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Commissions, Contracts, Classes, and Chilled Champagne

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Evan Fein is a fourth-year D.M.A. student in composition, an ear-training teaching fellow, and he also recently joined the Pre-College ear-training faculty. The days of a freelance composer—and teacher and student—tend to be a bit madcap, and September 19 was a typical whirlwind.

Evan Fein
(Photo by Gwendolyn Lash)

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7:45 a.m. Woke up in my cozy, modest, overpriced Upper West Side room. I share a four-bedroom flat with a soprano and a harpist (both Juilliard grads), a financier, and a little white French bulldog named Schubert. Snooze...

7:54 a.m. The second volley of iPhone marimbas tells me it’s time to start the day. Grab a quick shower, make some tea, and check my messages. Two e-mails of note: The first a contract I must sign, scan, and return immediately for the video interview I’m filming this afternoon, the second an inquiry about scoring a short film. It’s still nighttime in L.A., so I reply to that one second (the answer: I’ll take it!).

9:15 a.m. After some internal debate over which suit will look best on film, I catch the No. 1 train to Lincoln Center. On a good day the ride is eight minutes; during rush hour, it takes about twice that, with the added pleasure of getting very close with some complete strangers. 

9:45 a.m. Every Wednesday morning, all the ear training teachers meet together with Mary Anthony Cox [B.M. ’65, M.S. ’67, piano; ear training faculty since 1964] to review the past week. We discuss who came to our coachings and devise strategies to help students who are in particular need. This lasts about 45 minutes. More than 200 students are enrolled in ear training this year, so it’s a lot to keep track of. I personally co-teach three courses at the college level—and four more at the pre-college.

11 a.m. One ear training student has been assigned to me for weekly one-on-one sessions. Everyone gets to Juilliard from different backgrounds, and it’s always a pleasure to help people get to where they need to be. These tutorings are usually pretty relaxed and fun.

12 p.m. Last Saturday was the first day of Pre-College. Now that I’ve met my classes, I need to start making lesson plans and plotting out the next few weeks. 

1 p.m. Meeting my friend John Brancy for lunch at [Lincoln Center] Atrium. John created the lead male role in the production of my opera The Raven’s Kiss last spring. Vocal Arts students have a particularly demanding schedule, so it’s always nice when we can manage to coordinate and touch base. 

2:30 p.m. Enter the Meredith Willson Theater. Juilliard is developing a series of online music courses with an outside company, and I’ve been asked to film short demonstrations to make the experience more interactive. They’ve set up a Steinway in the middle of the black box surrounded by a small fleet of lights and cameras. A little intimidating, but once the interview is under way, I start having a really good time. They ask if they can film me composing, so I do a little demo. This course will be used by up to 45,000 students in 26 states, so I hope I looked good and said some useful things. 

4:15 p.m. It’s been an alarmingly long time since my last visit to the dentist, and my roommates have been tormenting me about the fact. Juilliard Health Services suggested N.Y.U. School of Dentistry. I book it down to the Lower East Side.

7:15 p.m. No cavities! The price was right but the appointment took a really long time since they use patients as teaching tools—guess I’m doing a lot of demos today. And now I’m late. Some of our friends are leaving town in the morning, and we’re having a little bon voyage party at my place at 8 p.m.

7:56 p.m. I get off the train at 96th Street and realize I’ve forgotten to eat dinner. I grab a couple hot dogs from a vendor. Still wearing my suit. 

8:07 p.m. I burst into my apartment to find that our guests are all going to be fashionably late. There is bottle of (fake) champagne on ice, and several more chilling in the fridge. 

8:40 p.m. Our guests finally start arriving. Our apartment has gotten a reputation for its salon-style gatherings, so several people have brought instruments. I recently acquired an upright piano, and it’s not long before the music begins. We have quite a collection of singers, guitarists, classical and jazz pianists in attendance, so the program is eclectic. At the piano, sipping some champagne, surrounded by friends belting Cole Porter, life seems pretty good. Schubert is barking in the background; he doesn’t really like music.

1’ish a.m. We bid our final guests adieu. Astonished that none of the neighbors have complained about the unusually lively Wednesday night activities, I go back to my room to turn in. Then I understand. There’s a construction crew right outside my window, tearing up the street. Mayor Bloomberg, if you’re reading this, can you please do something? If you’re gonna take away my large sodas, at least let me get some sleep!

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