A couple weeks ago, we tracked down Jake Runestad, home for a few short days in his Uptown condo. It was a great pleasure--Jake is relaxed, warm, articulate, passionate, upbeat.
Jake is IN DEMAND as composer and clinician--over the weekend he was in NYC having his music conducted by Anton Armstrong in Carnegie Hall. This week he's resident composer with Choral Arts Ensemble of Portland, OR (the OTHER CAE). Then a stop as clinician at University of Washington Choral Festival, followed by UW-LaCrosse residency, then on to Chicago Composers Orchestra at the beginning of May!
Jake's fresh and unique choral writing is understandably popular and widely performed around the country and around the world. When we came to visit, Jake explained that he'll usually take a text, memorize it, then go take a long walk along the Greenway in Minneapolis (just outside his door) and "see what comes." Often the piece is taking shape by the time he sits down to write.
In the case of MY SONG, written for Choral Arts Ensemble in 2015, Jake reports that he composed exclusively away from the keyboard (walking), then came home to write it all down. He brought out a manuscript of his first draft, which was amazingly clean, legible, and with precious few corrections. It did NOT look like Beethoven, full of variant sketches and painstaking revision. It looked like Mozart (who once wrote to his father that a piece "had all been composed, but not written yet")!