Fixin' to send a score to a call for saxophone quartet.
After which, I think the fl/cl/db/frame drum piece will be ready for finishment.
Greatly enjoying Malcolm MacDonald's book on Schoenberg.
Yesterday saw substantial progress on the quartet, whose provisional title had been Dysfunction & Outright Extortion. The piece is a sort of introduction and allegro, to last a total of 5 or 6 minutes; and the Andante introduction was pretty much finished as of Monday. (It would have served all right for dysfunction, although it is in fact perfectly coherent . . . .) For "outright extortion," I actually envision nimble, high-energy music...but that second section of the piece has emerged as more of a slow burn, marked Allegro non troppo. And so, in the back of my mind, I already knew that the music was assuming a character out of step with the title. (Though it is a good title, and requires music to match.)
The Clincher was: last night I "played" the 9/8 section (at first; we did later get around to The Entire Piece So Far) for the artists in my life, who like it much. Of course, I was asked if the piece has a title.
It simply would not do to give a title which we would all understand is unsuited . . . so I responded with the invitatory, "What do you suggest?" "I don't know...something mysterious."
And she's perfectly right, of course.
So I have three prospective titles which crowded in upon the study of my imagination last night . . . .
Good progress on the April quartet, and my "focus group" have responded warmly. I hope to finish (or to get close) tomorrow.
Thanks to Paul, who found an orthographic anomaly in Plotting, and as a result, we've agreed on an altered note...a fleeting musical instant, the difference discernible only to Paul & myself...and to that listener in the distant (not to say, unforeseeable) future who will listen to the piece at least five times.
Mild disappointment with some of Slava's Prokofiev symphonies...more detail to follow. I still enjoy the recordings, the music; but I find a few of the choices questionable.
Enjoying greatly the Levine/CSO recording (from the 90s) of the Prokofiev Opp. 25 & 100. Also: the box of Pierre Hantaï....though Doctor Bull's Good Night more than half sounds like an elixir...and I think the faux interview with Telemann impossibly twee. (I should have liked proper notes, really...I'm trying to think better of Telemann.)
Some more progress on the quartet.
Rehearsal went well yesterday with both bell pieces.
Good word has come in on the saxophone choir arrangement of the Intermezzo.
Jim tells me I've not given him anything unidiomatic to the mandocello.
Have sent JW the completed movements of the Mass, and the Passion (again, I think).
And on Saturday my ears drank in an interesting pipedream whose theme was the Mass. One never know, do one?
Some progress on Dysfunction & Outright Extortion. It's been a busy week, and in good ways. Still, I have gotten at least a little work done each day ... and in fact progressively more work each day. It is a fun piece to write, & I hope it proves to be a fun piece to play, too.
Yesterday, I found that I had indeed finished The Crystalline Ship to my satisfaction. And I arranged just what everyone was expecting for clarinet, mandocello & double-bass (and I hope to find that I needn't radically re-work the mandocello part).
This morning (on the train, so what else is new?) I got a start on the quartet for 15 April, Dysfunction & Outright Extortion. Great fun to be thinking frame drum again.
Approaching that gladsome state of both having had sufficient rest, and having time in the day, so that progress can be made in composition. The Henning brain's nooks & crannies start to bristle with fresh musical ideas, and with fresh input for works already in progress.
I am scheming a piece for clarinet & mandocello, and now I am inclined to rope in the bassist, as well.
I learn that Misapprehension is indeed presently in rehearsal. And if word on the saxophone choir arrangement of the Intermezzo is as yet indirect, it is positive.
Later this year, both Paul Cienniwa and Michael Joseph will severally program the Organ Sonata.
Last night, I drew up about half of the baritone saxophone accompaniment for The Crystalline Ship.
Peter Czipott and co-translator John Ridland have graciously consented to permit me to use their translation of a Sándor Márai poem for the Op.119; there are some steps of choreography to secure formal permission from the publisher(s), yet. I am planning to accompany that one with bass flute, but will hold off actual work until permission is formally granted.
Which reminds me that there is a matter I must see to with an old acquaintance in Buffalo . . . .
Good news is just flying in over the transom:
Nana Tchikhinashvili writes (and warmly) to say she likes the Agnus Dei, and plans to have Moderato Cantabile sing it.
And Paul Cienniwa advises me that he and EmmaLee Holmes Hicks will play Plotting (y is the New x) for the Prelude at FCB on Sunday, 30 March.
[ 9 Feb ]
As reported after the fact:
Good morning! I think the extra outlay of energies this weekend past - the semi-nervous anticipation and preparation for the radio interview, a little undercurrent concern for the Alleluia in D (we kept wanting to sing C# in the m.32ff passage in e minor, and this disinclination of pitch was apt to throw the rest of the choir in doubt . . . and then we had seeming trouble going from G at the cadence of that long period, to the F# which begins the final section), the modest efforts to make sure that the bell ringers' parts for Divinum mysterium were properly marked, and then: on my way to the interview, I got lost! Michael had of course given me the address, so I knew that I had that info . . . I also had a link to directions in Google Maps, so I did not think to take note of the address, as I counted on it being there in the Google Maps directions.
However that may be: Michael had suggested that I arrive at half past two; and the directions in Google Maps informed me that the drive would take 37 minutes, so I left home at ten minutes of two. The drive was smooth and the directions served me perfectly well getting to Nashua; but at the last, Google Maps turned me off onto a dead-end street, and told me my destination, a half-constructed residence in a condominium development, was on my left.
