18 December 2023

Safe Sax & cetera

Just a note that inserting "Si, Señor, hay llamas" in the Google search engine yields pages of links to Bible verses.
For anyone out there who does not yet feel that these times we live in, are pretty weird times, the following headline: LAMBORGHINI UNVEILS FIRST SUV
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

If ever I have deserved (which has not often been the case, and, I think, never), but if ever I did deserve to be soundly cuffed by a fellow mortal, for secretly putting weight upon some imaginary social advantage, it must have been while I was striving to prove myself ostentatiously his equal and no more. It was while I sat beside him on his cobbler's bench, or clinked my hoe against his own in the cornfield, or broke the same crust of bread, my earth-grimed hand to his, at our noontide lunch.

— Nathaniel Hawthorne, from The Blithedale Romance

Viz. the saxophone: I am not yet “playing” per se, but still at the “sounding tones” stage. Although my embouchure obviously cannot be what it ought, my friend Peter has furnished a plastic reed on which (while I suspect it may not be ideal for any professional player) I have no problem sounding a reasonable tone. When I met Peter at the (51st annual!) Aardvark Jazz Orchestra Holiday Concert, he offered to get together for a kind of lesson, which will be nice. This will be sometime in the New Year, of course. Mike (my physical therapist) helped me adjust my neckstrap, which is a great help. I’m finding that I need to be mindful of my left thumb on the “dead-post,” a button just below the octave key. Even more, I need to be mindful of my other fingers. I stand at a mirror so that I can see what’s going on. The first step is managing the thumb-to-index-finger “pinch,” getting the finger to curve around the instrument so that it reaches the appropriate key. This is going to be the task of a couple of weeks, I expect. This past Friday I went to Lowell to hear the Lowell Chamber Orchestra play (to name but the chief items on the program) Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht and Chas Ives’ Symphony № 3, « The Camp Meeting It is a mildly funny thing: I had certainly listened to the Ives before, yet there are ways in which attending the performance on Friday was a kind of inaugural hearing. I’ve listened to it twice again since (Eastman-Rochester Orchestra/Howard Hanson and NY Phil/Lenny) and it’s kind of becoming my favorite Ives score. And, of course I was not going to miss the opportunity to hear the Schoenberg Opus 4 live.

My pleasant preoccupation of getting the church choir ready for Christmas had meant that I wasn’t doing any composing on my own account. I’ve now made a start on a new piece, Pocketsful of Uncertainty. Watch This Space.

12 December 2023

Et quoi faire maintenant?

In Art, the opposite of Consistency is not necessarily inconsistency; the opposite (or, Complement) ought to be Variety.
George Harrison’s song for the sovereign of rodent grains, “Mice Wheat Lord”
I don’t think it can be time to procrastinate yet ....
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

A prune isn't really a vegetable. a cabbage is a vegetable.
— Frank Zappa, “Call Any Vegetable”

Now that the church choir’s repertory is settled through Epiphany, in theory I could set to creative work again, but I don’t have any piece I am “burning” to write. I have a libretto written by a friend suitable for a chamber opera, and in the back of my mind this has always been in the “to be written” file. The last I was in touch with my friend Charles Turner, he was working on a piano reduction of an opera. The need for a reduction, for a vocal score, a problematic, labor-intensive whose result (as Charles noted) pleases neither the composer nor the pianist seriously puts me off the prospect of opera. However, when I consider The Orpheus of Lowell, if I keep the instrumentation of the accompaniment compact, the singers can just read the score, perhaps. Separately, the first two “we didn't select your piece” notices have come in, from Voices Up! and Bent Frequency. I hadn’t had much hope for the latter, knowing one of the judges on the panel, who has been less than open to my work historically. And I have sent so many scores to various Calls, that I honestly don’t remember what I sent to Voices Up! In spite of my making note of most of my score submission activity. Exaltabo Te, Deus, perhaps, a piece I like a lot, but like so much of my work, not everybody’s money.

22 November 2023

Thanksgiving Eve Pot-Pourri

The Mirage of Figaro
Are the lemons omens?
Barberous Monk: Crépuscule for Scandal
Now, about that enigmatic song I wrote ....
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

Mr. President–if I may speak freely...The Russky talks big, but frankly, we think he’s short of know-how. You just cant expect a bunch of ignorant...peons to understand a machine like some of our boys–and thats not meant as an insult, Mr. Ambassador....

— Geo. C. Scott as Gen. Buck Turgidson in Doctor Strangelove

The blu-ray edition of The Twilight Zone, improving even on the DVD release, is generously appointed with extras. Of these, what I am making a point of enjoying this time around are the isolated scores, particularly the Bernard Herrmann scores. This week I’ve really been digging Jerry Goldsmith’s score to “The Big Tall Wish.” The harmonica is especially sweet. As to Serling’s script, I have a dimmish recollection of feeling mild disappointment in the story on my very first viewing (at least a decade ago), but that’s surely no longer my story. It’s a story which ends on a note of poignant disappointment, and my admiration of Serling for having spun so subtle a yarn. Today I happened to listen to the first couple of sides of George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass album. Long ago, so of course I have long forgotten the title and author, I read a book about the Beatles. The author remarked on a swath of “Harrissongs” which are ambiguous in that the singer might be addressing either a mortal, or the Eternal. It occurred to me that there is something of that vibe in Harrison’s lovely cover of Bob Dylan’s “If Not for You.” I almost wonder, if Dylan were to hear it in that wise, how he might feel about it. As to my own activity, I paused genuine Henningmusick for a spell as I took thought for what to have the church choir sing out through Epiphany. Almost a month ago, I wrote of adapting The Mask I Wore Before, a piece I originally wrote for submission to the Rapido! Contest a year and a half ago. Although this was yet another instance of a contest flipping my music the bird, it’s actually just the sort of endeavor/challenge I enjoy: The organization sends you the specs (five minutes long, scored for clarinet, violin, viola and cello) and we contestants had ten days (I think it was) to submit our entries. I paced myself, to allow two days for “finishing.” I think I remember genuinely owning the piece as I sent it in, or I imagine that I did.The adaptation is for a call issued by a quintet of reeds. The new scoring is: Soprano Saxophone, B-flat Clarinet, English Horn, Bass Clarinet and Bassoon. One challenge (not at all insurmountable) is that three of the instruments in the original are strings, and there were double-stops to reconsider. I finished a week ago today. At first there was an annoying, small voice I was trying to fend off, which was saying, maybe it’s rubbish? In adapting the original quartet for five reeds, I made occasional rhythmic adjustments, added a fifth voice here and there (as opposed to simple redistribution, which was most of the task) even added a measure here, a chord there ... reviewing the MIDI export once again, after letting it “cure” overnight I’m prepared to dismiss that small voice as a heckler.

