06 January 2014

For the end of this month

Après-mystère :: Much of the summer of 2013 I spent composing a setting of Walt Whitman's "The Mystic Trumpeter" for soprano and clarinet. The original intent was for performance at King's Chapel, where the weekly program requires about a half-hour of music. Partly because my Mystic Trumpeter on its own would have made for too short a program, and partly because I am all for giving the public what they want (provided what they want is more Henningmusick), I composed Après-mystère as a sort of epilogue. I originally wrote it thinking regular flute; the substitution of the piccolo flute was Peter's suggestion.

Zen on the Wing :: The idea of the Opus 114 pieces is, three instruments (flute, clarinet, mallet percussion), four pieces: one piece with the entire trio, one piece for each constituent pairing. Each of the duos which include the percussion - just what everyone was expecting, clarinet & marimba; Feel the Burn (Bicycling into the Sun), flute & vibraphone - is rather energetically rhythmic. So I decided that Zen on the Wing would be a serene, sostenuto contrast.

Swivels & Bops :: Once I had written not only Heedless Watermelon, but also All the Birds in Mondrian's Cage for Peter H. Bloom and myself to play together, I knew I should soon write a third piece to round out the Opus 97 set. Swivels & Bops is dance-music for turtle-doves. Every Christmas, I used to wonder what the two turtle-doves would like to dance to.

Jazz for Nostalgic Squirrels :: In Russian folklore, the squirrel is a symbol of joy; this is fair enough, but just because the squirrel is a small creature does not mean she is all that simple. The world needed (I felt) more music to reflect the opinion of many a squirrel, that the trees are not nearly so tall, nor the acorns so surpassing sweet, as in bygone days. The squirrels are far too discreet to express their feelings in words; the music must speak on their behalf.

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