This album is both a tribute and attributable to my music teacher, Bruce Donnelly. For four years until his passing in 2018—way too early—we delved deeply into music in a way I never knew was possible. I came to Bruce to learn orchestration. Our lessons quickly morphed from orchestration to the comprehensive study of music. Often exceeding three-hour sessions, we traveled throughout musical genres, touching a small portion of Bruce’s vast knowledge of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Ravel, Mahler, Rogers & Hammerstein, Oscar Peterson, George Shearing, Sammy Nestico, Henry Mancini, Billy May, Nelson Riddle, Bruce’s teacher Albert Harris, his friend Mike Garson (David Bowie’s keyboard player), and the other historic greats. I hadn’t ever considered I would be studying and writing music for full orchestra, big band, and string quartet, spanning classical, jazz, Broadway, and more, studying music down to cycles per second, learning about musical life and, sadly, death.
The fruit of our studies is the seven pieces of music in Unexpected Lessons, touching on the seemingly disparate styles of music we explored. Two pieces for 64-piece orchestra recorded at Budapest Scoring in Hungary, two big band jazz songs recorded at SkyMuse Studios in Seattle, Washington, two string quartets recorded at Spragueland Studios in San Diego, and one chamber orchestra piece recorded at Studio West, San Diego.
~ Michael David Singer, San Diego, CA 2019
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To: The Budapest Scoring Orchestra and Ron Jones’ SkyMuse Recording Studios; my wife Sabina, whose proclamations “this is my new favorite” each time I play her a new idea help my writing more than one could ever imagine; my life teacher Robert A. Johnson, who also passed away in 2018; video editing by Jon Fordham, friend for life; Virgil Murray, my first music teacher; my Mom, my original inspiration at age 6; my Dad, for playing all those Oscar Peterson and Frank Sinatra records on the Hi-Fi; and mostly to anyone who listens to this music and likes it.