Here’s a recording of Gigue performed by the wonderful Fernwood String Quartet. After many delays due to Covid, the premier performance finally took place Jan 23rd, 2021 at the Dr Phillips Center (with proper precautions and social distancing of course). Big thank you to the members of Fernwood: Julia Gessinger – violin 1, Andreas Volmer – violin 2, Daniel Cortes – viola, and Hanrich Claassen – cello.
The epigraph to the work is a quote from the Irish poet William Allingham (1824 – 1889) – “She danced a jig, she sung a song that took my heart away.”
During the covid lockdown one of my piano pieces, Serenade, was published in the Timucua Arts’ Piano Anthology. Benoit Glazer did some recordings of some of the pieces in July of 2020 to help promote the book. Originally, I thought I only had an audio recording of mine, but I recently realized that I had this video copy. So here it is. Special thanks to Benoit for recording and providing this.
With the Covid-19 lockdown, I really miss audiences and the energy they provide! So I decided to post an old performance (Sept. 2014) from my archives that I haven’t posted before. It has that great quality of group shared experience, which is one of the wonderful things about going to concerts and movies don’t you think?
This recording is the first performance of my Billy Collins songs. Anytime art is converted from one medium to another some features of the original are lost. Some things are added by the new medium in compensation, but it’s the nature of the beast that those changes or additions are added by the artist doing the conversion or translation and are outside the original artist’s control. So to allow a derivative work the original artist has to be willing to let go of his creation and let it “have a life of its own”. Billy was very kind to give me permission to use these poems, despite his not being a big fan (to put it mildly) of his poetry being turned into song. Of course, I always try hard to stay true to the original spirit of the poetry and I’m proud of how these songs turned out. But see for yourself.
I can’t say enough nice things about the singer here: Suzanne Gifford. Not only does she have a beautiful voice, but there were a lot of behind-the-scene challenges that she handled with charm and grace. It was a long program and we were near the end. The was no place to warm up so she just had to step up and do it. The songs themselves are not as easy as she makes it seem. And the last song was “hot-off-the-press”, completed maybe a day before, so there really wasn’t enough rehearsal time. Entirely my fault and lead to both of us making minor errors in the third song. Despite all that, she sang wonderfully as you will hear.
Today marks the 145th anniversary of Charlies Ives’ birth.
What a fascinating inner musical life he must have had as a maverick and a traditionalist smushed together! Not all of his music works for me. But when it does, it is riveting.
I remember the first time I heard his choral Psalm 24. Portions of it are filled with huge dissonant chords. When I closed my eyes, it stopped being singing. Instead, it was easy to imagine I was standing before a terrifying creature, a seraphim, reciting Psalm 24 in a deep otherworldly voice, filled with partials and overtones. Listen to the excerpt and see if you can hear it that way. Especially at the words “and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord strong and mighty. The Lord mighty in battle.” Gives me goosebumps every time.
On Sept. 9th there was a program that included a few of my choral works. A dedicated and wonderful group of singers got together to perform of few of my pieces that had not been performed before, some older, some newer. We coaxed Bill Shortal out of retirement and he graciously agreed to conduct.
Thanks so much to my friends, both old and new, that worked to make this concert possible. I hope we get to do it again with a broader range of music than just my own!
Here’s one of them: Jacob’s Ladder.
Sunday, Feb. 11th, the Alterity Quintet premiered my On Reading Shakespeare at the Timucua White House.
In case you missed it, here are the two middle movements with titles and epigraphs:
II. Nocturne – “Soft stillness and the night become the touches of sweet harmony.” – Lorenzo, Act V, Scene 1 : Merchant of Venice
III. Serenade – “Let there be no noise made, my friends, unless some dull and favourable hand will whisper music to my weary spirit.” – King Henry IV, Act IV, Scene 5 : King Henry IV Part 2
Came across this old piece of mine from the 80s, when I was still doing jazz, called: Realigned.
It’s not bad. Well‚ better than I remembered anyway. Here’s an excerpt, the last minute of the piece.
Listen to: Realigned.