off the hook


Eileen and i found ourselves exhausted yesterday. It was a combination of end of season for me and the intensity of Sarah’s visit and Eileen’s extended family’s circumstances. Eileen’s Mom is going to the doctor today. Last week, she (Eileen’s Mom) was short of breath, feeling extreme fatigue and slurring her words more than usual. By last Saturday she was feeling better and called Eileen to let her know. Nevertheless we are all glad that she is seeing her doctor today. Plus Eileen’s Aunt Micky entered hospice at around this same time. She is looking in to visiting her tomorrow with other family members.

I had a bit of a morning myself yesterday in the midst of my fatigue.

Last Saturday I picked up some music for a funeral/memorial coming up this Saturday. One glance told me it wasn’t going to be easy. The piece was Pastorale (arranged for two trombones and piano) by Eric Ewazen.

Before describing the piece, I want to point out that anxiety was/is a bit out of control in this funeral. There are two sons of the man who died and they seem to be on different pages if not hostile to each other.

The next generation (these men’s adult children?) are music teachers. It appears that the dads decided the adult kids should perform at their grandfather’s memorial service. Talking to one of the dad’s on the phone yesterday, he said he thought it would “be therapeutic” for at least one of the musicians.

I immediately began preparing this accompaniment. Although the piano part is not important in it, it is quite involved. I had difficulty understanding this piece of music until I heard the original work which was for flute, french horn and piano. Here’s a video of it.

After listening to this recording, I understood the piece much more clearly. I even started to like it a bit. I am impressed by this pianist’s ability not only to play the accompaniment but to do her own page turns. By the time I saw this video, I had asked Eileen to try turning pages for me to help me with this difficult accompaniment.

Then I received a direct email from one of the sons of the deceased asking me to call him immediately. I did so. We had a discussion. At first I told him it would be so much better if he could connect me directly to the musicians involved. He, in turn, informed me that he (and presumably his brother or some other family members) felt that it was probably asking too much to try to pull this piece together for the memorial service.

I told him it was risky but possible, that I had already put in several hours working on it and would have to dedicate a lot of time in order to pull it off Saturday.

In short, he wanted to let me off the hook. I agreed that this was the better choice under the circumstances. Whew. In the meantime there were a flurry of emails going back and forth between Rev Jen (who is not officiating at this service), Rev Jodi (who is), family members and Mary, the office administrator at church. I emailed Jen, Jodi and Mary that I had talked to one of the sons on the phone and that he had canceled this difficult piece.

I also stopped by the church to talk to someone in person. The only person around was Mary the office administrator. I tried to explain to her what had happened. She filled me in on description of how the family was acting, phoning numerous times last week (during our annual Tulip Time fund raiser) with mounting anxiety. Nice.

I don’t necessarily think this confusion is quite resolved. All I know is that I’m not practicing that piece now and that’s a relief. Hopefully they won’t change their mind.

These four freedoms were promulgated by FDR in his State of the Union speech, January 1941. Ironically, since these were used to rationalize the USA’s fight in WWII, they became quite important. The conservative Saturday Evening Post reversed its opposition to them (they were anti-New Deal and saw them as supporting it). Norman Rockwell then painted these four covers for The Saturday Evening Post.

Mystery in Sochi Doping Case Lies With Tamper-Proof Bottle – The New York Times

Some of today’s links are a bit old. I haven’t been putting them in the posts lately. I have been following this case with interest.

States Prove That Voter Registration at the D.M.V. Works – The New York Times

It’s an interesting time in the USA. Will we strive to be a democracy or not? Ideas like this will help us.

For Obama, an Unexpected Legacy of Two Full Terms at War – The New York Times

Obama the war president. Yikes.

Brazil’s Graft-Prone Congress: A Circus That Even Has a Clown – The New York Times

You have to read between the lines a bit on the NYT’s reporting on Brazil right now. This includes previous articles as well as this. It looks to me like the corrupt leaders have won this for now.

50 Years After the Cultural Revolution, a Son Awaits Answers on His Father’s Death – The New York Times

I’ve read some of the history of this time in China. Amazing what is being repressed there right now. Also amazing that Buckley is back reporting after being refused a visa for so long.

‘The Noise of Time,’ by Julian Barnes – The New York Times

I have been following the author of this book review, Jeremy Denk, for a while.

He is a concert pianist and plays the hell out of the modern rep. He seems to have allowed his blog to languish. But he is being published by the NYT and the New Yorker.

Shostakovich is an extraordinary composer. After reading this review I had to listen to the fifth symphony.

Dying Infants and No Medicine: Inside Venezuela’s Failing Hospitals – The New York Times

Some tragic and difficult stuff well reported.

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