09 May 2009

from the Archives

Unusual density of activity recently. I like it.

Last week I observed the two rehearsals of Out in the Sun, which went very well. It’s a technically demanding piece, but musically rewarding as well – I don’t take my own word for it, but at least three of the ten players very kindly made a point of thanking me for the piece, and telling me how they enjoyed playing it. The actual performance on Thursday evening was marvelous (and there was even some audience); I heard someone shout “Bravo!” from an area of the house where my invited guests were not seated. I had refined the composition painstakingly before letting it out to the conductor; and I knew that I liked the piece. I had seen and heard the piece in rehearsal, and so it was no surprise to me that the NEC players made such a great presentation of the piece. So, while of course I hoped that the audience might like the piece, and I knew that the performance was as flattering a delivery of the music as a composer might wish, I must say that the force of the audience’s positive response to the piece, as people approached me at the intermission, really touched me. Of course, I might like the piece (and this might be eccentric of me), but I never feel that I can take that as a guarantee that the audience will quite take to it. It was an even richer pleasure that everyone that I spoke to had been so favorably impressed by the music.

In memory, the power of this evening’s impression still overshadows an even recenter performance. Yesterday the St Paul’s choir sang a piece of mine for the first time since my designation as Composer-in-Residence, the Alleluia in D (the same piece which the Atlanta Young Singers of Callanwolde will be including in their Christmas-and-after programs this season). A couple of moments when a stray singer came in early . . . the counting is tricky, and in fact we did not even read this piece until last Wednesday, so (a) the choir roster has changed so, that I think only two choristers have sung this in performance before, and (b) the many people who are new to the piece, haven't “lived” with it enough to feel entirely at ease with the rhythmic quirks. No matter, those little slips did not appreciably ‘damage’ the overall impression of the piece . . . there are these little motifs which keep chasing themselves . . . so our tenor Brian (who has sung the piece many times before) said to me afterwards, “There were a couple of false entrances, but the way it’s written, no one noticed.” “Yes,” I agreed, “this is one of my rare train-wreck-resistant pieces.”
[ 13.xi.06 ]

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