Well, I have Michael's cell number, so I rang; but he couldn't pick up (must have been busy with pre-show prep, himself). And I was now in the hills of southern New Hampshire, and my Droid was not responding with its wonted rapidity. I was somewhere in Nashua, not where I needed to be, the clock read 2:33 - and I needed to be at a mic at 3:00.
I roll back down the hill to the main-ish road, and look around. Mercifully, I spy a Police Station. I make my way thither, and stop the car in the parking lot of the Station; I try ringing again, try to coax Google to search for me on my Droid - nothing in both cases. I step inside.
A very nice lady comes up to the reception window and asks if she might help me. "I do hope so; I'm lost. I'm trying to find a radio station where I am to be the guest for an interview, but Google maps somehow sent me into a development site."
Yes, she remarked, there used to be a radio station up on that hill, but they've moved (and I think they may have rearranged their call letters in the process of the move). Anyway, this sainted lady steps back to her desk, and returns to me two minutes later with a phone number and an address - and I do recognize the address as that which Michael had given me earlier, 159 Main Street. I thank her warmly (she had printed out hard copy of directions for me). Given the actual street address, I knew Google Maps could be relied upon.
At the last, I walked into the studio at 2:57, which was (for us now-a-go-go composers) plenty of time . . . I shed my coat, drew my pad with notes out of my MFA sack, and sat down to my microphone.
As I was saying, though - oh! And the Alleluia in D, had gone well, though imperfectly. In the pre-service rehearsal we went over the "difficult" passage several times, slowly. I don't know why we were failing to hear that C-natural, nor why that sliver of doubt threw other singers into pitch disarray. But there was, apparently, no time to fix it permanently.
During the service, I gave them the D from the piano. I started to conduct them, and right off we generated a pitch cloud, in the spirit of Ligeti. Half of us were singing at half-tempo; and I quickly judged that there was no simple recovery, apart from just starting over. I stopped them. One of my sopranos cheerfully asked, "Would you like to start over?" I smiled so that they should understand it isn't the end of the world, and said, "Oh, I thought I might." One of the many things I am grateful for in this choir, is the overall good nature; we're all friends.
Started afresh, the piece went really quite well. As is so often the case, we performers are alive to each of the problems which need to be addressed; but the performance rolled on without seriously losing its step, and the overall result was that the choir projected the music well. A few parishioners complimented the choir on a beautiful anthem.
And now, yes! I must wrap up that baritone saxophone . . . .
Viz. Crystalline Ship, D'Anna confirms that the writing fits her voice fine; and so, getting to work on the bari sax accompaniment was what I did on the train this morning.
The idea came to me, to arrange Divinum mysterium for bell choir as tasteful accompaniment to my choir singing the chant. It is high time they had another piece in their folder for practice. We do still need plenty of practice with When the morning stars sang together...; plus we need all hands for that 'un, and one of my ringers has just left for a month's vacation (with my good leave). Am also thinking of taking the Agnus Dei and arranging it for the ringers . . . that is already an expansion of the original thought, which (at the time that I started typing) was just to take the dona nobis pacem point of imitation and arrange it for bells.
And, from the Ministry of Trippy Coincidences . . . the other day, I sent e-mail to Ed Broms, thanking him for keeping my Nunc dimittis in the St Paul choir's annual rotation, as it were. Ed wrote back, "You know I'm no longer at St Paul's?" I immediately replied, "My thanks are no less hearty for applying only to past kindnesses." All, right: call that Item #1.
Item #2: I am grateful that Easter is as late as it is this year, for it gives me some more time to prepare for my first Holy Week at Holy Trinity UMC. Congruent with this, the pastor (Larry, a most agreeable chap) wants to make the weekly service more musical . . . and wants, for instance, that the Lord's Prayer be sung. Happily, there is a chant version in our hymnal, which I think it will be fun to teach the choir to sing (to lead the congregation), and which I think will be a musically lovely addition to the liturgy. (And the more beautiful music there is in the service, the better my engagement will seem to both the congregation and the pastor.)
(It is also the "more chant" vibe - of course, any chant is more - which the pastor is gently broadcasting, which suggested to me doing something with Divinum mysterium.)
Item #3-ish: I also recalled an English adaptation of a traditional Russian Orthodox setting of the Beatitudes (arrangement by Richard Proulx, I now am reminded) from the 1982 Episcopal hymnal . . . so I called my friend (and former fellow chorister) Bob Greiner, who is now admin for the Cathedral, about borrowing a hymnal.
So . . . while I stopped by to borrow a hymnal of Bob, I asked who the present music director is.
So now I have a name and an email address for the Interim M.D., and I've gone ahead and sent him the scores of the Kyrie and the Agnus Dei. The fellow is from the UK, and because of a future "merger" between the Cathedral parish, and the parish of St John on Bowdoin Street, no one yet knows what will happen as of April. But I consider it a posy of potential wins.
1. If he is kept on at St Paul's and likes my music, my work could conceivably be 'restored' to use at the Cathedral.
2. If he is not kept on at St Paul's and likes my music, a man of such musical talent will find some better place, and my work will find a fresh venue there.
3. The "merger" with St John's may (I imagine) mean a restoration of the weekly lunchtime recital series, and Henningmusick will ride again!