08 November 2023

One Minute of Music More

Pedestrians of the Paleozoic
A fossilized beast who feasted on unleavened bread? The Matzo-don. I cannot be the first with that.
Postcards From Red Squirrel Trail

There’s no need for music to make people think. It would be enough if music could make people listen.

— Claude Debussy, 1901

Clavichordist Monica Chew has created a Fifteen-Minutes-of-Fame Call. Recently the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra lost one of the captains of its saxophone section, Arni Cheatham. The last I saw Arni was when he appeared, a little by surprise (given his poor health) at the Church of the Covenant during the annual Aardvark Christmas Concert. The piece I wrote today for Monica Chew’s call is therefore a memorial piece: A Sigh for Arni.

06 November 2023

The Latest Iteration of Here Goeth Nothing

The Orchestra of the Age of Endimment.
Thank you for not asking me not to joke.
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

Some men, Lieutenant, do not want to look like an unmade bed.

— Susanne Pleshette to Peter Falk

This weekend I sent both the orchestral Ear Buds and the brand-new Cape of Good Nope to a Call. ”[The composer of the selected score will be notified by [Christmas Day.]” I also chanced upon a Call for which the “Pierrot-plus” version of Counting Sheep (a damned good piece which no one outside the composer’s near circle has evinced any appreciation) so I’ve submitted that, substantially ahead of the New Year’s Eve deadline. No idea when notification may come, the selected composer will be commissioned to write a new piece, so it isn't as if we were looking (at last) at a performance of the Opus 58. I had also sent Counting Sheep (as noted here on the blog erewhile) to a Call Down South. So at least Quijote is tilting at more than one windmill.

01 November 2023

Can You Even Believe It?

When zombies roamed the land, and musicologists openly wondered if Schubert was coming back to finish the b minor symphony
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

I never met anybody who could sit through the entire Ring of the Nibelung and come out sane. Or even alive, for that matter.
— the immortal Chuck Jones

Gentle Reader, I launched this blog 15 years ago today, so happy Bloggiversary to me.

My schema for The Cape of Good Nope, formed not subconsciously, but with a surprisingly low wattage of conscious effort:
A. Opening (new, proprietary material)
B. Much of Intermezzo I from White Nights
C. the Chorale from The Young Lady Holding a Phone in Her Teeth
D. the Conclusion of Intermezzo I from White Nights
As I chipped away at the arguably “mechanical” task of importing the pre-existing passages, I certainly kept in mind further ad hoc use of the brand-new Nope material. Yesterday I made my way through to the end of C, and I thought the “quilting” went well. Things fit together with what struck me as surprising ease. Today I (1) brought in Section D. (2) modified some A. material as a “join” between C. and D. and (3) made some tactical additions to the scoring of C.

One random Art Fact, supposing it to be genuine (a game app supplied it) which arose yesterday: It took da Vinci twelve years to paint the Mona Lisa’s lips. I can readily credit it, though it does not mean he focused on this task for twelve years, only that from the initial brush stroke to the final satisfactory result there passed 144 months.

29 October 2023

Today's Report

I'm not arguing about the value of studying how we know what know. It's just that these days, I find I am more interested in how we forget what we forget.
A proposal to modify the New Hampshire State Motto to “Live free, but don’t be a jerk.”
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

When a case gets too tough, I’ve gotta talk to my wife.

— Lt Columbo the Wise

The possession and cultivation of talent will not guarantee success “in the marketplace.” Do I even yet hope for such success at this point? I’m not sure, but in any event, I still compose because that is what I love doing. Especially since I am at present separated from the clarinet. One thought which I have had for The Cape has been, to cannibalize another piece or two. Although, I do not propose abandoning/discarding the source pieces. I’ve thought of incorporating both one of the Intermezzi from White Nights, and a passage of The Young Lady Holding a Phone in Her Teeth. After my return from church today, I began by expanding yesterday's Nope through salvaging some material from the initial, abandoned Nope. And I’ve determined that the Intermezzo from the ballet which I had in the back of my mind for incorporation here is the first. I have some creative re-scoring/arrangement ahead of me (both in this, and in the passage from La jeune mademoiselle) but of course that additional creative work is part of how I “justify” to myself the “laziness” of the theft from my portfolio. Interestingly/fortunately, even before my “research” into the White Nights Intermezzi, I managed to bring The Cape to just the right pitch center. Call it Destiny. I seem to have slouched into another survey of The Twilight Zone, and this time (especially when the composer is Bernard Herrman) I’m making a point of enjoying the Isolated Score feature. While I am not literally copping/borrowing any material, the tone of the shows is one factor going into The Cape of Good Nope

I suppose I’m allowing myself to devote the energies to The Cape because I already have a reasonably solid strategy ready for the adaptation of The Mask I Wore Before.

Separately, last night I dreamt that my left fingers were managing the saxophone just fine.

28 October 2023

The Audacity of Nope

Done, but with errors on page.
They're freaking out on the Internet? Again? .
Postcards From Red Squirrel Trail

I don’t want any commies in my car. No Christians either!

— Harry Dean Stanton in Repo Man

Ten years ago today, I wrote: Music is part of the tangle of my life, so that it is pointless to wish that some part of my past had been at all otherwise, since my music would therefore be otherwise. (I mean, if I think at all that I am making the right music.

