shop talk

12-26-2004  69

As I look to start up my choral season at church, I find myself in a similar situation to last year. I keep resolving I will try to do choral repertoire with my choir, chosen so that it’s within their abilities.

And I keep getting big ideas.

I would like to do a choral recital in February. And I want to do an Arvo Part piece with the choir this year, both in liturgy and then in the recital.

Another big idea (which is what reminds me of last year) is I’m thinking I could arrange a Bach cantata movement (BWV 26, mov I) to be practical for my choir. Last year I was looking at a much harder movement. As the choir year began and I saw people dropping out and skipping rehearsals I realized the project was not realistic.

It is possible I’m repeating this particular mistake.

But at least I have resolved that I am working on the arrangement mostly for the fun of it. That way, even if it doesn’t turn out to be feasible for my choir, I will still post it here and show to colleagues.

BWV 26 uses a trio of oboes that is quite lovely. I am reducing the score (which is for 2 oboes and the usual string section) to a solo line (oboe? violin?) and keyboard (with of course the possibility of doubling the bass on cello  or other instrument).  So I lose the texture, but am trying to retain the linear aspect of Bach’s writing. And it’s pretty a much a given that I have to retain the bass line.

And once again (like last year) I am entertaining tossing the hymn melody cantus firmus (which are long notes) around from part to part.

I am transcribing the thing in the key it’s written. But I’m planning on doing it down a key. From A minor to G minor. This is not totally satisfactory from an artistic point of view. But I think it will make the piece more practical given the ranges of the voices and even the instruments (oboe doesn’t like to go quite as high as violin).

I keep working on my little organ piece based on Erik Routley’s tune SHARPETHORNE. I do a draft. Then work on it at the bench. Make changes. Come home and record the changes in Finale. Big fun. But actually I do enjoy doing this.

I haven’t treadmilled yet this morning. So I better get to it. I didn’t sleep very well last night. When I have my 2 martinis plus a few glasses of wine, I often wake when the alcohol wears off. Then the goal is to fall back asleep. Last night I wasn’t able to do so. The church stuff keeps ringing through my head.

It can be a challenge to be the person who believes the most in your own work when so few others do. And at the same time try to stay as well self-assessed as possible, not kid myself about the level of my skills.

I’m playing Mendelssohn Sunday for the postlude.

The prelude from the C minor prelude and fugue. I’ve sort of resolved I need to lead a bit more with my own skills. I feel like my congregation at large appreciates my work. But there are so many musicians in the community. It is hard to realize that many of them see me as a hack. I think I’m a bit thin-skinned about this, but it’s hard not to be.

So, I continue to try to lead with the most quality music I can come up with both on the organ, with the choir and the congregation. Quality is my only defense. I certainly don’t look the part. Heh.

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