29 June 2017
28 June 2017
27 June 2017
26 June 2017
24 June 2017
List of Henning compositions in whose premières Peter H. Bloom participated
Op.59 — Radiant Maples (2001) Flute, clarinet, harp, piano. Duration: 5'. First performance: First Church, Woburn, Massachusetts (24 June 2009).
Op.64a — Fragments of « Morning Has Broken ». (2002) Arrangement for flute, clarinet, piano. Commissioned for the First Congregational Church in Woburn (William Goodwin, music director). Duration: 4'00.
Lux Nova Press — Catalogue № LNP-0287.
Op.94a — The Angel Who Bears a Flaming Sword. (2008) Alto flute unaccompanied. Adapted for Peter H. Bloom. Duration: 12'. First performance: First Church, Woburn, Massachusetts (24 June 2009).
Opus 95 — stars & guitars. (2009) Bass flute & harp. For Duo 2: Mary Jane Rupert & Peter H. Bloom. Duration: 20'. First performance: First Church, Woburn, Massachusetts (24 June 2009).
Op.97 № 1 — Heedless Watermelon (2009) Flute & clarinet. For Peter H. Bloom. Duration: 6'30. First performance: Peter H. Bloom & the composer, Boston Public Library, West End branch, Boston (28 July 2009).
Op.97 № 3 — Swivels & Bops (2010) Flute & clarinet. Duration: 3'00. First performance: Peter H. Bloom & the composer, Cathedral Church of St Paul, Boston (12 May 2010).
Op.101 — Here You Go / Hear You Go. (2010) Flute & clarinet. Duration: 6'. First performance: Peter H. Bloom & the composer, King’s Chapel, Boston (18 May 2010).
Op.103 — How to Tell (Chasing the Tail of Nothing). (2011) Alto flute, clarinet & frame drum. Duration: 10'. First performance: The k a rl h e nn i ng Ensemble, King’s Chapel, Boston (19 May 2011).
Op.113 № 2 — Après-mystère. (2014) Flute (or piccolo) & clarinet in A. Duration: 5'. First performed by Peter H. Bloom & the composer, King’s Chapel, Boston (7 Oct 2014).
Op.114 № 2 — Zen on the Wing. (2013) Flute & clarinet in A. Duration: 5'. First performed by Peter H. Bloom & the composer, King’s Chapel, Boston (8 Oct 2013).
Op.117 — Jazz for Nostalgic Squirrels. (2013-14). Flute, clarinet, guitar & double-bass. First performed by The 9th Ear, Clarendon Hill Presbyterian Church, Somerville, Mass. (1 Feb 2014).
Op.119 № 1 — The Crystalline Ship. (2014) Mezzo-soprano & baritone saxophone. For D’Anna Fortunato. Text by Leo Shulte. First performed by D’Anna Fortunato & Peter H. Bloom, Church of the Advent, Boston (14 March 2014).
Opus 120 — I see people walking around like trees. (2014) Flute, clarinet, double-bass & frame drum. Duration: 5'30. First performance by The k a rl h e nn i ng Ensemble, King’s Chapel, Boston (15 April 2014).
Opus 122a — Le tombeau de W.A.G. (2014). Arrangement for alto flute, clarinet, double-bass & frame drum. First performed by The k a rl h e nn i ng Ensemble, Clarendon Hill Presbyterian Church, Somerville, Mass. (6 June 2014).
Op.126 № 7 — Gabriel’s Message (Basque Carol). (2015) Flute, violin, two baritone voices, and small women's chorus unison. First performed by Peter H. Bloom, Rachel Wimmer, and members of the choir of Holy Trinity United Methodist Church, Danvers, Mass. (13 Dec 2015).
Op.126 № 3a — Variations on a Basque Carol. (2014) Arrangement for C flute unaccompanied. First performed by Peter H. Bloom, Holy Trinity United Methodist Church, Danvers, Mass. (13 Dec 2015).
Opus 129 — From the Pit of a Cave in the Cloud. (2015) Soprano, flute, bass flute (doubling on piccolo), tenor recorder (doubling on soprano recorder) & horn. Duration: 14'00. Text by Leo Shulte. First performed by Barbara Hill-Meyers and The k a rl h e nn i ng Ensemble, at King’s Chapel in Boston (27 Oct 2015).