The orchestral call I mention here has been a bit of a poser, at least in terms of what I have ready on the shelf. As to what I was thinking at first, the prohibition against harp rules out White Nights, Second, Fuchsia is too brief. Third, the Symphony requires too many winds to qualify. I think I’ll drop the harp and non-timpani percussion from Ear Buds, I’ll let it take its chances here as well. One can submit two works, so I was thinking of going ahead and writing a new ten-minute orchestral piece. The first 20-ish seconds which I composed today of The Cape of Good Nope I have set aside as too dense and too aimless, and I started practically afresh (although using some of the material of the bad sketch) and I've got 40-ish seconds of a decent start on the piece now.

27 October 2023

En pensant à l'orchestre

Sneak some chic shiitake for Schnittke's sake.
Why are the geezer's tweezers in the freezer?
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

If the judge in the Rittenhouse case doesn't like the word ‘victim,’ perhaps the phrase ‘unarmed person shot to death’ might do the trick.

— Jn Cleese

The orchestral call I mention here has been a bit of a poser, at least in terms of what I have ready on the shelf. One can submit two works, so I’ll leave open the possibility of something new. As to what I was thinking at first, the prohibition against harp rules out White Nights, Second, Fuchsia is too brief. Third, the Symphony requires too many winds to qualify. I think I’ll drop the harp and non-timpani percussion from Ear Buds, I’ll let it take its chances here as well. Seven years ago today I posted on Facebook: Began sketches for the second movement while rolling into Boston on the Red Line. These sketches record ideas which I was turning in my inner ear while my head lay on the pillow last night, so work actually started 26 October.

26 October 2023

A Glance Backward

“. . . this one corner of ornamental untidiness . . . .”
Awesome Ostrogoths of Oz
Witch Ballerinas of the Berkshires
Zorro’s sorrow
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

Geo. Harrison
It’s not always gonna be this grey.

— Geo. Harrison

So, seven years ago today I finished the first movement of the “Henning First.” Opus 143. One benefit I draw from revisiting old blog posts is, I get glimpses of a past life. By now, I’ve physically forgotten that distanced life of getting up so early so as to get into Boston to be a working schmo, and when I might actually do some composing at 5AM before needing to walk to the town centre to get on a bus. “Workaholism?” Yes, and I suppose I feel ashamed. Not of the resulting music, but of giving myself to the Rodent Grand Prix. The fact that financially, I had little choice only partly mitigates the shame. I was apparently so very foolish an optimist, thinking that at some point, I should see some monetary reward. I don’t mean for my music, I almost don’t even dream of that anymore. I mean for working so long and so hard as a jerk for The Man. What did playing along in The Game get me? My stroke, probably. The arc of this post seems to suggest (my Opus 143, for instance, not yet having gotten anywhere) that I might lapse again into the funk of non-creative inertia which somehow overtook me after the fleeting glimmer of success with The Lowell of Orpheus, but in fact (the dour reflections of this post notwithstanding) I feel reasonably positive. I defy that dead husk of my “gainfully employed” days, defy the illusion that I gained anything material in that epoch. After my stroke, I felt pretty much like a newborn cast upon the shore. I may possibly succeed still. The only lasting failure would be to cease making music. Even more: I feel that I have been given this new life after my stroke, to the end that I should keep composing.

25 October 2023

Mostly about Carter and Dukelsky

For some of those motorists, "COEXIST" actually means "Give Me MY Space—and It's ALL My Space."
Postcards From Red Squirrel Trail

The music always leads you astray and leads you into itself.

— Elliott Carter

In the course of this extract from an interview with Steven Stucky, Elliott Carter mentions meeting Edgard Varèse in a speakeasy. I had the chance to ask for Carter’s autograph in Boston’s Symphony Hall at the première of his Horn Concerto, and I’m honestly tickled that I’ve met someone who has been in a speakeasy. I mean, I suppose it’s possible that either (or both) of my grandfathers had, but I’ll never know. I’ve been reading Taking a Chance on Love, George Harwood Phillips’ wonderfully interesting book about Vernon Duke/Vladimir Dukelsky, and in curious synchronicity one passage I read today is: Elliott Carter Insisted that “Dukelsky's popular songs have absolutely no connection with his original and imaginative serious music in either style or content. In this he is linear and dissonant and frequently violently rhythmic, fond of a dry unresonant orchestration … The ‘End of St Petersburg’ contains some of the best music by this composer since he wrote his exquisite ‘Zephyr and Flora’ for Diaghilev. Although the Soviets went as far as re-christening ‘The End of St Petersburg’ Leningrad,’ Prokofiev wrote to Dukelsky that the piece could not be performed in Russia because only the classics were allowed to be played. (This was in the spring of 1936.)

Well, so what about this Henning in October of 2023? This week I quickly chopped out an  arrangement of Ride On, King Jesus for handbells. I'll mark parts hurriedly tomorrow early afternoon. I see a call for orchestral scores suitable for a university orchestra. Still thinking about that one. And another call for an atypical reedy wind quintet for which I am thinking of adapting The Mask I Wore Before.

23 October 2023

Plotting an oblique return to the clarinet

The latest claim staked by the food artisans: “Tortellini” Westerns
I don’t think my coworker is at all that way...but the row of three dispensers of hand sanitizer does give off something of an “As Good As It Gets” vibe.
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

Rarely does an actor have the chance where he makes a movie he doesn’t understand at all, and it makes him a star.

— Lewis Smith, Perfect Tommy in “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension”

I’ve mentioned heretofore that the impairment of my left hand as a result of my stroke almost five years ago has perforce separated me from my clarinet. The principal difficulty stemming from the limited sensation in my left fingers. I’m loth even to assemble the clarinet with my left hand in this condition, lest I unfeelingly damage the keys while twisting the joints together. My intent and hope is that the neural pathways between brain and fingers be reopened through my ongoing weekly physical therapy. I talked with an old friend on Saturday, and in discussing my involuntary divorce from the clarinet, and the difficulty in my sealing tone-holes with my left fingers, my friend asked if trying to play the saxophone might be easier, since one difference in the mechanism of the two instruments is that the saxophone has padded keys which cover the tone holes, and you know, this idea had never occurred to me on my own. I subsequently reached out to another friend, who plays saxophone, and he agreed that this is an exciting idea. Furthermore, he has an extra instrument which he will make available to me. Expect further updates.

