ghosts & the usual musical stuff

I read a little piece of mind candy last night called The Ghost by Robert Harris. It’s not my first novel by him. I have also read Fatherland which I remember being a bit better work.

I think I heard of the movie, “Ghostwriter,” based on this book before I realized it was a novel by Harris.

After finishing the book last night, I felt that while there were obvious parallels to Tony Blair’s life, that the book itself was more about the role of the ghostwriter and writers in general than some kind of fictionalized send up of the former prime minister.


The plot is totally unbelievable but kind of fun in a mind candy way.  The prime minister and his wife in the end seem to be American CIA agents. This unlikely fact explains both the fictional and real life “poodle” effect of a UK prime minister following US interests at the expense of the interests of his own country.

But it struck me how the main character was an amalgam of characteristics of many recent public figures not only obviously Blair but Bill Clinton (charismatic womanizer) and George Bush (intense, full of restless energy). As I read I noted that Lang (the fictional prime minister) did not share Blair’s religious convictions (he converted publicly to Catholicism after he left office).  Plus the tone of the fictional character seemed totally wrong to me.

Though I try to pay attention, I don’t pretend to have a thorough knowledge of either US or UK politics.  This morning I got up and discovered online that Harris the author was more involved with UK politics and Blair than I knew.  Apparently besides authoring light highly successful fiction, he is a UK newspaper columnist and commentator who supported Blair and New Labour’s rise to power. He then becomes publicly disillusioned (like most of Britain) with Blair and the party. Whippy Skippy. This book seems like a romp. In fact Harris himself mentions in a 2007 interview that he had in mind a Hitchcock/Cary Grant type plot. In that, I think he succeeds except for some startingly “slopping plotting”as one review describes it.

I especially think the final denouement (which seemed fairly obvious to me) clumsy beyond sloppy. But still good escape reading for Jupe.

Interesting that the “Ghost” of the title of the book is thought by one reviewer to refer to the way Blair was a Ghost for Bush. Thood for fought.

And now a musical update.

It looks like I have quite a bit of performance time coming up. This afternoon I have  a wedding followed by playing piano at the reception. This can turn into a marathon of playing. Fortunately I feel like the fee I have requested ($350) makes it worth it. Assuming I do get paid. Ahem.

Yesterday my bud Jordan, saxophonist extraordinaire, came over and we chatted then played some standard Jazz tunes of his choosing.  I don’t get to do much improvising with other musicians so that was a pleasure.  As I said to Jordan, I don’t think of myself as a Jazz musician (i.e. Jazz expert player) but I do thing of myself as a composer and improviser. I even think that these oddly my strong suits as a musician. So improvising is fun. And I find traditional Jazz harmonies and improv engaging.

Tomorrow I have cobbled together a bit of an “improvised” Lessons and Carols service.  My boss is out of town.  During her absence, I discovered that the Youth Choir was not scheduled to sing tomorrow as I thought.  Also that a congregational refrain with choral verses was scheduled. Again I didn’t realize this was so.

The Absolutely One Rehearsal Anthem Book for About 10 Panicked Singers

But all is well.  I searched the books that I have purchased recently that are designed for one pre-service rehearsal with singers (see above) for a quick additional anthem to fill in for the Youth Choir piece.  I quickly found one.

The additional congregation/choir piece is a repeat from last year and utilizes a fiddle tune. I asked the violinist from my piano trio (which WAS scheduled for tomorrow’s prelude) if she would play along. This will dress it up a bit.

So life goes one.

I am scheduled to play at my Mom’s nursing home this week as well.  A freebie of course. I’m glad to do it.

I started work yesterday on an edition of a movement from one of Vivaldi’s cello sonatas. I emailed the cello part to my cellist to consider performing next Friday evening.  She said she would look at it. My Xmas music theme this year is to do some Italian music for Xmas.

We are doing 3 movements from a bastardized version of Corelli’s Christmas concerto.

The Corelli Christmas Cantata

One in which clever editors from St. James Press have added words to instrumental music. I am learning one of Bach’s organ transcriptions of a movement of a Vivaldi concerto.

Tomorrow I am playing a postlude by Andrea Gabrieli.

Andrea Gabrieli (1532/1533? – 1585)

I thought Andrea was Giovanni’s father but a quick glance at Wikipedia tells me that he was his uncle.

Giovanni Gabrieli (c. 1554/1557 – 1612)

I forgive myself because their is a quote in Giovanni’s `Wikipedia article which says that Giovanni… “may indeed have been brought up by him [Andrea], as is implied by the dedication to his 1587 book of concerti, in which he described himself as “little less than a son” to his uncle.

I am particularly proud of the Ricercar Arioso by Andrea I found this week to play.  There are some similarities to the melody in the Ricercar and the tune of the closing hymn.

The text for the closing hymn is not “Good Kind Wenceslas.” Instead it is a text by Carol Goodwin King that begins “Mary, when the angel’s voice called you highly favored.” It goes on to mention Joseph and Elizabeth.

I’m hoping that the repeated three notes (the postlude is in the same key as the hymn) will subtly relate the Italian organ piece from 1595 to the melody of this hymn.

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