amazon.com

The Future of the Boston Tea Party Opera (post-Kickstarter) 

Hi Everybody,

I was overwhelmed and honored by the generous pledges and the outpouring of support and excitement during the Kickstarter campaign for my new Boston Tea Party Opera. The interest in the show came from all sorts of unexpected places accross the country! I'll keep you posted as some of these opportunties develop.

We had set an ambitious goal for our Kickstarter campaign. As of our deadline today we have not reached the goal so Kickstarter will not be activating pledges to fund the… Read more

My Feelings about Various Styles of Music 

I had a message from a very active-minded young student of mine in the MusicAtOurHouse program, who wrote:

"Dear Mr. Johnson,
"The reason I’m sending this is because I would like to know your opinions on modern pop music/rock ’n’ roll music. I’d also like to know what you like and dislike about classic Indian, Arabian and [Western] classical music. Then, I’d like to compare the results so that I can see what style of music you like better and what you favor in that style."

Here's my reply:

Read more

Music Doesn't Matter? 

Many people implicitly hold the notion that music doesn't matter, that it has no real consequences and therefore is not one of the important things to judge seriously. I once heard someone say on the radio, making an analogy about some political subject he thought was unimportant, "It matters about as much as whether you listen to rap or opera." Music he took to be the model and primary example of something that is purely a matter of subjective taste, with no universal values cutting across individual… Read more
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