15 June 2017

What It Has All Meant: Balance

On Facebook the other day (12 June) I wrote – and if you wish to skip the end, you have leave:

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.

Something I am celebrating even above the accomplishment of the three major pieces (is a clarinet sonata a “major piece”? You go ask Mr. Brahms) is:

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.


Cato said...

That is not a grave marker, I hope?! ;)

Karl Henning said...

A. Ask yourself: Would Art’s dying request be, “burial in Boston”?


B. Time and the salt winds have effaced the rest of the inscription, ...hur Fiedler