23 September 2014

The Mystic Trumpeter, rehearsal II

Had a splendid, energizing, productive rehearsal with Evelyn last night.  She has, not surprisingly, learnt the piece better . . . or perhaps it is a bit of a surprise - since we rehearsed last just Friday, and she had a very musically busy weekend (she is singing in a local production of Carmen).  So we made good progress, rehearsing section by section in order . . . and then, I asked her if she had steam enough to try running the lot, and seeing where we were.  That run-through was not perfect, but the piece is in a very encouraging state.  For after all, the concert is not until 7 October; and we rehearse again this Friday.

And from the clarinetist's perspective:  just playing through the piece twice is a fine, robust practicing routine . . . .

Program Note for a Piece Which No Longer Exists in Quite That Form

The Tower Room Is Empty (in memoriam Wm A. Goodwin)

Having in mind the complexities, asymmetries, and rhythmic challenges of so much new music, Bill joked with me several times that I could write anything for him, anything at all, so long as it was (1) in C Major, (2) in 4/4 time, (3) written all in whole-notes, and (4) marked Largo. In fact, Bill was a great sport, and responded uncomplainingly to the changes in meter which frequently appear in my music. There were many occasions when Bill invited me to play clarinet as part of the service at this church, and he accompanied. For this elegiac piece, then, it seemed to me fitting (first) to compose a piece with a free, seemingly improvisatory rhythmic profile; and (second) that the piece be for clarinet unaccompanied, since Mr Goodwin is no longer at the console of the E.&G.G. Hook organ to which he was so affectionately devoted.

[Postscript: the sketches I made for The Tower Room Is Empty have since been subsumed into the cello and piano piece, ...illa existimans quia hortulanus esset... This latter piece assumes the Op.121 number which I had originally reserved for The Tower Room Is Empty.]

21 September 2014

A mere statistic

Number of calypso anthems for which I drew up electric bass and maraca parts, Sep 1981 to Aug 2014:  0

Number of calypso anthems for which I drew up electric bass and maraca parts, Sep 2014:  2

(I do it for love of my choir.)

Evening before last

Friday's rehearsal of The Mystic Trumpeter with Evelyn Griffin was a blast;  an excellent start, and we have ample time for rehearsal and polish, so the 7 October performance should be cracking!

One funny thing is:  we read through it section by section, and I decided to start with what is probably the easiest section, Bring the old pageants--show the feudal world.  Anyway, we hopped from section to section, and at one point where we stopped and needed to restart, we had trouble, because Evelyn told me a measure number, and I began playing, but she got thrown off somehow.  At that point in the score, my part and the score were a measure off!  I assured her that I would clean it up later, and now that we knew that was the problem, we adjusted and continued rehearsing.  Turned out that at one seam where there was a silent pause (in time), I had decided there was a little too much time, so I changed what had been two 6/8 measures into a single 9/8 measure.  That was how Evelyn's score (correctly) read, yet I hadn't made that change in the clarinet part.

NORMALLY:  any change to the score results in changes through all the parts belonging to that file.  But:  I had created a separate file for the clarinet part . . . since the clarinet is in A, but the singer should have a score in C, the lowest notes would be on illegibly numerous leger lines, so for the score I resorted to occasionally casting the clarinet part in bass clef.  Hence the need for a separate file for the clarinet part, since practically no clarinetist will find odd bits in bass clef intelligible.

20 September 2014

A little Christmas

A little to my own surprise, I managed to get the choral score for Sweetest Ancient Cradle Song done today . . . and I only started it at perhaps ten o'clock this morning. To be sure, the task went much smoother in Sibelius than I ever worked with Finale. And this very morning I learnt a method, or a task, which greatly simplified the process of reducing the brass quintet to two (or at times three) staves. That work done, layout and page flow remained. After the first pass, the choral score ran to 42pp., but there were perhaps 4-5 pages on which there was only a single system. After a walk, a quick grocery run, and supper, I reduced the staff size slightly . . . and then re-flowed the pages afresh, getting the choral score down to 37pp. Now, to print a proof of the shorter of the two, to confirm that it is as legible as I wish.

19 September 2014

Trumpeter, Ho!

Smashing first rehearsal with Evelyn. This piece will rock Boston to its beany foundation.

Small steps

Word is in from Kirstin: The Op.121 will go on in April 2015, at the Rivers Conservatory Contemporary Seminar.

No progress with the flute choir adaptation of the Agnus Dei; it will happen someday.

Scintillating whispers of making some music out in Colorado . . . I have some ideas.

Wednesday, I had a nice chat with Paul, and at their first rehearsal the chorus found the Op.123 a bit of a challenge (which does not surprise me), though Paul feels that nothing is insurmountable (which does not surprise me, either). He will rehearse most of the solos as sections, and may leave many of them that way for the performance (which is fine). He called the opening imitative Dona nobis pacem "gorgeous," which was of course highly gratifying.