28 September 2015

Admee Unbound

Last night, we had the initial rehearsal (for instruments only) of From the Pit of a Cave in the Cloud, Op.129, and the time was musical, productive, and stimulating. It's a big piece in a short span, a lot of notes, several sections in succession, a lot of Lebowskian ins & outs & what-have-yous. Each of the musicians is excellent, sensitive, alert, and the entire rehearsal was sustained by good humor and eagerness to start right off at getting things right. The experience and musical result were, in short, everything the composer had hoped, and better.

18 September 2015

From the Dream Dictionary

In my dream last night, I walked along the street, walked into a building and along wide corridors with any number of other people milling about, and I met an oboist.

Only in my dream an oboist was not someone who plays the oboe.  An oboist was someone so fanatically devoted to the oboe, that he is practically suspicious of any other wind instrument, as a potential rival diminishing the supreme splendor of the oboe.

He was passionate.  He was outspoken.  The truth did not matter, only the oboe.  The oboe was his Truth.  Even the fact that he was restricted from air travel did not deter him in his single-minded devotion to the double-reed instrument.

He talked on and on, and I did not say anything in response, and after a while he fancied that he perceived some discomfort on my part.

You're a clarinetist aren't you? His eyes seemed to drill into my brow.

No, no!  I mean, I play the clarinet, but I am not a "clarinetist"!

16 September 2015

Spelunking in the Sky?

From the Pit of a Cave in the Cloud is a scena, a monodrama, a verse adaptation prepared by Leo Schulte at my request, from part of one chapter of his novel in MS., From the Caves of the Cloud.

A year-ish ago, when Evelyn Griffin was doing such a marvelous job with my setting of Walt Whitman's "The Mystic Trumpeter" for soprano and clarinet (and while I had known of the Holst setting for decades, I forbore actually to listen to that classic until after I had finished my own setting), I was determined to write a new piece expressly for her. Her talent is an admirable combination of singing declaratively and emotionally for the stage, and an ear and taste for music that stretches beyond (in a word, or in a name, indeed) Puccini. (Nothing against Puccini, you understand.)

So I wanted a text for a dramatic piece designed to fix the audience with its glittering eye, so to speak, and I told Leo so; and he delivered just the text any composer might wish to set. (When I sent the half-completed score to the instrumentalists, so that they might have an idea of what they were getting themselves into musically, the plight of the poem's narrator was at that point so dire, that one of the musicians expressed concern that performing this piece would interfere with our ability to travel by air in future.)

The piece is musically challenging for both singer and the accompanying chamber quartet, but especially for the singer, who has scarcely any rest in a twelve-minute performance. But our Evelyn is game, and looking forward to putting the piece together.

I've only just gotten the completed composition to her, this past Saturday, so she is busy learning it yet. We begin rehearsing the instruments alone, so that we can be a reliable accompanist for the singer in the full rehearsal, for two rehearsals late Sept/early Oct.

The accompaniment consists of:

soprano recorder (doubling on tenor)
bass flute (doubling on picc.)
horn in F

This is the first I have written for recorder, and the most demanding chamber part I have yet written for horn, and the players have gently advised me that we may need to make some minor adjustments (which will not affect the fabric of the composition).

Though I'm the one saying it, I have been at the top of my compositional game for a good year and more, and any of my recent works, if it should have the ever-unlikely good fortune to have notice taken of it in the press, will present the composer to the world as a distinct and powerful voice. (Of course, when you're nobody - and I am nobody - no one hears your voice.)

12 September 2015

Preface to the expanded remarks about the Op.129

How large a cast is needed for a production of Hamlet?  How many actors (including extras) are necessary to do dramatic justice to Shakespeare's magnum opus?  Yet, some of the most intensely satisfying theatrical endeavors (and I am thinking of some of the classic Twilight Zone scripts, among other examples) require no more than two persons on the stage.

In just such a way, I feel no artistic limitation in the least, when writing a piece of music for two performers.  Let alone for five.  In fact, if a composer is capable of making a compelling 20-minute piece for two players, an ensemble of five is a spectacle.

10 September 2015

Here am I

The past seven days have in large part been consumed in the effort (musically rewarded) to compose through the Op.129. I had started it back in June, left it be while I attended to other pieces, and in the back of my mind there was some sort of doubt annoying me. Not at all about the text, which I knew would make for a smashing piece;  but the smashing piece was taking its sweet time coming to me.

Well, I have by now discovered it, and it is (if anything) even hotter than I had hoped.

I have choir rehearsal tonight, so production is paused; but I already see my path through to the end.

03 September 2015

Somewhat disorderly

The date for Kammerwerke (maybe) to read the 5-minute start to the Op.130 [title under reconsideration] appears to be 3 October.  You never know.

Continued progress on the Op.129.

9th Ear talk about concerts in March.

I showed some of the Tiny Wild Avocadoes to a new acquaintance, who agrees that they are fun.

Adapted Sparrows Hopping on the Wet Sidewalk for tenor saxophone for my niece, Anna.