18 October 2023

and there's no time for fussing and fighting....

Your expected wait time is less than six minutes. However, there is also the unexpected.
Mars the Caster of Wet Blankets
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

Think of what you’re saying; you can get it wrong and still you think that it’s all right.

— The Beatles “We Can Work It Out”

Let me stipulate at the outset that Abbey Road is a great album, and if for some it is the Beatles’ greatest album, I agree that the case can be made. I’m just writing of my recent experience, that after the first two tracks, “Come Together” (and a) I did not read the suggestion until years later that the song is a celebration of simultaneous orgasm, and therefore b) I suppose I experience retroactive mixed feelings about the fact that a junior high chorus teacher shared the song with us) and “Something,” I could not help feeling that Paul McCartney’s rather twee “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” was a notable musical let-down. I’m not saying it’s absolutely a bad song. A lighter song as Track 3 strikes me as generally a good idea, so maybe they should have slotted “Octopus’s Garden” there. Later that day—and the decision may or may not have been conscious—I listened to Side 1 of The Beatles (L’album blanc) whose first three songs are “Back in the USSR.” “Dear Prudence” (both of them first-rate songs, of course) and “Glass Onion.” The last is (like “Hey, Bulldog”) not my favorite John Lennon song, but certainly interesting and good overall. To revert briefly to Abbey Road, I found it touching, really that Lennon saw the merits of “Something” immediately and nominated it for a single. For my experience, I don’t know how many times I’d heard easy-listening covers of “Something” before hearing the Ur-text at last. Separately, the final episode of Patrick McGoohan’s classic series The Prisoner, “Fall Out” contains what may be my favorite “external” use of a Beatles song. Change of tack I: Found on Wikipedia: “Wm Grant Still composed Song of a City for the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City. The song played continuously during the fair by the exhibit “Democracity.” According to Still’s granddaughter, he couldn’t attend the fair except on “Negro Day” without police protection.” Change of tack II: My review of Sunday’s BSO concert.

12 October 2023

Symphonic Anniversary

The egghead’s headache
Pluto, the Gaoler of Nigerian Princes
If I were Hawaiian, I’d invent Hula-we’en
Postcards From Red Squirrel Trail

Both work and living have become more and more pointless and empty. There is no lack of meaningful things that cry out to be done but our working days are used up in what lacks meaning, making useless or harmful products, or servicing the bureaucratic structures. For most Americans, work is mindless, exhausting, boring, servile and hateful: something to be endured, while life is confined to time off. Beginning with school (if not before) an individual is systematically stripped of his imagination, his creativity, his heritage, his dreams and his personal uniqueness in order to fit him to be a productive unit in a mass technological society. Instinct, feeling and spontaneity are suppressed by overwhelming forces. As the individual is drawn into the meritocracy his working life is split from his home life, and both suffer from a lack of wholeness. In the end, people virtually become their occupations and their other roles and are strangers to themselves. The American crisis then seems clearly to be related to an inability to act, but what is the cause of this paralysis? Why, in the face of every warning, have we been unable to act? Why have we not used our resources more wisely and justly? We tell ourselves that social failure gets down to individual moral failure: We must have the will to act, we must first find concern and compassion in our hearts. But this diagnosis is not good enough. It is contradicted by the experience of powerlessness that is encountered by so many people. Today a majority of the people as moral individuals certainly want peace, but they cannot turn their individual wills into action by society. It is not that we do not will action, but that we are unable to act, unable to put existing knowledge to use. The machinery of our society apparently no longer works, or we no longer know how to make it work. The corporate state in which we live is an immensely powerful machine, ordered, legalistic, rational, yet utterly out of human control and indifferent to human values. It is hard to say exactly when our society assumed this shape. The major symptoms of change started appearing after the Second World War and especially in the 1950s. The expenditure of a trillion dollars for defense, the destruction of the environment, the production of unneeded goods. These were not merely extension of the familiar blunders and corruption of America’s past, they were of a different order of magnitude. And although they were all an integral part of a legal, and seemingly rational system, they were surrounded by a growing atmosphere of unreality. The stupidities and thefts of the Grant era were not insane, they were human departures from a reasonably human standard. In the 1950s the norm itself, the system itself became deranged.

— Chas A. Reich, “The Greening of America” in The New Yorker. 26 Sep 1970

The Reich quote above came to my attention courtesy of a recording of Philip Proctor’s reading it on-air as part of the Firesign Theatre’s weekly live (or, generally live) radio broadcast in the early ’70s. The stupidities and thefts of the Grant era” is opaque to me but otherwise the whole of this has stuck with me because in the first place, I first listened to it while I was in rehab recovering from my stroke of November 2018 (the Duke of Madness Motors recordings are on a micro SD card in my phone, and I listened via ear buds) and in the second because in large part it explained the social pathology in which I partially (all too large a part) and willingly (let us say I was groomed into it) participated prior to my stroke. It was a kind of epiphany. I had been working long hours at a wage significantly lower than (for example) the people whom my work supported, in hopes that at some point I should be able to afford to buy a home. That never happened. The work I did, which to some extent I endured, while telling myself that it was work I enjoyed, is not my self, so the schizophrenia of which Reich wrote was indeed my experience, and I have reason to wonder whether it was worth it, since we still rent our living space and are therefore at the mercy of landlords (two of whom have been literally pathological) and I was “rewarded” for my 20-plus years of “sucking-it-up” work with a severe stroke which might easily have claimed my life, if I had not had the great good fortune of realizing that I was in need of serious medical help and crawled hands and knees to a phone to place a call to 9-1-1. I’m not writing to promote Communism or to wave a red shirt, just reporting facts.

