Last night I enjoyed one of the best performances of my music to date here at the SoundSCAPE Festival in Maccagno, Italy. Tony Arnold sang my Sandburg Songs with Eastman BroadBand, conducted by Tim Weiss, in a performance that offered everything a composer could want in a performance. The BroadBand under Tim’s direction plays with a kind of telekinetic sense of ensemble, which allowed them to easily shift tempi in “Lost” while also giving the most streamlined dovetailing of scurrying lines and micro-dynamics in the doomed train ride of “Limited.” From her first entrance, intoning the word “De-so-late”, Tony Arnold didn’t just sing, she told a story and led the audience on an emotional journey. The journey led us from points of despair in the first movement (“in tears and trouble”), to torment (“shall pass to ashes”) and humor (“Omaha”) in the second. There was an electric intensity to the performance, particularly in the fast second movement, and I could sense a palpable interest and focus from the audience. It sometimes gets lost in all our technical discussion of notes and chords and theories that the first duty of a composer is to give an audience clear and meaningful emotional experiences, and that is what Tony Arnold, the performers of Eastman BroadBand, and conductor Tim Weiss gave us last night. It was a real privilege.