18 December 2014

Not idle, no, not I

Day before yesterday, I resumed work on The Mysterious Fruit; a little work each day, and it may be done by year's-end.

Settled on the music for Christmas Eve, including an unaccompanied clarinet piece which I need to write (but that is what the weekend is for).

Should get some of the audio from the Christmas concert up on-line, while the season is still imminent (or, as some maintain, already in swing).

17 December 2014

The 13 Days of Zappaness: Day 5

Day 5, “Manx Needs Women” (from Zappa in New York)

16 December 2014

Corrigendum approaching

In glancing over the PDF of the Agnus Dei, I find that I mistyped the text in one measure of the soprano line. I am inclined to correct it, although the Lamb of God doth also take away Mindy's sins, verily.

Divers thoughts and all

Just the Odd Echo of an Idea Probably Expressed Better by Someone Else Dept.

In an environment where even the ensembles dedicated to New Music(tm) consider no living composer's work worth their attention unless it conforms to the trend(s) they promote, or unless it is Socially Relevant(tm), the composer who goes back to First Things, and the idea that the artist's highest mission is to bring more Beauty of exquisite craft into the world, this composer is the real radical.

Beautiful music, by God, does not ever mean tedious music. Let's be clear there.

You Never Know Dept.

Attended a very interesting, and (I say with some personal caution) potentially fructiferous meeting. As much as I dislike meetings (though I see the need for [some of] them), this one was much better than most. Met an assortment of smart and affable fellow musicians. The idea is to organize a choral group, consisting of composer-conductor-singers, dedicated to work by living composers, which will in fact sing nothing older than written 25 years ago (as of the moving present) . . . not that there is anything wrong with the old music, there are just hundreds of groups to serve the already-established lit.

We shall see.

And one of my new colleagues has already permitted me to send a copy of the Op.123, A Song of Remembrance.

Can't Say I Didn't Try Dept.

Earlier this month I re-visited El Niño, and it was ultimately a worthwhile endeavor. My opinion, my ears, but the piece still fits my "Adams model" of [some genuinely excellent work] mitigated by both [stretches of BAU (business as usual)] and [But does it seal the deal as an Overall Composition?]

So, what was good about the process was, that the long stretches, entire numbers, which (basically) soon grow uninteresting to me (and never quite recover), I endured, and found the odd number in the whole which is Adams at his best (it happens too seldom, but it does happen). A fellow composer really likes this piece, and now I could have a reasonably informed conversation with him about it.

I may not come back to this for another two or three years; and there is still the question Were even the best bits worth the tooth-pulling? Not sure that there was actual redemption. But I did discover some excellent music hidden away amid all the dross (YMMV).

The 13 Days of Zappaness: Day 4

Day 4, “Twenty Small Cigars” (from Chunga’s Revenge)

15 December 2014

The 13 Days of Zappaness: Day 3

Day 3, “Moggio”

The day after

My choir sang a Christmas concert yesterday, and I am unalloyedly proud of them, they did so bravely and well.  It was an ambitious program for them, but their hearts remained strong, and they stayed with me.  Certainly there was the occasional mistake, but overall they carried the program;  and we had a large and thoroughly appreciative audience.

Put thus succinctly, it’s going to give the impression that the concert was The Karl Henning Show, but in fact I was complimented by many for the balance and mix of the program . . . the Henningmusick on the concert was:

Le tombeau de W.A.G., Op.122 (original version for low brass trio, and a première)
The Allegro grazioso closing section of the Sinfonietta, Op.38 (brass quintet)
In the shadow of the kindly Star, Op.126 № 2 (violin solo and handbells, première)
Musette, Op.118 № 7 (handbells)
Sweetest Ancient Cradle Song, Op.67 (choir, brass quintet & organ, première of the piece in its entirety)
The Snow Lay on the Ground, Op.68b (children’s choir, mixed choir, handbells, violin solo & organ, première of this version)

Anne Bennett (also an alto in my choir) is the director of the children’s choir, and they did smashingly.  In fact, they stole the show (earlier in the program than my Op.68b, they had a set of three numbers they sang on their own).  Rachel Wimmer stood out for her lovely violin playing. The handbells were of course a hit, as well.  And the brass (although there was the odd clam or missed note – they’ve had a lot of music to blow this weekend) did splendidly;  and they all warmly complimented the composer.

Even with the imperfections of execution, I am elated to have brought the Op.67 to an audience (and to so large an audience!) at last.

The church in Wayland is also doing The Snow Lay on the Ground, though I do not know just when.

I haven't checked the audio, but I had a go at recording the entire concert.

Followers of The Henningmusick Chronicles know both, that my Micro Track recorder runs only about half an hour on a fully charged battery, and that the outlets at HTUMC are not grounded, so that it's worthless trying to use the Micro Track plugged into those outlets.

Although this possibility was not in my mind when I initially ordered the Jackery® portable charger (I was simply thinking about maintaining the charge for the cell phone), I had the happy thought (or, I hope the result affirms the happiness of the thought) that I might try running the Micro Track, with the power cord plugged into the J.® p. ch.

In all events, Charles also recorded the entire concert.  So with luck, we shall have two documents of the concert.