Nix Now 6.1.24



•My performance schedule is filling up for the next few months.   This summer, I will be working with Gloria Matlock, and the small children's choir of Twice As Smart.  

Twice As Smart is an after-school program for children at-risk, providing them with a learning environment that is both trauma-informed and strength-based, to launch them on a path to continuing education and purposeful lives.  The children in Twice As Smart are given opportunities to integrate reading, writing and mathematics with expressive arts, such as music, creative writing and movement, all of which open new avenues of self-expression. The children have learned by heart a repertoire of songs they present in the program, Where Is the Kindness? Songs of Homelessness, Migration and Immigration.

Gloria De,Layne Matlock is an educator, dancer, poet, chorus director, and playwright. She grew up singing gospel and spirituals with The Robinson Singers, directed by her mother—songs that had been passed down from her great-great grandmother. She has presented her workshops using music to heal racism throughout the U.S. and beyond.

Gloria Matlock and Michael Nix reach deep into the centuries-old tradition of African American song. With a powerful and authentic voice, Gloria sings gospel songs, spirituals, story songs, work songs, songs of slavery and emancipation, present-day freedom songs, jazz, and modern song.   Michael explores the roots of guitar and banjo playing from early gourd instruments to arrangements and compositions for the modern seven-string instrument of his own design.

• Looking ahead to July,  I will play a concert with the Pioneer Consort,  with Chris Devine: violin, viola, mandolin; and Greg Snedeker, cello and piano.

I play several solo performances of the New Classic Banjo Project repertoire as heard on the Aperçu album.  


On the desk:

Cowboy Songs: I have finished a final draft of "The Cowboy's Meditation", which awaits final formatting and editing.  This is the third composed movement of Cowboy Songs for baritone voice, violin, cello and piano.  Next week I start on a fourth movement... stay tuned!  

New Arrangements for the Pioneer Consort are on the desk.  I am arranging several English Renaissance lute pieces for banjar, violin, and cello - a modern version of the broken consort to be performed in Old Deerfield, MA on July 7.   This is an repertoire that I played on lute years ago, and am excited to revisit for banjar in either lute or guitar tuning.   The set will include: "Mr. Southcote's Pavane and Galliard" by Thomas Ford, The "Flatt Pavin and Galliard" by John Jonson, and "My Lord Willoughby His Welcome Home" by John Dowland.  

A New Composition by Zeke Hecker is in the works for seven -string banjar, violin and cello.  This will be the first chamber work composed for the New Classic Banjo Project. The work will be a multi-sectional dance suite in a modern compositional idiom.  I'm excited to have the NCBP expanding again this year.  

I would welcome new proposals from composers for the project.  Composers can read about the banjar and the New Classic Banjo Project on the website.

Msc. Thoughts

Lately, creative works have been generated in dreams and in that half-sleep restlessness of the second-sleep time from 3 or 4 am to morning waking.  The music of "The Cowboy's Meditation" came almost fully formed in dream state, which I woke up and wrote down before it vanished.  

In 1990 I composed melodies with simple guitar chord accompaniment to eight songs from the Lomax collection for my friend and musical collaborator, tenor Richard Fiske. It has been my intention to compose classical settings for these tunes for some time. The choice of Voice, Piano, Violin, and Cello seemed to echo the aesthetics of the cowboy bar-room, (Note: cartoonist Gary Larson often portrayed the cowboy bar band with a tenor banjoist)  and is the instrumentation Beethoven used for his many folk song settings.

Cowboy Songs, set for Piano trio (Violin, Cello, Piano) and Voice, features lyrics from the John and Alan Lomax collection of Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads (Revised and Enlarged), Macmillan, 1959.

I'll post more expansive notes on this song cycle as I get closer to finishing the set and prepare it for performance.


Upcoming Events

6.8.24 Montague Music Festival,  Twice as Smart, Michael Nix and Gloria Matlock 3 pm
“Good Music Makes Good Neighbors”
The Pergola
67 Main Street
Montague Center, Ma 01351

6.19.24 Juneteenth Celebration, Twice as Smart/Musica Franklin with Michael Nix
Beacon Field
Greenfield, MA 01301

Twice as Smart with Gloria Matlock and Michael Nix, Guitar
LAVA Center for the Arts
324 Main Street, Greenfield, MA. 01301

7.7.24 Old Deerfield Sunday Afternoon Series, 3 pm
Michael Nix with the Pioneer Consort
Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association
10 Memorial St, Deerfield, MA 01342

7.14.24 Shelburne Falls Porch Festival 11 am - 6 pm
Michael Nix, solo Banjar

7.20.24 LAVA Center for the Arts Saturday Salon 11 am – 2 Pm
LAVA Center for the Arts
324 Main Street, Greenfield, MA. 01301

8.9.24 GFDC Coffeehouse, Michael Nix and Gloria Matlock, 7 pm
Great Falls Discovery Center
2 Avenue A
Turners Falls, MA 01376


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