30 July 2009

Continuing Demand for the Watermelon

Apart from having two lunchtime recitals to gear up for, the past several days have verged upon madness, in assisting in the preparation of a Lux Nova imprint of a major score. Sunday morning, I had stopped by to visit Bill Goodwin, who kindly lent me a handheld audio recording device (one which he found at a discount, and a model which was recommended to him by a professional recording engineer in the Boston area). Thus, there are documents of the lunchtime recitals this week.

It was not absolutely the best I have ever played, but I played reasonably well, and it has been an irrecollectably long time since last I played in public two days in a row. That probably has not happened since I was in school; and the public this week was a more public public than the school public, then.

Peter and I got to the West End Branch library there about an hour ahead of the performance yesterday, but it was a while before we could get into the space.

We assembled our instruments, and decided which fish we each would station our chair on. There was a sort of play rug, a school of fish all various colors, and each bearing some number; and around the perimeter of the oval, there were parti-colored bubbles with the letters of the alphabet. Neither of us had ever performed above the images of fish ever before. Peter had brought his stand; I was counting on there being a stand or two, and there was one stand. Barely served for the purpose of spreading out the pages of Blue Shamrock, with the aid of a single paper clip. It worked, and that is all that matters. A desultory ambulance noised by on Cambridge Street just outside our window (Mass General Hospital is just a couple of blocks away).

For a microphone stand, I selected one of the stylish green preschooler chairs; grabbed three books from the book drop, and clipped the microphone to the back cover of (I do not recall the title exactly) Interviews for Dummies. As Peter and I sat down to quickly blow through a couple of pages of Heedless Watermelon, he remarks, “That is a book-drop, isn’t it?” And I was thinking what he was thinking. “They won’t drop books in the book drop while the library is open,” I said. “You speak as if with certainty,” Peter retorted. “They won’t drop books in the book drop while the library is open, will they?” I corrected.

Between the unusually strong turnout the day before at King’s Chapel, and the fact that neither of us knew at all what to expect at this new venue, we should have played with poise even for an audience of one. First two people to show up were long-standing fans of Peter’s . . . of the eight or nine listeners who turned up, we knew most of them by name, and it was all cozy.

It was an informal event, and I simply talked through the program before launching into Blue Shamrock.

For the final piece on the program (the duet), Peter & I sat down; or, I sat down first, and while Peter was gathering his flute, he asked me about the inspiration for Heedless Watermelon. After my appropriately elusive reply, we got somehow on the subject of the book-drop, when what should happen but, someone drops a book through the book-drop. Our host at the library is apologetic (nearly mortified, even) but I assure her that the timing was perfect: the drop was made between numbers, and the composer has no complaint.

As if on cue, more items drop, but Peter and I are having a great time. All contents having settled, we set the Heedless Watermelon a-rolling; I thank the audience for their kind attention, and there the program ends. Peter steps over to the book-drop and says, “Oh, the irony! What was it that was dropped? A compact disc! The competition!”

Gentleman in the audience, as he stood up after the program, said, “I hope you’ll play Heedless Watermelon again soon!” (A command performance!)

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