Opus 138 — Oxygen Footprint. (2016). Fl, va, hp. Duration: 7'00. For Ensemble Aubade. First performed by Ensemble Aubade, Stamford, NY (20 Nov 2016)
Opus 138a — Oxygen Footprint. (2016). Arrangement for fl, va, pf. Duration: 7'00. For Ensemble Aubade. First performed by Ensemble Aubade, Jacksonville, Illinois (7 Apr 2017)
Opus 140 — Sound + Sight: Music to Paint By. (2016) 2 flutes, clarinet, horn & fixed media. Duration: 25'.
1. The Conquest of Emptiness
2a. Avant-subterfuge (Before the Tape)
2b. Sonic Dissemblage (Sex Tape)
3. Contemplating the Irrepressible (Happy Birthday, Carl Nielsen!)
Première performance: Maria Bablyak, Irina Pisarenko, & The k a rl h e nn i ng Ensemble, King’s Chapel (21 June 2016).
Opus 141a — Mistaken for the Sacred. (2017) 2 flutes, horn & fixed media. First performed by The k a rl h e nn i ng Ensemble, Clarendon Hill Presbyterian Church, Somerville, Mass. (24 Mar 2017).
22 June 2017
2014 was the summer of “rescuing” the numbers already composed for my ballet-in-progress (with the frank acknowledgment, Gentle Reader, that when the pace is that slow, there is bounteous generosity in the word progress) from the enchanted cavern of Finale files which I could no longer manage. Three years ago today, I was finishing the then-new Sibelius edition of the Overture to White Nights. The summer solstice is, in fact, the time of year most apt to the task.
At times a mostly-idle thought crosses my mind: what if the Overture to the ballet ought, in fact, to be a shorter piece? The complete ballet sans Overture will run a bit more than two hours. My first thought, back in 2003 (!) when I first schemed the project, was that, if the audience are ready for an evening at the ballet, an 11-minute Overture is not madness. But what if that is just wrong?
The Overture, as it is, will not stand abridgement; should I compose a new one? But, as it is, I like the Overture, I'm proud to own it. I shan’t discard the piece, nor pretend that I wrote it for any occasion except to inaugurate the ballet.
Perhaps I should “go Lenore,” and write an alternative Overture, and leave the choice of which to use, to the conductor (or to those to whom the conductor answers, or whom the conductor advises)?
Well, the questions circle, slowly. It is not any matter I need to settle, this side of actually finishing the ballet.
Which will be finished. This year, if I can manage it.
20 June 2017
18 June 2017
Enormously pleased with yesterday’s rehearsal of the cl/vn/pf trios. Eric Mazonson is, quite simply, the best pianist with whom it has yet been given to me to play; and he makes all of Night of the Weeping Crocodiles sound both musical and . . . almost easy. There is rapid arpeggiation in a 9/8 section (and apart from its rapidity, the arpeggiation is out of phase with the beat — the figure rises and falls, but the bass note only occasionally coincides with the metrical pulse). It’s not really an enormous deal, musically — but it is one of numerous “gee, this isn’t plain easy” elements to my work, which (so far as I can tell) are a factor in so few pianists getting back to me enthusiastically about scores I send them.
And Alexey is a marvelous violinist. Although the timetable suggests that I expected matters to fall out so, it is wonderful to experience how easy the piece has been to put together with these two. And they both like the music. Eric is not rehearsing this in the spirit of “This is for the 21st, and then we can put it to bed” — we will keep this piece in our repertory, and we will play as a trio again.
There was some unfounded optimism: We never did play again as a trio.
17 June 2017
- Wednesday evening, I finished the piano-&-string-quartet-accompanied adaptation of the Op.50 O Gracious Light.
- Thursday evening, we had the first “full rehearsal” (i.e., with piano accompaniment) of the new arrangement of I Want Jesus to Walk With Me, Op.142 № 9
- Last night, I marked the handbell parts for Pavane (Memories of Packanack Lake), Op.142 № 10
- This morning I adapted the 3rd & 4th movements of the Clarinet Sonata for flute and piano, for the use/consideration of my colleague Peter H. Bloom; the resulting diptych (Op.136a) I have dubbed Denial of Symmetry.
16 June 2017
15 June 2017
This is an “old” blog post (5 June 2017). I'm posting it here, this morning, as an expression of pleasant surprise.
As I revisit this instalment on my blog, I “discover” that, apart from the melody in mm.24-33 (which I scrawled sometime in May), I composed the fifth movement of the Clarinet Sonata in a week.
Yes, I imported/modified nine measures of piano accompaniment from the second movement, and a couple of brief passages from the first movement. But for the most part, the 201-measure, 8-minute conclusion of the Sonata was the work of seven days. (And I did not do much work on Friday, as I was playing in the percussion section in an Arlington Philharmonic concert that night.)
In fact, I hope my friends will forgive me if I indulge in something of a victory lap for three accomplishments over the past year:
30 June 2016: With the completion of the Gloria, I finished the Mass Op.106 for mixed choir SATB unaccompanied. I composed a Kyrie in 2012; I accepted as a good-natured challenge a friend’s suggestion that it might be the first number of a complete Mass, although I was determined to take my time, and only compose each further movement when the Muse bade me.
21 January 2017: Completion of the Symphony № 1, Op.143 (three movements, 25'). Composition of the Symphony began 8 October 2016.
11 June 2017: Completion of the Sonata for Clarinet & Piano, Op.136 (five movements, 35').
Thus: three substantial works, one each of sacred choral, orchestral, & chamber music, completed in the past year. Some of my friends know exactly where this is going: No later than Independence Day, I shall resume work on the ballet White Nights, nor will I let it go, except its completion bless me.
Anyway, I made a promise that I would not start a Symphony № 2, until I put this ballet to bed.
Like many of the composers I know, composing music is not gainful employment. Therefore, like many of the composers I know, composing music is not the only thing I do. I have full-time (non-musical) work – and thank goodness for that – and I am also the choir director at Holy Trinity United Methodist Church in Danvers, Mass. Obviously, for that choir director position to coexist with my full-time job, it is but a part-time engagement. In a sense, though, I am sometimes “on the clock” beyond the usual Thursday evening choir rehearsal and Sunday morning service commitments. It is my pleasure to report that part of what is expected of the music director at the church is, occasional fresh, pertinent compositions for use in the worship service; thus, for instance, on Tuesday evening I composed a brief piece for the church’s handbell choir to ring as part of the service on 25 June.
The triumph, then, which I celebrate is that it has been possible to find a balance of the Day Job, the Church Music Directorship, and my own (selfish) creative work so that I could get these three major pieces completed, and to my entire musical satisfaction.
(Of course, my working life is a little more complicated still, as I am a founding member of Triad: Boston’s Choral Collective, and I do try to play my clarinet now and again.)
So, if you skipped to the end (which in neighborly goodwill, I made you free to do), go on back, and read what you missed.
You know you want to.
14 June 2017
Also on the work slate was the easy-ish adaptation for Triad’s use, of O Gracious Light, to be accompanied by piano & string quartet. Did a bit more than half of that yesterday, so it will likely be finished this evening. (This will be the Op.50d. I think.)
13 June 2017
One take: Serious resumption of work upon White Nights depends on my locating materials, sketches, outlines, plots, organizational graphs which I know I have not yet discarded, so that I keep the Big Picture in view.
Another take: Serious resumption of work upon White Nights depends on just writing, because I know the arc of the story, I can create the music which will suit, and it is just necessary to do The Work.
Yet another take: Resumption of work upon White Nights depends on not getting hung up over The Serious.
Even though, yesterday, I thought I should “need” a respite ... I just felt like writing a tune. I wrote it down this morning, but the start of it was in my inner ear yesterday afternoon.
That is, if the music is coming to me, I'd be a fool not to get to the work.
12 June 2017
I’ve sent the Sonata (all its several five PDFs) to three pianists here in Boston, and known to me. So . . . let us see if we can arrange a reading this summer.
I need to prepare an informatively-cued clarinet part for the second movement; otherwise, I think the clarinet part layout fairly straightforward . . . so that the Lux Nova edition should not languish.
