Letters from the Muse Room #39 (May 2023)

The “Muse Room” is the room in my house where I make music and my wife makes visual art. Published the first Friday of every other month, each issue of Letters from the Muse Room includes news and updates about my music, as well as something that has inspired me creatively over the past two months.

Dear friends,

I have one word that characterizes my Letter this month: gratitude.

It’s been a thrill and a privilege and I am fantastically grateful to have had two fantastic performances in the past two months.

[Program page from the Symphony’s Wild Adventure concert.] Look Ma, I’m in the program!

Performance No. 1: The Kansas City Symphony performed Chameleons on their March 12 Family Series concert in partnership with the Kansas City Zoo.

Ever since deciding I wanted to be a composer, I’ve dreamed of having an orchestra perform a piece that I wrote, and thanks to the KC Symphony I realized that dream.

I got to introduce the piece at the concert and the orchestra of course performed wonderfully. Very grateful!

[Me introducing Chameleons in Helzberg Hall!]

Performance No. 2: This was a different performance than I was expecting. newEar Contemporary Chamber Ensemble was slated to perform the live, in-person, two-flute premiere of A Long Weight of Silence in their concerts last weekend, but their flutist got sick at the last minute.

[Sascha Groschang performing Shapeshifter!]

Graciously, Sascha, newEar’s cellist, stepped in to play the world premiere of Shapeshifter, the piece I wrote for her that we were hoping to premiere sometime later this year.

I’m very grateful to newEar for programming my music in the first place, and very grateful to Sascha for learning a hard piece a month or two ago and performing it at these concerts with just a few days’ notice. She did a terrific job and it was wonderful to hear the piece come to life. And the rest of the music was great too!

[Sascha and me after the Sunday afternoon concert.] [Composers and performers at the newEar concert.] All the composers and performers from the newEar concert!


These two performances were certainly inspiring to me this month, and I hope if you were able to attend one that the music was inspiring to you too.

I do have one other piece of inspiration for you as well. I recently discovered the music of Tommy Emmanuel, an Australian guitar virtuoso. I’ve really enjoyed his music because it’s virtuosic without being showy, and most of his songs are genuinely, sincerely, infectiously happy.

My favorite song of his is “Halfway Home.” The opening lick never fails to get stuck in my mind, in the best way, and I end up whistling it for the rest of the day. The album version of the song is on YouTube too but here’s a live performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkKcd51QCiE&ab_channel=TommyEmmanuel.

[Tommy Emmanuel performing his song “Halfway Home.”]

I hope you find joy and inspiration in music this month. Till next time!

AJ Harbison

View full newsletter (with pictures and links)

Letters from the Muse Room Live News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *