10 October 2018

State of the Ensemble

Darest thou now, O Soul,
Walk out with me toward the Unknown Region,
Where neither ground is for the feet, nor any path to follow?
– Walt Whitman

It is a most curious matter, this expansion of the Boston Harbor Heave-Ho (Tea Party Dance) from the original trio, to the present quartet.  There is no insufficiency about the original scoring.  The horn line nevertheless imparts the sense that it has always been an integral component; and I made no alterations soever to the original three lines.  In a small way, something of a compositional tour-de-force.  We four all like the piece.

From the character of the fixed media for Kurosawa's Scarecrow, Pam jested to the effect of worrying just how horrid my memories were, of Packanack Lake.  Nevertheless, a separate quip (equally sympathetic) a rose during rehearsal, at the point where the live ensemble wait out a period of about 1'45", when I closed my eyes, and Pam wondered aloud if I hadn't fallen asleep.  While there is a kind of dark, diaphanous mystery to the prerecorded mix, I find it truly, profoundly relaxing.  The rehearsals have gone better and better; and while the chance aspect of just how the live quartet and the fixed media coordinate means that it's never quite the same twice, I find it some kind of marvelous, how apt the chance interplay always turns out.  Not really sure how I managed that.  (No, I had not fallen asleep.)

Between Kurosawa's Scarecrow and Mistaken for the Sacred, the surface similarity is of course the combination of live instruments with fixed media.  Chief among many differences, probably, are 1) the distinct character and materials in the fixed media, 2) the fact that the entrances of the ensemble are fairly free in Kurosawa's Scarecrow, but the alignment of the two elements is fairly strict in M. for the S., and 3) the writing for the instruments is busier and quirkier in Mistaken for the Sacred.  Of the three pieces we rehearsed yesterday evening, then, we needed to train a bit more attention upon a few passages in M. for the S.  Both of these pieces are experiencing significant artistic gains as we work them up now, with the benefit of the previous performances.

Tomorrow, I have a rehearsal with Louise Mundinger of the Voluntary on "Beautiful Savior."  It has got to be ten years or more since last I played the clarinet at St Paul's on Tremont Street.

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