20 May 2016

Back in, under the radar

So, what's new?

Been watching quite a lot of Hitchcock lately, partly driven by my sister's having turned me on to The Trouble With Harry.

One big, pleasant surprise in recent viewing: Woody Allen's Love and Death, a most welcome reminder that when he keeps the whining to a certain level, his comedies can remain artfully comic, rather than a referendum on how self-absorbed the director can be.

We had a very good Triad concert, and "post-mortem" group meeting. This remains a group with a future (rather than, a group which half a year ago had a future). [That was a counter-example, not a diagnosis.] We have a new President (since our most warmly esteemed David Harris has now Gone West), and one of our latest singer-members has stepped in to fill the Secretary's office (since it is our former Sec. who has been promoted to the Presidency). The goals for the next season include: increased publicity, more fundraising, securing venues so that we sing each program at least twice, and to pay the singers.

I've agreed to serve as a sort of co-chair with Julian Bryson of the Composer/Repertory Committee. I am keen to begin to incorporate some Luke Ottevanger in our programming beginning this next season, perhaps with The Lamb for starters.

Oh, Henningmusick, you ask? We have sent a courtesy score of the Op.92 Passion According to St John to David Hoose; and we shall see.

Frank Grimes, of Ensemble Aubade, has now written, and he is enthusiastic about The Mousetrap. The plans for the 21 June concert having changed in the time since I had refreshed my outreach to Frank, we are aiming for 18 October. Looks like I may have more clarinet practicing in my future, and this may be a driver for proceeding with the Clarinet Sonata.

Further Ensemble Aubade news: I am officially invited to compose a seven-minute piece for them, to be premièred in November. Their management has already begun publicizing the event and piece, so I was asked for a title . . . I have settled on Oxygen Footprint. [It was but an idle hang-over from St Paul days (Ed Broms era), but my initial sketch for this trio bears the working title Ray Charles Needs Soloists.]

For the 21 June concert at King's Chapel, I am building fixed media backing for a wind quartet, the music to serve as a counterpoint to Maria Bablyak creating artwork in real time, a joint performance.

It may be time soon to attend to the Gloria, and be done at last with the Mass.  Since the Triad repertory committee has, as a provisional goal, the planning of concerts four programs out, perhaps I should suggest a grand première of the Henning Mass.

18 May 2016

Plus ça change ...

There is a hint of change in the air, though it will not take effect until winter.  A mildly sad change, but one positive result is, a return to regular collaboration with our much-esteemed Paul Cienniwa.

This is a mad week, with Cantata Singers rehearsals and concert eating up, nay, devouring, three weeknights, and cutting into two nights' rest. When I shall have caught my breath, I expect to consider it time gratifyingly spent; participation in this Pärt piece may be a rare Boston-area opportunity, and the two Bach scores I have never sung before.

15 May 2016

Triad III

Last night, we sang our third concert as Triad: Boston's Choral Collective. In a bravura display of technique, artistry & assurance, Maria agreed (in the space of less than two weeks) to create two panels, to flank the choir as a visual element of the performance, on motifs drawn from the texts we sang last night.

26 January 2016

Another Think Came

Inspired in part (and mysteriously) by a beautiful program played by the Boston Symphony on Saturday night, Sunday afternoon and evening I made my way to the end of the first movement of the Clarinet Sonata. I did not rush overmuch, but I did have a very slight nagging sensation that I might want to change the ending . . . the last two measures represented a substantial improvement on the first version, which does not survive even in a draught, but there was something which felt just a little rushed about the last gesture. And the whole movement felt to me so sure-footed, I should hate to stumble just at the end.

Yesterday morning (Monday), I felt better about the ending, perhaps 92.4% inclined to leave it as is (well, as was, as will be clear presently). At lunchtime, I read through the score, and an idea came to me for a slight change. (The ending was close enough, that even the improvement should not be over-engineered.) For the space or perhaps two hours, I even fancied I might try a third change, and if I felt roughly the same about all of them, that I might even encode in the score a performer's choice from among three possible endings.

But when I revised the ending late yesterday afternoon, the new ending sounds so perfectly right, that is that.

Oh, and on the bus ride home from the office, I made a start on Boulez est mort, which will start piano-only. For three whole minutes? Well, we shall see.

Tim Phillips wrote from Alabama last night, asking for an E-flat contra-alto part to substitute for the B-flat contrabass in Saltmarsh Stomp. There are only two notes which are too low for the contra-alto clarinet, and it does no serious hurt to the texture to cast those two notes an octave higher.

20 January 2016

More Thinks Coming

The first movement of the Clarinet Sonata is now at the 5-minute mark. (I resumed daily work on the piece this Sunday past.)

11 January 2016

from the heart

Dear ——

I wish

to apologize

I honestly thought

those grapes were


10 January 2016

Weekend edition

At the outset, it is only fair to disclose that I wrote nothing of the Clarinet Sonata this weekend.

Yesterday morning, having been assured that the guitar lines in Things Like Bliss are playable, I prepared (as I had been prepared to prepare) alternate versions for, respectively, flute and cello. I also finished the shakuhachi-&-toy-piano piece, Liv Plays Scrabble (remembering Olivia Kieffer's gracious hospitality when I went a-clarinetting to Atlanta).

Today, I essentially took the day off as a composer. Our HTUMC Chancel Choir sang, this morning, my arrangement of "Brightest and Best," from The Southern Harmony. Since this is an arrangement--easy though it is--which they had never seen before Thursday the 7th, it was quite bravely done.