Now, at last to the musical business: seven years ago today I reported the start of the Symphony № 1, Opus 143 on this blog. Mind you, in not-at-all-rare “I don’t always blog very promptly” fashion, I blogged of having posted to Facebook two days prior. And thus, this is what I posted to Facebook seven years ago today: While no more notes have landed on the page since Sunday’s session, there has been (in a musically pertinent sense) mental activity. Partly, I’ve thought of events/passages to follow (setting many of them temporarily aside, as not The Right Thing for measure # 58, where the score of the first movement presently stops); partly, I’ve been digesting the musical Stuff of what is presently composed. This last may sound odd. “He wrote it; doesn’t he himself get it?” But recall that my goal this weekend past was a musical object possessed of a certain sufficiency, to serve as a lump of workable sonic clay. It was the result of musical caprice, an impromptu. In a word, I thought it sounded fairly good, and that it was something to work with; yet the creation was a, I wont say a speedy affair, but the idea was, do first, and reflect after. (There are many situations in Life where that is not the way to proceed, but I’ve found I can compose like this to no one’s hurt.) So one of the things I’ve done is, study my own score, reduce the pitch material to a compact phrase, the clearer to make further use of what is already in the piece, so that the composition contains, among other things, ample self-reference and musical affirmations. That done ... I now go to paper. Just regular, blank paper, to sketch, arrange, fiddle with verbal and graphic scribblings with which my inner ear will associate a variety of musical elements and ideas, some of them more or less specific, some of them vague but nevertheless real. The broad idea is a kind of blueprint, although I caution you from considering it as anything as fixed as an architect’s blueprint must perforce be. The arrangement, ratios, and content of these visual blocks will quite probably alter over time as I work on the piece; since of course what ultimately matters is the success of the sound of the music. This sort of sketch is a kind of “pre-compositional” activity which I’ve used in the past, although by now, in quite the distant past. It is an ancillary process which was very helpful earlier in my composing, and which I largely internalized. It’s kind of a fun “back to basics” activity which, I think, helps me to ritualize and affirm this formal embarkation upon the composing of a symphony. So that’s the tale for today.

11 October 2023

An Irrelevant Aside

Tu m’as donné un wah-wah.
Agro-tourism: Haycation.
Who controls the chilled beverages, controls the art.
Postcards From Red Squirrel Trail

We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it.

— Eeyore

Long ago as it now seems (December of 2010), I reeled in the complete Dick van Dyke Show on DVD. At first, I just watched the two episodes with brother Jerry van Dyke playing Rob’s narcoleptic brother who, while sleepwalking, could be an energetically entertaining banjoist. Then, the box (kind of bulky for 25 discs—five seasons, five DVDs each) sat on a shelf for years. From time to time the thought of somehow offloading it crossed my mind, but I didn’t believe it would fetch much if I were to try selling it, and besides, in the back of my mind I really did want to watch. So I found a more efficient physical storage solution, and I’ve now at last been watching. In addition to the predictable pleasure of seeing guest actors whom I knew from other (generally later) shows such as Jamie Farr, Richard Dawson and Robert Vaughn, I recently watched an episode in which Leonard Weinrib (nope, never heard of him) plays a stand-up comic, and he does a topical Jack Kennedy imitation. The show was broadcast in March of 1963.

10 October 2023

This and That

I’ve just learnt of an ensemble formed by “a dozen restless artists.” I still don’t feel at all guilty for getting to bed early last night. Also, Last night was the first time I dreamt that I was driving a sports car, it was a sleek bronze Beta Romeo.
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

Americans don’t need somebody to play more Brahms or Beethoven. They need to know that there is very important music out there that they’re not listening to—because our ears and spirits need constant renewal.

— Conductor James Conlon (remarks occasioned by the Britten centenary)

I continue to send scores out in the hope … well. In the hope. I’ve found a call to which I could (and did) send The Heart and The Lungs from the Opus 148. There’s another band music call to which I should like to submit the original scoring of Ear Buds, but I have been waiting on a response to an e-mail query. I’ve found an alternate (or oblique) e-mail address to inquire about my query. We shall see, shan’t we? I even found a call for which the “Pierrot-plus” scoring of Don Quijote suits, so I’ve sent; my hopes are not high, as one member of the judges panel is known to me, and they have not responded at all sympathetically to my work, but hey! You never know. Still, it is not the only way in which the Boston musical ecosystem makes it known to me that I never belonged to the right clubs. I sent the Opus 175 to an old friend, to see about its suitability for an organization with which he is now affiliated. His detailed reply is illuming. I was desirous of the conductor’s feedback (which is yet to come.) The conductor has, I think, more than one assignment, so I wasn’t necessarily proposing the Op. 175 for this group, though that would of course be wonderful. The gist of the present email is eminently practical: a 25-minute piece by an unknown composer is “a big ask” and so substantial a piece for which the winds all sit out is a further consideration. I felt that I was being discreetly guided to send something for which these proscriptions would not obtain. At first, I thought of finding a scene from White Nights, but then, I remembered the orchestral adaptation of Ear Buds. Accordingly, I betook me to (I nearly wrote FedEx Kinko’s, since—as I worked long ago at the Kinko’s on Mt Hope Avenue in Rochester, NY—I have been slow to learn that their brand is now FedEx Office) to have the score printed out. On Saturday I went to a concert by Ensemble Aubade in Belmont, and my friend and much-esteemed colleague Peter kindly brought an envelope. He graciously offered too, to mail it off. Now, I almost don’t remember the work of the arrangement, and after I arrived home (having handed off the score) an anxious doubt crossed my mind: Did I actually write aught for the strings to play? The piece is minimalist in a way, lots of sustained tones and Klangfarbenmelodie, not at all string writing typical of the orchestra, and I was suddenly worried that I had left the string staves blank. Of course, once I was home and could open my duplicate of the score, and see that the strings do, of course, have music to play.

09 October 2023

Something Good I Wasn't Expecting

Apocalypse Soon: I guess I’ve learnt not to be astonished by hearing things like “award-winning [name of brand] garbanzos.”
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

I wonder if I packed my scotch.

— Avatar, Ralph Bakshi’s Good Wizard.

On Wednesday, a wonderful surprise greeted me. A pianist of my “virtual acquaintance” whose work I enjoy (there is an album or two of hers which are part of my listening rotation every week) messaged me to say how much she was enjoying exploring my work as available on YouTube and to ask if I might have music for a trio she knows, consisting of flute, violin and cello. So, these several days I have chipped away at adapting not only A Snootful of Hooch, one of any number of pieces I have written and then completely forgotten, but one of my rejected Rapido! Submissions, too: the Boston Harbor Heave-Ho (Tea Party Dance) and Revere’s Midnight Reel (War Dance) for fl/vn/vc. These last are also styled as Dances of Nonchalance and Exhilaration. The Heave-Ho has been brought to listeners via an adaptation for the k a rl h e nn i ng Ensemble. Separately: My review of the opening night program at Symphony Hall.

04 October 2023

Ear Buds, Budding Afresh?

Am I the only one to wonder if “All Along the Watchtower” is architecturally confused?
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

I defy you to name me one Kubrick film, that you can turn off, once you've started—it’s impossible!

— Steven Spielberg

Well, so an old friend now has an administrative position with a regional orchestra. Last time I saw him in Boston, I asked about getting the Third Symphony in front of the orchestra's M.D.’s eyes. It was my friend’s feedback that the score needed some typographical improvement. I hied me unto FedEx Kinko’s to arrange printing and binding of the score, which I then sent. His thoughtful and detailed reply was illuming. I was desirous of the conductor’s feedback (which is yet to come.) He has, I think, more than one assignment, so I wasn’t necessarily proposing the Op. 175 for this group, though that would of course be wonderful. The gist of the present email is eminently practical: a 25-minute piece by an unknown composer is “a big ask” and so substantial a piece for which the winds all sit out is a further consideration. The reply is not an explicit request for an alternate, but it set me to thinking on those lines. Earlier on the day of his reply (while his reply was a-percolating) he forwarded a call from another organization (one, in fact, with which I have a history of non-success.) I let that call lapse out of consciousness. Yesterday, I saw a different call for scores for (essentially) chamber orchestra, “works between 8 to 30 minutes.” Somehow, I suddenly remembered Ear Buds, a score I haven’t much thought about in a while, and when I was thinking about it, I tended to concentrate on its original form for members of a symphonic band. For the instrumentation of this call, the percussion (suspended cymbal, chimes, tam-tam) needed to be reduced to a single player. I performed this task, and thus had the score ready ... before (reading the fine print, or rather, noting the paler pixels) learning that there is a $35 entry fee. As a rule, aware of how practically routinely my work is snubbed in these calls, I decline from calls which require a coughing-up of valuta, but since I had just invested the effort in prepping Ear Buds, I decided to go on ahead and submit it. It then occurred to me that Ear Buds would both suit well for the call I knew of (and had forgotten about) earlier, and forwhose deadline I was still timely, and be a more immediately practical piece for “my friend’s orchestra,” so to speak. So a piece of which I had lost sight is now out taking its chances, albeit not in its original guise as a band piece.

The initial musical idea for Ear Buds (The dream of a young man in the woods, listening) came to me while I was walking (near the titular woods, in fact) and contemplating a new piece for large ensemble. One of my regular walks passes by a brake of firs, and on this autumnal day I happened to see a youth seated amid the trees listening to something on ear buds. As I proceeded on my walk I thought, “what if I were in that person’s stead?” less the ear buds and portable device. What would I be listening to? This piece is the result.

03 October 2023

Another Small Step.

Allegro risoluto (“resolved to be cheerful?”) …
Have yourself a superspreader Christmas,
make your neighbors pay,
who cares what those heathen doctors have to say?
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

I know, I know: you’re a woman who’s been getting nothing but dirty breaks.
Well, we can clean and tighten your brakes,
but you’ll have to stay in the garage all night.

— Groucho Marx, Monkey Business

In January 2020, as reported here, I composed a lullaby for the newborn child of my friends Stéphanie and Jonathan, Pour la petite Joséphine, for flute and harp. I have a guitarist friend in the area, Aaron Larget-Caplan, who maintains an open concern, The New Lullaby Project. I pretty much immediately reached out to Aaron for his opinion on whether it would adapt as easily as I hoped it might, for guitar. He thought it ought but did not have time then to dig in, though he made me welcome to send anything, as I suggested I might have a go at it. I finally did, a week-ish ago (i.e. three years plus later) and sent the result, noting that I shouldn't be surprised if further adjustment were needed. I should add that another friend, Peter Bloom, suggested substituting bass flute, so the adaptation-in-progress for Aaron is in fact bass flute and guitar.

Separately: a performance of Stravinsky’s playful Greeting Prelude in honor of the late Louis Andriessen’s 70th birthday.

01 October 2023

Thinking October 2024

I am slightly surprised at the ease with which I am reconciled to the fact that “provolone” will never be an anagram of “envelope.” … Listening to Prosciutto.
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities crept in. Forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you should begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

As noted in this post, I began thinking about repertory for the Henning Ensemble beyond the present April 2024 date at King’s Chapel. I began the process of adapting both Down Along the Canal to Minerva Road and Jazz for Nostalgic Squirrels for C flute, alto flute, bass clarinet and double-bass for an as-yet-hypothetical October 2024 date. (I shan’t broach the question this side of regearsing for 16 April.) Mostly juggling things around, and a start on the necessary chromatic spelling clean-up and registral adjustments. Time passed. More time than I meant to leave this task in limbo (although, to be sure, there is no need as yet to have the music ready to send to the group.) I resumed the work today, including addressing some passages which seemed to me too rapidly noodling for the bass clarinet in the Jazz. I also expanded both pieces slightly with an insertion or two. The Opp. 117a and 149a thus deviate somewhat from their respective originals, and why not?

30 September 2023

New Piece Performed, Newer Piece Written

Twitter freezes when I try Liking the Dalai Lama’s tweet about International Peace Day. That is all.
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

Oscar Levant, Once I was going over the speed limit and a cop stopped me and gave me a ticket and told me what mileage I was doing. I said, “But I was humming the last movement of the Beethoven Seventh Symphony,” and I sang it to him, in its furious tempo. Then I said, "You can’t possibly hum the last movement of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony and go slow.” He agreed. I didn’t get a ticket.

