Friday, April 6, 2012

OK, back to music...

Sorry, been a while again -- juggling many things this past week-plus, including a wee bit of depression that was inspired by the same events as my last posting.  (Call off the suicide watch, I'm ok!  Just needed to give myself some alone-time to process through the muck.  And those damned lucid dreams are back...)

One of these projects is preparing for two upcoming performances of Missa Gaia, in Orillia (April 21) and Midland (April 22) with the St. Paul's United Church choirs.  It's going to be a big multi-media performance of Paul Winter's jazzy Earth Mass -- for choir, instrumental ensemble (percussion, piano, organ, guitar, bass, saxophone, cello), and a collection of wild animals.

OK, don't panic, there will be no wild animals at the show -- their performances were taped in advance.  But you will hear the songs of wolves, whales, seals and birds interspersed with the live music!

There is an extensive cello solo mid-mass, called "Stained Glass Morning".  The conductor, Blair Bailey dropped the score off to me last Thursday.  It's a meditation, very improvisatory -- I imagine the original cellist improvised the whole thing and then notated it after the fact.  I took a peek through the music and decided it wouldn't be terribly difficult to put together.

That is, until I made the quip about whether I got to be in a cello-wombat duet.

No wombat (damn!), but it turns out I DO have to play this along with a bunch of birds.  (Probably more musical than wombats...)  First is a 40-second recording of a musical wren.  Then a 19-second recording of a woodthrush.  Then a 1-minute-and-10-seconds recording of a dawn chorus of birds.

Nowhere in the score does it indicate how I'm supposed to interact with the recording -- i.e., where I should be in the piece by the time the birds do their best to drown me out.  Listening to the soundtrack isn't helping me, as the piece the cellist plays is very different from what he wrote down in the score.  So... I'm gonna do it my way!  :-)

The opening in the score has me playing around on a bunch of high harmonics.  I figure that'll be me and the wren.  Not a clue about the woodthrush, though...  it's a pretty quick tape.  Maybe that'll be my cue to start the improv.  The harmonics come back -- with a vengeance -- at about the half-way point, so I figure that's when the morning birds can start to go crazy.  Maybe they can drown out the really weird harmonics I have trouble hitting cleanly.  :-)  It's kind of an unusual experience, trying to figure out how to do a duet with a bunch of birds...

So, if you hear some strange whistling and squeaks and squawks coming from the music room in the coming days, it's just me, Lady Jo (the cello) and my new birdie friends.


P.S. -- to those of you who are going crazy waiting to hear the details about my new big-and-scary project (yes, you, Lisa!) -- I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to drag it on like this.  And trust me, I'm going crazier than you are (yeah yeah, I know it's not difficult...).  Things that were supposed to be in place before I could safely make the announcement are still dragging their sorry arses.  Working on it!  Hopefully by the end of the month, at the VERY latest.  With any luck, before the YRAP Gala next weekend!

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