When Eileen and I prepared to walk home from church yesterday, we had an unexpected walk through falling snow. It is beautiful but I think we’re all ready for Spring here.
Yesterday’s Palm Sunday service went very well. I decided to have only the choir accompany the congregational singing on the Anglican psalm chant and that worked nicely. For the choral anthem I divided up David Hurd’s lovely melody for “O Sacred Head,” having solo sopranos and a solo tenor set up a kind of call and response between themselves and the rest of the high or low voices. Hurd’s melody surprised me the first time I looked at. It’s quite sophisticated in the way it incorporates gospel and jazz, something I don’t expect from the pen of this writer who is sort of a stalwart Anglican. Although he has done some lovely settings of Negro Spiritual melodies for organ and written at least one good hymn tune.
If you don’t know the melody, this choir does a pretty good job with it. Although I wonder where the accompaniment is coming from since the organ bench that you can see is unoccupied.
I didn’t have the energy to go back to church to practice last night even though I have quite a few organ pieces coming up that could have used the rehearsal. Instead I sat and did some reading.
This morning when I got up and resisted writing a bulletin article I promised myself I would put together for the Easter Sunday bulletin. Instead I did Greek and my usual poetry/other reading. After that, Eileen was still not up yet so I felt like it was a good time to write the article. I’m pretty happy with the result. You can read it here if you want. I thought it might be helpful to explain why I was using music based on Easter chorales we don’t sing.
I continue to feel the relief of getting close to being done with my recent compositional foray. I’m probably going to take a hiatus from working on it today despite the fact that Jordan emailed me a little bit ago with some excellent suggestions. It’s flattering that he took my work so seriously but not surprising that he had such insights into what I was trying to do. What a dude!
I’m almost inspired to finish the tango movement which I have barely started. Almost.
Anyway, not today.
About the time Eileen got up I decided to make some weird corn cakes improvising on a Lustig recipe substituting the Masa Corn mix and Oat flour I have sitting around for corn meal and semolina flour. The result was too thick so I watered it down a bit. I loved it. Eileen improved her serving with slices of cheddar cheese from Zingerman. I tried it and that did improve them.
I finished reading Alabanza: New and Selected Poems (1092-2002) by MartÍn Espada this morning. I like this man’s poetry. Here’s a link to a pdf of a poem near the end of the book that hit me this morning. The poem is called “The Poet in the Box” and is dedicated to someone named Brandon who is living in a prison and writing poetry there. Halfway through the poem, Espada sets up a nice contrast to Brndon’s dire environment with these lines.
Tonight there are poets
who versify vacations in Tuscany,
the villa on a hill, the light of morning;
poets who stare at computer screens
and imagine cockroach powder
dissolved into the coffee
of the committee that said no to tenure;
poets who drain whiskey bottles
and urinate on the shoes of their disciples;
poets who cannot sleep as they contemplate
the extinction of iambic pentameter;
poets who watch the sky, waiting for a poem
to plunge in a white streak through blackness.
from The Poet in the Box by MartÍn Espada
I also finished Burgess’s The Worm and the Ring recently. I continue to enjoy and admire Burgess’s work. I’m on page 240 (out of 393) of Andrew Biswell’s The Real Life of Anthony Burgess. Biswell also moderates the Facebook page dedicated to Burgess.
I’m sneaking this reading in between obsessive work on my set of organ dances. Here’s some recordings made by Finale if you’re curious what it’s sound like. These are kind of goofy but I find them helpful when composing. Of course, there’s nothing like dragging them to the piano or better yet in this case the organ.
There’s probably going to be one more movement. I have ideas for several more but life goes on and I have to get working on the May recital.
As I said yesterday, I emailed my friend Jordan the first three yesterday. Today when I listened to the trio I decided can’t figure out if it’s ready or not so sent him a recording and pdf of that one.
I built up my courage to reach out to a couple of people who have helped me in the past but have sort of moved out of my orbit. Bob Hobby was an invaluable critic when he helped me. I learned a lot from him. And I admire Nick Palmer’s abilities. So I sent a link to my Work in Progress page inviting them to give me feedback. I hoped by sending them a link that it would allow them to demur gracefully or even ignore me if they want to.
Jordan noticed I was bemoaning not having colleagues who were composers who could look at me work. He instantly left a comment on this blog saying he would be glad to look at some stuff. That allowed me to feel free to send him stuff and ask for feedback.
I think Eileen is breathing a huge sigh of relief that this project is nearing its end. I haven’t been lots of fun to live with as you can imagine. But she’s had lots of practice and cohabits with me voluntarily (thank god).
This is an article by Daniyal Mueenuddin. He is new to me and I’m interested in his work. I have interlibrary loaned his collection of short stories. He has a new novel coming out that I’m very interested in.