life is good…. chatty stevie blogs again

The light is just breaking in Wester Michigan USA. I hear a train in the distance. I’ve been up for a while. I have treaded my mill and rinsed the bod. I need to spend some serious hours with the Bach organ trio I have scheduled for Sunday’s prelude (Andante from Sonata IV in e BWV 528 by J. S. Bach). I have never performed this one in public, so I have been working hard at it each day this week. I decided next week’s prelude will be a matching Pavanna and Galiarda by William Byrd from The Fitzwillian Virginal Book. On the harpsichord. I have the harpsichord up, tuned and running for Sunday’s Bach cantata movement performance.  This group of musicians sound pretty good. If the violinist had not missed the first of two rehearsals, I think they might have sounded a bit better, but I’m very happy with the prospects for Sunday’s performance.

Yesterday my boss and I scheduled an organ recital in Advent and a choral recital in February. She has intitated sending out a letter to all prospective choristers and instrumentalists next week. God love her. I have been toiling away on a statement about the music program at the church. I found a cool T.S. Eliot quote to preface it with:

What life have you if you have not life together?
There is no life that is not in community,
And no community not lived in praise of God.
T.S. Eliot, Choruses from The Rock
This reminds me of Dylan Thomas’s little note in preface to his collected poems:
I read somewhere of a shepherd who, when asked why he made, from within fairy rings, ritual observances to the moon to protect his flocks, replied, ‘I’d be a damn’ fool if I didn’t!’ These poems, with all their crudities, doubts, and confusions, are written for the love of Man and in praise of God, and I’d be a damn’ fool if they weren’t.
This morning I am feeling a bit more doomed than usual. I think of Jonah refusing to go to Ninevah and being swallowed by a big fish.
After he finally agrees to do what God wants him to, the dang people at Ninevah basically ignore his warnings sent from God. So Jonah never wanted to go in the first place and after doing what he was supposed to was pretty ineffective. This sums up a lot of my ideas about church music. I keep getting drawn in to doing the work. The people in my parish are appreciative for the most part, but I do wonder about the enourmous efforts I put into my work and if they are more evidence of a quixotic life sytle. But enough self pity. “Toujour gai, archy, toujour gai. There’s some life in the ol gal yet.”
In my dream last night, my mother kept insisting on setting out food for my dead father, “just in case he comes by.”
I kept trying to convince her that he was dead, but she looked at me with incredulity.
She was much younger, come to think of it. Looking more like her young married pictures.
I have completed the first step of the composition for my little Roman Catholic composer group meeting a week from Friday.
I have set the entire text to a melody which for me is the hard part: finding just the right melodic gesture and rhythms to set words. I also have sketched in the harmony. I am thinking I will make a four part choral setting using this basic material. The words are kind of clunky:

Entrance Antiphon for 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 4, 2009:

O Lord, you have given everything its place in the world, and no one can make it otherwise.  For it is your creation, the heavens and the earth and the stars:  you are the Lord of all.

Esth. 13: 9, 10-11

Wow. What do you do with that? But that is the fun part actually, the challenge. Trying to redeem a pretty useless text.

My  young bass player has consented to accompany me on my August 21st gig. I am having trouble getting motivated for this. I am warming up for a band who is releasing a CD. I have contracted to rent a piano for the performance (125.00) and promised the bass player 50.00. If I get paid for the evening it will probably me no more than 60 and quite possible will be zero.

I have re-written the song “Empty Rooms.” But mostly my songs mock me right now when I sit down and rehearse them. This is not an unheard of thing. I still basically love them, but right now they are unruly and sound trite and forced. Hell maybe they are. Mendelssohn beckons.

So I spend time with him. I printed up a piano transcription of the first movement of his fourth symphony. I did this realizing that I had never done any serious analysis of Mendelssohn even though I do like some of his work. I also continue to rehearse/play through his Songs Without Words. And I am resurrecting his Prelude and Fugue in C minor on the organ for some reason.

Since the bass player and I recently had a gig together maybe I will perform “Blue Rondo A La Turk” at the Aug 21st gig. I still think it would be fun to treat it as a theme for improv in the middle instead of switching to the Brubeck/Desmond idea of a Jazz Blues chorus. We’ll see.

I am floundering right now.

I tried to start A.M.Homes novel, “Music for Torching,” recently and found it so depressing and bleak I had to quit reading it.

Returned to Neal Stephenson’s “The Diamond Age or A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer”

and a re-read of Anthony Burgess’s autobiography (vol 2): “You’ve Had Your Time.”  Science fiction and Burgess.

Definitely comfort reading for an old man.

Speaking of being old, my uncle died in his sleep at my present age (57). I have been calling this my “Richard Year.” Richard was his name. My doctor looked at my echo cardiagram and had her nurse tell me on the phone that there were “changes but this was probably due to my high blood pressure” and that I should continue on my meds. Monday I have a colonoscopy scheduled. Oy. I feel that my new doctor is probably going to find something dire wrong with me. All the more reason to carpe the diem I guess. Hence Sunday I will play a new Bach piece and maybe even do some composing today.

Last night Eileen and I walked down to our local fake pub and had a lovely meal together.

Sitting outside ignoring the street performers and the crowd at the sidewalk sales. I do think my life is good.

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