20 September 2023

The September Fluteworks

“Look, Hamlet! There’s the rub!”—The contrarian in me asserts that Philip K. Dick ought to have titled the novel, When They Can't Doze Off, Do Androids Count Electric Sheep?
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

You have no fireside? How do you listen to the President's speeches?

— Groucho Marx in Room Service

Peter H. Bloom is playing a solo concert of all spanking-new music this Saturday at the Clarendon Hill Presbyterian Church in Somerville, Mass. The creatively curated program is titled Sound, Spirit, and Séance – Excursions in New Music, and Peter’s array of sound sources includes flute, alto flute, bass flute, piccolo, baroque flute, piano, voice, crotale, and kick drum, with but himself the solo executant. Included in the program is the Henning Op. 110 and I have provided the following program note:

Before my stroke when I was a ‘working Joe,’ I did quite a bit of my composing while commuting to and from Boston, whether by bus or train. I always took with me a three-ring binder with sheets of ready MS. paper. In August of 2012 I was finishing up a set of clarinet duos called These Unlikely Events. There were also two or three sheets in the notebook on which I’d scrawled several musical ideas, some of them for use in now-finished pieces, and some for which I had not yet found a home. At some point the idea came to me to write a piece for flute unaccompanied, for which I freely drew on motifs thus ‘available’ in the sketch book; so this quirky bagatelle is a kind of annotated commentary on a couple of other pieces. As a result, the title is Airy Distillatesairy for the flute, distillates for the derivation of materials.

I should note that Peter asked my permission to perform the Distillates on bass flute, which I felt was a truly inspired idea,

Christmas is a-coming and although the goose is not yet getting fat, yesterday I prepared an arrangement of one of the tunes for A Virgin Most Pure, for flute and piano, with an eye to the approaching Yuletide at HTUMC. My recent prep work for the choir has been in the Opus 159 folder, the current ‘Minor Sacred Music’ catch-all, but perceiving immediately that the piece has publishing potential, I reassigned it a distinct Opus № (182) Pursuant to this, I recalled a 2017 arrangement of I Saw Three Ships for clarinet and harp which I performed with harpist Rocío Rodríguez (since moved out to San Diego, and also with my friend Barbara Otto on piano. So, an adaptation for flute and piano (similarly with an eye to marketability) seemed in order. Hence the Opus 183. The A clarinet/harp original was in thje Opus 146 bucket, and now designated Op. 183a.

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