— Oscar Levant, Memoirs of an Amnesiac

In April, my friend David Bohn initiated a fresh Fifteen Minutes of Fame call, this time: “Fifteen Minutes of Meditation and Contemplation,” for a Japanese instrument, the taishogoto (or Nagoya harp.) I wrote The Welcome Silence Which Means He Will Soon Be Gone. Today was the streamed event. During the after-performance chat, one of the composers asked about future calls. Robert Voisey mentioned a call for scores for saxophone quartet whose deadline is today. As a result, I spent the afternoon drawing up Thinking of Rahsaan for submission. We shall see. In the past, where there has not been a personal connection, I have not had any success with the Fifteen Minutes of Fame calls. But you never know.

27 September 2023

Lighter Heavy Metal? Nylon Maiden

No one will make you smile in quite the way a younger brother does when he writes, “I have a knack for making the women in my life angry with me, but I’ve reached new heights.”
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

Flatulence was “part of our discovering the true West.”

— Mel Brooks, on a famous scene from Blazing Saddles

Whether wuthering or windy, in the wake of the remnants of the recent hurricane, I’ve been randomly revisiting the DVDs from the Genesis boxes: It’s not that Wind and Wuthering is my least favorite Genesis album, exactly. It’s not an album I generally think, “Gee, I want to listen to that one.” Let’s say that it's an album with nine tracks, three of which are among my least favorite Genesis tracks. If that means that I owe Tony Banks an apology, I shall certainly consider it. This sub-conscious consideration seems really to work to the album’s disadvantage. The pity of that is that the tracks which I do like on the album, I really like. And what is more, I’ve just discovered that I like “Blood on the Rooftops” and “Wot, Gorilla?” much better than I remembered them.

25 September 2023

Flutish afterthoughts

For the record (not that this will surprise any who know me) I reject the Can You Top This? model of Music History.
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

It is well that war is so terrible; we should grow too fond of it.

— Robert E. Lee

In January of 2020, I wrote a wee flute/harp lullaby for my friends’ newborn: Pour la petite Joséphine. I reached out to a guitarist friend as to the feasibility of adapting it for the guitar. Also, when I showed the piece to Peter Bloom, he suggested substituting bass flute. Three years later, here I have finally made an attempt at the guitar adaptation, and I await the guitarist’s feedback.

24 September 2023

Airier Than Ever

Not sure just which is odder: that Amazon thinks that “The Rock ‘n’ Roll Wedding Collection” is classical music; or that there is a group of the name Vitamin String Quartet.
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

Don’t you fret, don’t you fear:
I will give you good cheer .

— Jethro Tull, “Life’s a Long Song”

Last night it was my very rich pleasure to hear Peter Bloom play the Airy Distillates, Op. 110, this time on bass flute at the Clarendon Hill Presbyterian Church in Somerville. This must be at least the third time Peter has performed the piece, having previously played it variously on C flute and alto flute, so it is additionally a rich gratification that he likes the piece so well. I really enjoy the additional resonance of the bass flute, so this may indeed be my favorite performance of the lot.

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.

19 September 2023

An Accidental Contrast

Sometimes I think it’s a sin, when I feel I’m Norwegian and I’m really a Finn.
Sundown, you’d better take care if I find you’ve been sweepin’ up the barbers’ hair.
Sometimes I think it’s a shame when I’m heading for Portugal but put down in Spain.
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

A painting is not a picture of an experience, it is an experience.

— Mark Rothko

I had forgotten that Alan Arkin was in the cast, so last night I started to watch Edward Scissorhands again. I could not help an aggravated sensation that Danny Elfman’s music is facile and saccharine. The saccharine character is perforce in support of the narrative, I get and grant that. I stopped roughly halfway through; I’ll probably finish up this evening. Arkin plays Dad straight, which (a) is why I later forgot that he was in the cast as he (suitably) calls no attention to himself, and also thus (b) is a bit contrarian to the cartoonishness. On one hand, Wiest is commonsense helpful to Edward, but sometimes annoyingly oblivious (why doesn’t anyone just help Edward eat his peas?!) So I’m remembering all over that this flick is an uneasy balance between witty and nuisance. Maybe my annoyance at Elfman was a spate of grumpiness, or maybe it was just the inevitable clarity of perception after my spending some of the day with Webern. Dianne Wiest entering the castle with “Avon calling!” is a nice moment, and of course its great to see Vincent Price in so apt a cameo.

Ive always liked Webern’s music (if my recollection has not gone wildly astray, the first piece I heard was the Symphony, Op. 21.) Yet, over the years I have rarely listened to his music. At one point I must have fetched in Boulez’s recording on Sony of his complete œuvre, and probably made the freshman mistake of half-listening to the lot, straight through. This week, at last, the scales have fallen from my eyes. One of the errors I committed was a degree of subconscious wishing that the scale were larger than it is. Now I’m listening Opus number by Opus number, attentively, and (it ain’t Rocket Science!) what a difference. So what is illuming and mildly bemusing is, how substantial (in comparison) are, e.g. das Augenlicht, Op. 26, and the first movement, Mäßig, of the string quartet, Op. 28.

12 September 2023

Probably, They're Just Not That Into My Work

I also dreamt that intoxicating someone so that his testimony in court would be compromised, was a practice known as “loading the witness.”
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

I would like to point out that stores are running out of ivermectin so that cows and horses and sheep are going to suffer because the so-called higher species can be stupid.

— Chas. Pierce

Art is both an object created with skill but also a medium of connection. As a composer, when I finish a composition, I am pleased, yet there is a sense in which it is not actually music, until an audience has heard it. The finished score is as yet but the promise of music. When a performer creates the piece, and an audience hears it, that promise is fulfilled. There is thus a predicate connection before the music can reach the audience: the composer’s connection to prospective executants. As a clarinetist with various musician friends over the years, I have enjoyed the privilege of hearing quite a bit of my chamber and choral music performed. As a local composer with no name, the challenge has been to expand my audience so that it is a circle larger than those whom I happen to know personally. Imagine if the music of John Williams or John Adams were listened to only by people they know personally. That requires a stretch of the imagination because they are both celebrity composers. Whatever my virtues may be, I am no celebrity. If you are reading this blog post, I am grateful to you for your time and kind attention. As noted earlier on this blog, I am making an effort to send my music out to divers calls, and it remains to be seen if anything will come of them at all. I’ve also reached out via “cold calls” (e-mail messages, really) and two colleagues have responded, which is of course better than no one has responded. Here again, it remains to be seen &c. This summer two dedicatees of organ solo pieces have written to say they plan to perform their respective pieces, which is gratifying. Three people of mild acquaintance initially expressed an interest in seeing/hearing my work, but I hear figurative crickets. The negative response from “cold media” is disappointing enough. It stings a little more when you thought there was a connection. Of course, the flagship of such disappointment is the Opus 148 Band Symphony.

