This post is all after the fact (and so probably fails to emulate a blogly timepoint) . . . but Jaya labored mightily to organize a benefit concert for Haiti earthquake relief. The centerpiece for the concert-to-be was a Bach Cantata, so Jaya fought off a cold while casting about a net for singers and “old music” instrumentalists, and thinking repertory. To my profound pleasure, Jaya leafed through the Henning catalogue and found a Psalm setting I had been commissioned to compose for choir & organ, and which was performed once by the St Paul’s Cathedral choir here in Boston (20 March 2005).
Manifold was my pleasure at the prospect of a fresh performance of my De profundis. For one thing, there is the truth in Zappa's trenchant remark on new music — that even though the program says “World Première,” that usually means “Last Performance.” It can be (and in most cases, just plain is) difficult to bring a new score to a first performance; but (to evoke that magical phrase) a new piece doesn’t enter the repertory merely as a result of a première . . . and it is in many ways yet more a triumph when a piece gets a second performance.
For another, here was the prospect of a performance, which was not a direct result of my own efforts, which is not a performance in which the composer is himself a participant.
Please do not mistake me — I like playing, wish I were playing more (or, what is subtly different, wish I had more time for playing), and I enjoy singing, and I enjoy conducting. Performance was the mode in which I first became a musician, and I hope never to abandon it.
For a composer to become a success, though, his music needs to be performed and taken up by broader and broader circles. The tightest circle imaginable is, performances directly involving the composer.
To wax geometric for a moment, I took pleasure in the grander circumference of the circle in this instance.
Hearty thanks and a hearty kudos to all the musicians, who volunteered their time, talent & energies in the cause of the concert generally, and to my piece in particular.
There is a proper recording which was made of the concert, a copy of which will wend its way to-me-ward at some point. But I did have with me my shoestring “field recorder,” and the yen for some instant gratification in this case was too powerful not to yield to, and I did throw the switch: