• strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/tortcur8/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/tortcur8/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 607.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/tortcur8/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 607.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_boolean_operator::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/tortcur8/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_boolean_operator.inc on line 159.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/tortcur8/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 134.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/tortcur8/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 134.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/tortcur8/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/tortcur8/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/tortcur8/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.


If you've been to Tortoiseshell Music in the past few months looking for new pieces, new blog entries, or any kind of new content at all, you may have come away disappointed. The fact is, I am on indefinite hiatus from composing, and this has extended to my other activities on Tortoiseshell Music as well. I don't know whether I will return to composing in the future, but at this juncture it just isn't in the cards.

One thing I have been doing to take the place of composition is writing puzzles. If you are so inclined, check out my puzzle page for some of my recent creations. So long, and thanks for all the fish.


Hello, and welcome to Tortoiseshell Music! I'm Nathan Curtis, the "Tortoise" of Tortoiseshell Music, and I'd like to share some of my music, writings about music, and sundry other scribbles and scrawls. I hope you find something to enjoy here.

I've only just finished putting this site together, though I will continue to add new compositions, blog posts, and other pages as I go along. For now, you might be interested in learning a bit more about me, checking out my compositions, or reading my assorted ramblings on my blog. And if you want to make your mark on my site, feel free to leave comments, or contact me directly. Go! Explore! Have fun!

News has a kind of mystery...

...well, maybe not so much with this news. But then, my news is hardly as exciting as Nixon landing in China (and be thankful I didn't type out the title with all the repetitions James Maddalena sings). But I have good news and bad news and more good news!

First, the bad news: my second recital did not get recorded. It was completely my fault. I spent 20 minutes before the recital setting up the mics and checking sound levels on my digital recording studio, and when it came time for the recital to begin, I forgot to actually press "record." Seconds after playing the final chord of the last piece on the program, this oversight dawned on me, and a quick look at the studio confirmed this. It's tough for me to juggle the roles of composer, performer, sound engineer, and many others all at once, but that's the path I've chosen for now. C'est la vie.

But there is also good news! I have finished editing the recordings from the first recital, and Anarchist Nut: Live at the Lily Pad is now available at the store. You can purchase individual works, or the complete recital, with or without my spoken introductions and segues. Please allow me to tempt you with the following tracks:

Four Little Preludes, no. 3 (Nathan Curtis, piano)
"Panic" from Song and Dance: Panic and Repose (Nathan Curtis, piano)
"Skinny Domicile (Emily Dickinson)" from the Holy Tango Songbook (text by Francis Heaney; Lorinne Lampert, mezzo-soprano; Stephen Williams, piano)

Well, what are you waiting for? Go and make me rich!

Oh, wait! Come back! I had one more bit news to share. This weekend, as part of their festival celebrating T.J. Anderson's 80th birthday, Tufts University is presenting a memorial concert for composer Jennifer Fitzgerald, who died of breast cancer last December. I will be performing Lyric Homage, a new composition based on fragments from Jennifer's Lyric II. For more information, see the event listing here.

Recital 2: Electric Boogaloo

It's been over two weeks since my last%20recital, and I still haven't written about it. I'm sorry to have kept you waiting, but that's because I've been so busy working on the next recital, which is zomg tomorrow. I'll tell you about the upcoming recital in a second, but first let me tell you about the last one. My recital on August 30th, which I named "Anarchist Nut," went quite well. In particular, the premiere of the Holy Tango Songbook was excellent, with guest performers Lorinne Lampert and Stephen Williams doing a great job singing and playing piano, respectively. Also, Francis Heaney gave a number of readings from his delightful Holy Tango of Literature, which may be worth the price of admission all by themselves. For my own part, I faltered a bit in the two older pieces on the recital -- I somehow managed to make mistakes I had never before made, not in several hours of practicing -- but held my own on the new works. Several people have told me that they couldn't hear the mistakes, which is understandable since they don't know what was supposed to happen at those points, but a little discomforting to me as a composer, because that means that the audience was reacting to something other than what I had written. Yes, that's a bit egotistical of me, especially for something so trifling as a couple of wrong notes out of however many pieces, but I am hardly the only egotistical composer in the world. I've been working on editing the recordings from the recital, and I hope to have them up for sale sometime next week. To whet your appetite, here are Lorinne and Stephen singing "Skinny Domicile" (after Emily Dickinson) from the Holy Tango Songbook. And, lest I forget, I want to give a hearty thank you Lorinne, Stephen, and Francis for their invaluable assistance in putting on this recital. So, now we come to my next recital, which is, as I mentioned before, tomorrow. This one is called "Musical Hydra," as I will be playing a lot of new music on a lot of instruments -- specifically, bass trombone, flute, and piano. In addition to my own works, I will be playing pieces by fellow Tufts graduates Beau Kenyon and Warren Weberg, as well as my advisor John McDonald. "Musical Hydra" will also be recorded, and I hope to get those recordings online sometime in the next two or three weeks. But why wait for the recording when you can come hear it yourself? Again, for more details please see the event listing.

Upcoming recitals!

I am pleased to announce my first performances since...well, since I launched Tortoiseshell Music. If you live in the Boston area and would like to hear my music, now's your chance. I will be playing two afternoon recitals at the Lily Pad in Cambridge on Saturday, August 30 and Saturday, September 13. For more details, see my concert listings for the 30th and the 13th.

I am looking forward to both performances, but I am especially excited about the first one, which is barely a week away now. This recital will feature the premiere of the first installment of my Holy Tango Songbook, for which I will be joined by some special guests. In the Holy Tango Songbook, I have set poems from Francis Heaney's The Holy Tango of Literature, which is a wonderful collection of literary parodies inspired by anagrams of the original authors' names. I first started to set some of these poems to music back in 2006, and now I get to share the first batch of six songs, still warm from the oven (There are many other poems from The Holy Tango that I would like to set, so expect additional installments in the future). When I informed Francis of my recital plans, he graciously offered to come up from New York to give an introduction and readings. Since Francis and I are both members of the National Puzzlers' League, I decided to seek out other NPL members to round out the performance, so I will be joined by mezzo-soprano Lorinne Lampert and pianist Stephen Williams. Lorinne and Francis both came up from New York for a rehearsal last weekend (while Stephen came from the South Shore), and it was fantastic. Hopefully I won't be shown up as a charlatan for my efforts at singing baritone alongside.

Anyway, Francis, Lorinne, and Stephen have all been very helpful in putting this performance together, and I encourage you to come on August 30 and hear the results. Sadly, I can not fill a full recital with the Holy Tango songs, so you will have to sit through some piano and flute solos beforehand. But maybe you're into that sort of thing. (I shouldn't judge; that would be incredibly hypocritical.) If it is your sort of thing, then you should ALSO come to the recital on the September 13, where I will be playing solo works on piano, bass trombone, flute, and clarinet. (Strange assortment of instruments, I know. I'll let you know if I learn how to play any others in the next three weeks...) And even if you can't make it on either date, recordings of both performances will be available at the store not too long afterward, with some tracks freely available on the site as well. Isn't that something?

Syndicate content