What now, you ask? In the way of taking a breather before (yes! at last!) plunging back into White Nights, I do have a few light items to see to:
1. We have one more Sunday (25 June) for the handbell choir to ring at church, so I need to see to a piece for rehearsal after the service this Sunday.
2. There is talk of working with a string quartet for the second Triad concert this coming season (that is, talk of keeping with that idea, even though we had an ad hoc quartet for two pieces this last concert). So I will adapt O Gracious Light for accompaniment by piano and SQ.
3. And the handbell choir director of an Episcopal parish in Cambridge reached out yesterday with the possibility of commissioning me to write a piece for them.
11 June 2017
The Henning Sonata for Clarinet & Piano runs about 35 minutes, and is in five movements:
i. Another Think Coming | Allegro (10')
ii. « Boulez est mort » (Wounding Silence) | Adagio (10')
iii. Unanticipated Serenity | Grazioso (3') — attacca
iv. Ambiguity & Overlap (Something or other, if not something else entirely) | Vivo — Easy March — Vivo — Easy March (4')
v. After a reading of “The Mysterious Stranger” | Larghetto — Poco più mosso — Poco più mosso ancora — Allegro — A tempo primo (8')
I composed the first movement in January of 2016 (hence the Opus 136 designation). I started the second movement on Monday, 25 January, and set it aside in February (2016) for other tasks. Picked the second movement back up in April 2017, and finished it; and I have been fairly faithful to the piece since.
As a something of a divertissement, the third and fourth movements go together, I think. They are deliberately a “retreat” from the rhetorical rigor of the first, and from the cool austerities of the second. Because I came to see the fifth as a return (competing a kind of arch) I eliminated the attacca which I had originally meant to follow the fourth movement.
And now . . . to find a pianist . . . .
10 June 2017
The opening slow section (too substantial to be labeled an introduction, I think) came to this world effortlessly, and required only minimal finishing once it had been set in fair draught. Then, in an apparent nod to Beethoven, I found myself harking back, first, to the second movement (a passage which one sympathetic listener had told me, he would be happy to hear more of . . . we shall see if this change his tune); and, second, to begin the fast section, I had the whimsical idea of importing a passage from the first movement (Another Think Coming) with the purpose of finding somewhere else to take it (in a way harmonious with the title, I should think).
Almost assuredly as a result of revisiting Plotting (y is the new x) this morning, I decided that the bulk of the fast section would be a kind of passacaglia, on a five-measure subject which emerges from the material borrowed from the first movement.
Contented with what I feel has been good work today, I rather think I may reach the end of the piece tomorrow.
09 June 2017
08 June 2017
I don't say it's at all impossible to scare up that leaf of paper.
Just a note that, in fact, that leaf of paper has been found, and the material gratefully incorporated.
07 June 2017
06 June 2017
Parenthetically, a chap here at the office is part of a sort-of-jazz-ensemble which has had an online presence (YouTube, e.g.) for some years, and the cumulative hits have by now resulted in a kind of demand for them, and they are getting gigs. So there is no reason to suppose, just because The 9th Ear have been dormant all this while, that they’re dead.
Charles has spoken of doing something in the summer. On the chance, I have composed a new piece for clarinet, guitar & double-bass, a mere bagatelle really, called Nun of the Above. I finished the piece on 15 April.
05 June 2017
Spent some of lunchtime sketching the piano part at the beginning of the fifth movement of the Clarinet Sonata. I remember drawing up the start of a melody, oh, I dunno, three-four weeks ago.
I don't say it's at all impossible to scare up that leaf of paper.
I like both the character of today's sketch, and the possibilities for Places to Go.
Tonight: to (quite likely) wrap up the orchestral version of Ear Buds. It should not really surprise me that the new ensemble environment suits the piece very well.
04 June 2017
I already have a sketch started up for the fifth movement.
1. Finish the Clarinet Sonata
2. Decide whether or not to do an orchestral version of Ear Buds
3. Get back to work on White Nights, and finish by year’s end
The new music choral ensemble Diamonds From the Dust gave the première of I Want Jesus to Walk With Me (this is version 3) last night in Worcester; very well received.