23 September 2017

Thoreau A-Go-Go

Revisited (at apparent random—only apparent, I suppose—a chap made a request on a Facebook group for “some of your favorite non-standard pieces for clarinet”) Thoreau in Concord Jail.  Overall, I am happy with my performance (and I think that any of the various quibbles I might make, with my take at this concert, would be ironed out with a month of sustained practice);  I am entirely pleased with the piece as a composition;  and I even enjoy (in that peculiar, Cageian way) the occasional intrusion of street noise as a kind of counterpoint.

Even as my practice of composition does not operate in a chamber hermetically sealed against the winds and weather of the world without, it feels suitable, that my performance of this just-the-lonesome-clarinet piece interacts by apparent chance with events in the community without.

22 September 2017

Studies and Tropes

From the Archive :: 22 Sep 2009

One or two borderline quackly moments in the performance of the Studies [i.e., the Studies in Impermanence] . . . but overall, I am very pleasantly surprised at how well I managed to play the piece. (Yes, that means that I shall need to try again to better it, but still . . . .)

One thing is, I didn't feel that I was 'lagging' at all through the course of the piece; nor that any pause was 'trending pregnant'. Pace felt good, and I felt that the audience was 'with' me. Bottom line, though, is that the performance ran just over 24 minutes.

Tropes on Parasha's Aria from White Nights, though, got to a strangely deliberate start. It works, but it feels a little dirge-ey.

Little-known fun fact: I used (i.e., sang) the Tropes on Parasha's Aria for an audition for the Trinity Church Choir once. (It was fun, finding the text from Stravinsky's Mavra, to plug it into my adaptation.) So, I do not think the piece intrinsically funereal.  The above was my report at the time of a performance in the West End branch of the Boston Public Library.

This composer needs to inquire a bit more actively after possible venues for The Band to play, well, all the music which we essentially already have tamed. Not genuinely tamed; never genuinely tamed. But near enough, that refreshing them will not require an extensive rehearsal schedule. So, I have sent a message; and I need to follow up with a query yet elsewhere.

Separately, I am dizzy—not literally, of course not literally—at the realization that less than a week from now I shall attend a performance of Those Legends of the Firesign Theatre, at the Library of Congress.

The Dream Limerick [henningmusick: Not a huge story, but true — 22.ix.09]

henningmusick: Not a huge story, but true:
At the last I had found five slips of paper, had written the five lines, and arranged the five slips in order on the counter:

    Out East where the first sun is settin
    Lives a rare and athletic Tibetan
    She speed-meditates
    On her saffron ice-skates
    She’s the Tibetan Mary Lou Retton.

Paradise Lost, it is not....

In fresh news (such as I have got, Gentle Reader) the passages of the Gloria which we have rehearsed these past two weeks with Triad have proved very encouraging.  I can say more than that:  each week a different singer warmly praised the piece.  When a piece is in rehearsal, of course it makes all the difference that the musicians believe in the score.

This week is the first that Thos Stumpf and I have seen one another, since I inundated his email inbox with the Clarinet Sonata, and when he has some capacity, read it we shall, meseems.

And last night, my doughty church choir revisited I Want Jesus to Walk With Me, with all its myriad, tricky read-me-or-be-shamed rests.

19 September 2017

Refreshing the slate


Sleepyheads, Wake Up! — good prospect for a reading, should really wrap it up

White Nights — still a work purely on spec, can in principle aim for completion 1Q18

New stuff:

[the HTUMC Christmas Concert] . . . should think about some pieces with harp accompaniment

Flute duo for Carol and Peter . . . working title, Gym Bags in the Dark

Concertante piece for cello and orchestra . . . working title, Sleepwalking to Olympus

