Aaron Giles

About Me

2019 Year In Review

You know, a year is a long time! Last year I decided to review what went on over the course of the year, and thought it would be fun to do so again.

Music

This was an interesting year musically for a number of reasons.

For one, I got to perform for the first time Sergei Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil in the original Church Slavonic with the Seattle Bach Choir. It was a huge challenge to learn and perform, but the experience was wonderful all around, and it is really one of my most beloved works now.

I also took on the task of coordinating the recording of the Seattle Bach Choir’s first CD, My Spirit Sang All Day. This was, to put it mildly, a ton of work, from finding and working with the recording venues, to arranging schedules, to working with the graphic designers and sound engineers, and all other aspects. I even ended up being quite hands-on in the editing of the final mix, which I think came out wonderfully.

At the end of the season, I decided to take a break from community choir singing for a bit, although I still remain a board member with the Seattle Bach Choir. Also, not taking a break from my own community choir, heh. Speaking of which....

I decided that 2019 was the year to formally make Summer Fling Singers into a 501(c)(3) charity organization, which entailed recruiting a board and filling out a lot of paperwork. But at last it is done (donate here tax-free!) Not surprisingly, I am now president of the board.

Once again I programmed, organized, advertised, laid out the program for, and performed in the Summer Fling Singers’ 4th season, this one a set of 16th century English madrigals inspired by The Tears and Lamentations of a Sorrowful Soul by William Leighton. This year we also participated in the Seattle Sings choral festival in October.

I went the extra mile and hand-crafted all the editions that the Summer Fling Singers sang from this year, adding them to my collection of released engravings over at asgengraving.com.

I continued to sing (mostly) weekly in the Vicars of Christ Church Compline Choir, cantoring more frequently (practice makes perfect), and even running the show a couple of times.

I spent a good chunk of the year doing some composition and arrangement studies with John Muehleisen. Even though I eventually had to stop, I did complete two works. The first was Maumee, a simple 4-part hymn, which we were able to sing at church one Sunday. The second is a fun arrangement of Masters in This Hall, which I hope to convince a local director to try sometime.

Related to composition, I wrote the first draft of an English language libretto for Georgius Zrunek’s Missa 1. pro festis Natalitiis. Hopefully after another cleanup pass I will incorporate it into my existing score for wide release.

I continued my work as a board member of the Greater Seattle Choral Consortium, taking over as treasurer. This motivated me to integrate payment tracking into our internal systems to greatly streamline the process of membership renewal.

I decided to take a break from voice lessons early in the year, which turned out to be fortuitous since my voice teacher announced a career change a few months later!

On a whim in late summer, I asked my Facebook community if they knew how one would go about learning to play the lute. Turns out, there are several good players and teachers in the Seattle area. Intrigued, I began taking lessons in September and am really enjoying it! I have even taken the plunge and ordered a custom-built one for myself (you can’t exactly find them in your local music shop).

Programming

At work I finished implementing mitigations for the Spectre & Meltdown explots on ARM64-based processors. Beyond that, I continued to do things I can’t really talk about, so that’s all I have to say about that.

I decided this year I wanted to write my own SoundFont-based synthesizer for use on my rehearsaltracks.net site. I started off writing it in pure C++, then tried re-writing it in Rust for fun, then decided that that wasn’t really much fun at all, and finally completed it in C++ as originally planned. It is now deployed as the default player when you visit the site; hopefully nobody noticed the switch.

On a similar note (ha!) I’ve always wanted people to be able to save MP3 versions of the reherasal tracks, so I decided to write my own MP3 encoder. I found a reference implementation, gutted it, vastly simplified it, and now it is also part of the site. Also, it will be handy for future project ideas I have.

I also continued to make improvements to my existing suite of utilities and tools for importing MIDI files into my rehearsal tracks.

Web Development

As mentioned above, I converted my rehearsaltracks.net site to use a new home-grown synthesizer, plus added MP3 export support. Beyond that, I did a number of UI tweaks to simplify the interface, and greatly enhanced the bookmarking functionality.

This was also the first year I formally had external clients for the rehearsaltracks.net site. I had always planned to do this eventually, but I’m finally setting things up to better accommodate hosting tracks for other choirs.

Not much changed on this site, except I removed the last bits of jQuery from some pages, and more thoroughly documented my rock concert history, based on doing some aggressive research.

I created a super simplified (private) calorie-tracking site for tracking my own calories in a way that I didn’t find annoying, like all other tracking sites out there. It even makes pretty graphs!

Over on the Greater Seattle Choral Consortium site, the system continues to run pretty smoothly. This year I added Instagram support so members can link to their Instagram sites, and we are now posting weekly on our own Instagram page.

Behind the scenes on the GSCC site, I improved our internal member database to track payments and process them automatically via PayPal, which has greatly simplified the yearly fun of membership renewal.

My page for the Vicars of Christ Church Compline Choir was not quite 100% zero maintenance this year, as we switched from Wednesday to Friday evenings, and thus I had to touch it once.

I added several new works to asgengraving.com, including all the editions I made for Summer Fling Singers, along with a few other pieces that I needed a fresh engraving of for one reason or another.

Finally, I cleaned up and enhanced zrunek.info, adding a page for the second Christmas Mass, redoing the biography page, and adding links to and images of the original manuscripts where available.

Graphic Design

I created the flyer and program for Summer Fling Singers’ 4th concert season.

I created the design and layout for the Seattle Bach Choir’s programs for both the All Night Vigil (Winter 2019) and Leonardo (Spring 2019) concerts.

I also did most of the work for the Fall 2019 program, and then re-created my InDesign project files in Microsoft Publisher so that I could hand off program duties to another choirster. Doing programs is enjoyable work, but less so when you’re not actively involved in the actual singing.

Other Stuff

Starting in April, I began actively tracking calories to try and start my weight on a downward trend. Over the past 10 years or so, I had managed to add almost 50 pounds, and I’m happy to report that as of the end of the year, I’ve managed to undo almost all of the damage. It wasn’t all calorie tracking, however; I also continued my daily workout regimen. The two items together are what really made things happen.

During the summer, we traveled as a family to San Diego (July) and visited the San Francisco Bay Area (August).

In December, I found myself with lots of use-it-or-lose-it vacation days, so we have reshuffled the interior of the house in a number of ways. We moved the wife’s office upstairs and made it livable, got rid of a large amount of junk, and turned the dining room into a gaming room. We hope to finally replace the nearly 20-year-old carpteting/flooring throughout in January.

We also bought a new Mazda CX-5 to replace our 2000 Nissan Altima. While I always resisted the idea of getting an SUV, between last year’s snow and our child’s growth trajectory, I decided that we needed something with decent clearance, all-wheel drive, and headroom to spare.

I continued to delve into fantasy/sci-fi books this year. I’ve started tracking my reading on GoodReads so you can see what I read this year. However, since I don’t trust any website to last forever, he is the list in less glamorous form:

 

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