Ashes
Since I last wrote, I’ve received some big news: I won the Nashville Philharmonic Orchestra’s Composition Competition with my new work, “Out of Ashes.”  The premiere is one week from today, and to say I’m thrilled and excited and honored doesn’t even begin to express how I feel about this!

The premiere will take place at 7:30 PM on May 3rd, at Brentwood United Methodist Church in Brentwood, TN.  Also, there will be a second performance on May 10th at 7:30 PM at the Gordon Jewish Community Center.  All of you are invited, and admission is free.

I’ve had the chance to attend a few rehearsals, and it was wonderful to hear live musicians playing what I’ve heard in my head for months.  Honestly, hearing an orchestra play it for the first time was one of the best feelings in the world…  And based on what I’ve heard, I can tell you that the NPO is going to give a great performance next week, so I hope those of you in Nashville will come.

There have been so many things that had to fall into place perfectly to make this performance possible—and somehow, everything has worked out.  When I think of it all, I really feel like there’s Someone out there looking out for me….

Most of all, I know there wouldn’t even be an “Out of Ashes” if it weren’t for the difficult times I went through a few years ago.  I used to wish I could take it all back, but now I’ve realized that to do so would take away the depth in my music.

I don’t want to give away too much about “Out of Ashes” before the premiere, but I can tell you that it picks up where my solo piano piece, “Agitato” left off and then goes to places you might not expect.  There’s a lot of agitation and chaos in parts of it, but there are also a lot of soaring melodies.  “Out of Ashes” is centered around two main musical themes: Hope and Despair, and one of them slowly emerges and swallows up the other.  Which one wins?  Well, you’ll have to come to the premiere to find out!

Simply completing “Out of Ashes” has been a victory for me as a composer because of how much I’ve grown through writing it and because of the story behind the piece.   But now, to have also won this competition and to have the opportunity to hopefully move others with my work—it shows that beauty really can come out of ashes.

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About Shelby Rawlings Blalock

I'm a 21-year-old composer, pianist, music producer, audio engineer, and GRAMMY Camp 2012 alum. My neoclassical, self-produced piano album "Airborne" is available now on iTunes.

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