The Many Side Projects of Dr. Brett Abigaña

In addition to being BUA’s longtime and beloved music teacher, Dr. Brett Abigaña is a nationally-known, highly in-demand composer and conductor who crisscrosses the country (and beyond!) showcasing his talents. In the past year alone, hiss work has taken him from Hawai’i to Mystic, CT, from the hallowed chambers of Carnegie Hall to the toes-in-the-sand amphitheater on Cape Cod’s National Seashore. 

In December of 2022, Dr. Abigaña traveled to Chicago to present his music at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, and in February did the same at the California State Music Educators Conference, where he met conductors and educators from all over the west coast, had performances of his music, and discussed new projects.

A new music podcast, “Off the Shelf,” was born from one of these conversations. The first episode has been recorded and will be launched in the coming months (stay tuned!). This summer, he was a guest on fellow composer Sergio Barer’s podcast “Let’s Talk About Music.”  

In March of 2023, Dr. Abigaña traveled to Honolulu, Hawai’i as the Composer-In-Residence for the Pacific Basin Music Festival, a position he’s held for the past five years. The following month, he made a quick day trip to New York City to host the New York International Music Festival Concert at Carnegie Hall. He returned to Carnegie Hall this past June as Composer-In-Residence for the New York Sounds of Summer Music Festival, where his piece “At First Sight” had its world premiere. 

In May, Dr. Abigaña received a commission from the US Naval Academy to write a piece commemorating the appointment of the female Superintendent of the USNA. The piece, a new oratorio tentatively titled “Athena’s Ascent,” honors women in leadership generally and in Naval leadership specifically, and will be performed in January of 2024 by the USNA Band and USNA Women’s chorus, along with a soprano soloist and the USNA Chapel Organ, the largest drawbar organ in the world. In preparation for this premiere, the USNA Admiral has ordered a complete inspection of the structural integrity of the USNA Chapel, a piece of which was broken off as a result of the sympathetic vibrations of the organ music Dr. Abigaña wrote for his last USNA commission. Dr. A. shares that “I’ve secretly been in touch with the organist, and he’s up for the challenge of breaking the chapel just a little bit more with some very loud organ music.”

Many teachers use summer months as a chance to rest and recharge. Not Dr. A. This year, the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra commissioned him for a new piece to be premiered at their July 4th concert. Unfortunately, the concert was canceled due to rain; fortunately, it was rescheduled to later in the summer, which means you haven’t missed it! The piece is called The Lamp Beside the Golden Door, and will accompany a reading of “The New Colossus,” Emma Lazarus’s famous poem about the Statue of Liberty. You can catch this free concert on Thursday, August 24 at 7:00 p.m. at the National Seashore Amphitheatre in Eastham, MA; lawn chairs and picnics encouraged! 

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