10 September 2023

Thinking Ahead

Walt Disney being cryogenically, erm, frozen seems to have been an urban legend all along. He was cremated, and his ashes were interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale. I’m both glad and sorry to learn this.
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

...you’ve got a collapse of confidence in the currency—people are gonna panic—there’s gonna be gold riots, atonal music, political chaos, mass suicide!...

— Peter Falk as Vince Ricardo in The In-Laws

On the supposition, id est, in the hope that the new roster of the k a rl h e nn i ng Ensemble has “legs,” I have been thinking about rep for a projected October 2024 King’s Chapel concert, and I am adapting both Down Along the Canal to Minerva Road and Jazz for Nostalgic Squirrels for C flute, alto flute, bass clarinet and double-bass: Opp. 149a & 117a. What else? Well, if by then Orlando Cela and Wei Zhao have given its première performance, Music for the Un-Hip Hop. There’s room for a fourth piece in the program, but let me not get way ahead of myself, and I’ll wait to see how Dave Zox (especially) feels about the demands of the April 2024 program prep. I have a chance to show the Third Symphony to the conductor of a regional orchestra. Of course, I’ve no way of knowing that anything will actually come of it, but the opportunity of having a conductor’s eyes pass over the score is too good to ignore. The major effort necessary was to have the score typographically cleaned up. I feel I’ve managed to do this (ideally, I should wish that a friend give me feedback first, but I don’t believe I should dawdle any more. This morning I saw to the two lesser requisites, a bio and a list of works (of course, the bio was pretty much ready off the shelf, and no, I’m not sure why I don’t have a “legacy” works list from some prior endeavor.)

Brief List of Works (10 Sep 23)

Opus 179 For You, Fuchsia, chamber orchestra (2023), 7:00.

Opus 173 When, mixed choir SATB and alto flute (2021), written for Triad: Boston’s Choral Collective  5:00. On YouTube.

Opus 172 The Orpheus of Lowell, soprano and four instrumentalists (2021), commissioned by the Lowell Chamber Orchestra for the Jack Kerouac Centenary. 16:00. On YouTube.

Opus 171 I Dreamt of Reconciliation and Harmony, flute and alto saxophone (2014), 8:00. On YouTube.

Opus 169 № 8 Sorrow and Love flow mingled down, organ solo (2023), 4:00. On YouTube.

Opus 156 It Might Happen Today, men’s choir TTB (2018), written for Triad: Boston’s Choral Collective  6:00. On YouTube.

Opus 148 Karl’s Big (But Happily Incomplete) Map to the Body, Symphony № 2 for Band (completed 2018), 24:00.

Opus 143 Symphony № 1 large orchestra (completed 2017), 25:00.

Opus 130 The Young Lady Holding a Phone in Her Teeth, double wind quintet (2016), commissioned by Kammerwerke 16:00. On YouTube.

Opus 116 Plotting (y is the new x), violin and harpsichord (2013), commissioned by Dr Paul Cienniwa, 12:00. On YouTube.

Opus 102 Sonata for Viola and Piano (2010), commissioned by Dana Huyge for his Graduate Recital at the Eastman School, 30:00. On Soundcloud.

Opus 109 Thoreau in Concord Jail, clarinet unaccompanied (2014), 30:00. On YouTube.

Opus 88 Out in the Sun, for ten winds (2006) written for the New England Conservatory Wind Ensemble, 15:00

Opus 75 White Nights, ballet after Dostoyevsky large orchestra (completed 2018), 2h:15:00.

30 August 2023

More Arrows Out of the Quiver

I don’t say I wouldn’t tell you, but I cannot deny that I am but a minor dude
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

For those of you who have never met me, you might call me ‘the under-nourished Alfred Hitchcock’...

— Rod Serling on Night Gallery

Somehow, the numerous disappointments of the past notwithstanding, I have felt motivated to put my musical neck on the chopping block again and am sending forth Henning scores both to prospective conductors (the band version of Ear Buds and In the Artist’s Studio (there’s a wide world in there) and a few calls for scores: the string version of Misapprehension (to two separate calls) and a Scene from White Nights; The Nerves and (again) In the Artist’s Studio (there’s a wide world in there.) There is another call to which I plan to send The Saltmarsh Stomp, but I’m waiting for a reply to a query. Of course, it may be that (yet again) nothing may come of it, but I’ve got the music in my portfolio, I should get it out there and in front of colleagues’ eyes.

29 August 2023

The Henning Ensemble Rises

One man’s tireless search for the halvah-with-pistachio his wife loves....
Porridger’s Almanack (Breakfast of Ganglions)

Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

— Martin Luther King Jr.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have two new recruits for the k a rl h e nn i ng Ensemble: multi-instrumentalist Dan Zupan, a colleague of Peter Bloom’s from the storied Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, and bassist Dave Zox, a cornerstone of the ModernisticsOur date in Boston’s historic King’s Chapel is Tuesday, 16 April 2024. And our program shall be:

Fuchsia Minor, Op. 179a 2 flutes, alto saxophone, contrabass

I Dreamt of Reconciliation and Harmony, Op. 171 flute/alto saxophone

Waiting on the Italian Paperwork (Throwing Vermicelli at the Wall), Op. 177 flute/alto saxophone

Nun of the Above, Op. 144e 2 flutes, alto saxophone, contrabass

Should we continue with this lineup—not a given at this stage at all, but considering the caliber of the latest additions and Dan’s enthusiasm for the two duets, not crazee talk, neither—I am already starting to think of repertory for an October 2024 program.