Simple Gifts is my first work that was rehearsed and performed in public. It is my debut work as a composer and a conductor, and I am forever indebted to Dr. Martha Placeres for giving me my first opportunity at composing music for real musicians.
It started in Summer of 2011, when I was asked to compose a piece for the B-SMART Orchestra in Brownsville, Texas. I wrote this, and the dissonances turned out to be much too difficult for elementary-level students. (I had never thought that younger musicians would have trouble playing minor seconds - but I was a percussionist that had mostly fixed pitches. Whoops...) Instead of B-SMART playing the piece, the director mentioned that I should send it to the orchestra director at school. I did, and I was asked if the string orchestra could perform it later that year on their October program. I accepted, and I was extremely excited to be asked to conduct the work for the premiere. I was still only in my first semester of conducting courses as an education major in my undergraduate, so I was thrilled and yet the most nervous I'd ever been until that point in my life. When walking out onto the stage to conduct, I made sure to give the musicians a big smile and the confidence in them to play this piece along with the confidence to trust me and not screw it up. Before I knew it, the piece was over and I had taken my bow before walking off the stage. How little did I know that I would soon become addicted to that feeling and would pursue endlessly.
Simple Gifts was given its premiere in October 2011, and it is dedicated to Dr. Martha Placeres.