17 September 2017

henningmusick: Recital [17.ix.2009]

henningmusick: Recital:
TODAY!! [i.e., eight years ago]
Noise in the Library
The Exquisite Sonic Disturbances of Karl Henning
Heedless Watermelon, Opus 97 (2009) flute & clarinet
Irreplaceable Doodles, Opus 89 (2007) clarinet solo
The Angel Who Bears a Flaming Sword, Opus 94a (2008) alto flute solo
Lost Waters, Opus 27 (1994-95) harp solo
Studies in Impermanence, Opus 86 (2005) clarinet solo
Tropes on Parasha’s Aria from White Nights, Opus 75, the ensemble
Peter H. Bloom, flutes
Mary Jane Rupert, harp
Karl Henning, clarinet
Thursday, 17 September 2009
West End Branch, Boston Public Library
151 Cambridge Street
Free & Open to the Public.
Just try to shush ’em.
Eight years ago tonight.  I am not sure we have ever made so much noise in any library since.

This morning is my church choir’s first Sunday of the season “on duty.”

The beat goes on.

15 September 2017

One Twilight Realm

“You have a choice.”
—one theme in both Minority Report and Hellboy, neither of whose screenplays (probably) was written by a Calvinist
Any number of times over the years, and in many different contexts, I have repeated, no doubt in paraphrase (even allowing for English translation) a witty and illuminative distinction made by a 19th century German critic (named, I believe, Kraus—but don’t hold me to it) between the two German-speaking capitals. In Berlin, he wrote, they describe the situation as “serious, but not hopeless”; but in Vienna, “hopeless but not serious.”

More about hopeless but not serious in a moment.

Over the past twelvemonth (and not to the exclusion of other composition) I have 1. composed my first Symphony (there may seem to be a degree of hope implicit in the use of the ordinal number first, which I neither confirm nor deny); 2. completed (i.e., composed the bulk of) a major Clarinet Sonata; and 3. resumed significant work on the full evening’s ballet, White Nights. These three pieces are, without rival, my major instrumental works. They have not yet been performed (—in fairness, the Symphony is still warm off the press, so a performance as early as now, while by no means impossible, would only have been a wild chance—) nor is there as yet any prospect of a performance.

We might say there is (at present) no hope of their being performed.  So often when the word hopelessness is used, there is an implication of permanency, of a compulsion upon the individual to resign himself to an absence of hope.

Right at the moment, it seems hopeless. So what?

At the moment (and, all right—it’s been a long moment) I write a lot of music that is not performed. And, it ought to be conceded, I am (though by no means a dotard) rather past the age one might normally think of for an up-and-coming composer. Maybe the Symphony will someday be played in my hearing. Maybe in my lifetime. Maybe not.

But the hopelessness is not a fixed element. It may be only, that there is no hope at present.

This, Gentle Reader, is all just reflection, just thoughts.  No decision is being made, no resolution taken, this day.

My state of mind remains, so far as I can tell, unchanged. I compose, not because I am paid to do so, nor really because I have any expectation of being paid to do so in the future; I compose, because I enjoy doing so. I compose the music which I should like to hear, and which I should like to know the thoughts of listeners, should it be given them also to hear. I compose because, when I have completed a given piece, I find the arc of activity gratifying, I find the musical result, the fact that there is a finished musical object, gratifying.  I dig the resulting music, as (I believe) any real gone cat would.

While I am not at all suggesting that I would be anything other than much better pleased for the music to be performed for an audience, and for the audience to register and express their enjoyment of, delight in, the music—I enjoy, indeed to a degree I exult, even in this twilight realm, where there are completed compositions which sleep awhile, sleep for centuries it may even be, before they are awakened unto an audience.

My lot, then, is hopeless, but not serious.

When a man is in despair, it means that he still believes in something.
—Dmitri Shostakovich [ note to self: try to confirm ]

14 September 2017

Auspicious beginnings

Monday evening, Triad made a good start with rehearsing the Gloria. Then, Tuesday evening, Carol Epple, Peter H. Bloom and I read through the Tiny Wild Avocadoes, the first time the wind version has sounded out, causing actual air molecules to vibrate.

The performances will be in October and November, and they will be excellent, if I do say so myself (as, I suppose, I just did).