05 March 2015

Musing on the Op.46

I have tended to shunt thoughts of The Wind, the Sky, & the Wheeling Stars off to the back of my mind. I never minded the fact that I wrote it for (shall we say) the more musically modest level of orchestra; I tried to write a good piece within that technical framework. I certainly remember feeling very positively about the score when I finished the composition and handed it off to the conductor.

I was asked to abridge the piece, and I do not (at this remove in time) remember just why. I do remember feeling that I was being asked to sacrifice some of what I thought the lovelier passages of the piece. That conversation did not really admit of any negotiation; that and an uncertainty that I understood any artistic need, perhaps contributed to a lingering negative air.

It was winter, probably February, and (much like this year) there were snow storms which interfered with the reliable periodicity of rehearsals. So, in the first place, the orchestra were necessarily pressed to learn a new and for them unusual piece, in addition to the rest of the program, of course, and pressed yet more because of the loss of rehearsal evenings.

That played a part in the fact that I was not invited to attend a rehearsal until the dress rehearsal. The dress rehearsal (for all the reasons outlined) I remembered being rather rough to endure, partly because of the condition of the performance, partly because there would be no time, so there was no point in my offering notes, even if they had been welcome. I suppose I should think of that as affirming the need to furnish the cut in the score; but in the event, it was a further negative. The performance at the concert was a great gain upon the quality of the dress rehearsal, but still some distance from what I should have wished.

This drawn-out and frequently unpleasant-ish experience, I fear, colored my awareness of my own piece; and over the intervening years, I am afraid I have been rather down on it.

And as I review the composition and prepare a fresh Sibelius version of the piece, I find that this dismissal of the piece is unfortunate and wrong-headed. Sure, it is oriented towards a community orchestra of non-professional musicians; but it is a genuinely good piece, I think.

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