Sunday, December 16, 2018

Announcing a New Piano Concerto

I'll try to make this fairly quick, but hopefully exciting. While I haven't posted much this year, I've actually not been completely dormant. For starters, I'm playing with an orchestra again, which has taken some of my free time. This might not sound like much, but it sets up the next part: That orchestra is playing my piano concerto, with the help of an old college friend. I give you the Town and Country Symphony Orchestra and their annual chamber concert at Parkway United Church of Christ. On Sunday February 10th David Peek will conduct the TCSO and Andreas Boelcke in a performance of a keyboard concerto by Bach, Gabriel's Oboe from The Mission, and my first (and so far only) piano concerto.


Again, this will be Sunday, February 10th 2019 at 2:30 pm.
Parkway United Church of Christ
2841 N. Ballas Rd.
St. Louis, MO 63131

I'm running a small fundraising drive on Kickstarter to offset my own expenses related to the project.(Most prominently a plane ticket to get the pianist from Berlin to St. Louis and back.) Please feel free to take a peek at my Kickstarter. You can buy a CD there, a score, or a few other nifty things. And anything we raise beyond expenses will go to support the TCSO in their mission to bring great free music to the community in western and northern St. Louis county.

Either way, please come to the show. I hope that you will enjoy it. There will be a little bit of something for everyone. And . . . it's free. (Best price ever.)

Sincerely,
The Composer.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

I stand at the gate waiting

I stand at the gate waiting,
Watching as you saunter away from me.
I can’t help wondering how soon you’ll return
Or if you’ll think much of me while you’re gone.
Loneliness is a cloak: tight, dark, and cold
Best burned away by reunion’s bright fire.

Embers drowse, memories of fire,
Not sleeping, quite, but fresh fuel awaiting.
Absent your heat, now quiescent, the cold
Cuts into my center, slows me, tires me.
My equilibrium disrupted, gone
The peak, in trough I await your return.

How long until the return?
Two weeks? A dozen? Time enough for fire
To touch the roses? Petals drop, are gone
To winter’s heart a new spring thaw waiting.
Speranza del mio cor[1] do not leave me.
Dolce desio in absence is cold.

As darkness to light so cold
Stands by heat, empty until your return.
You are the original cause, for me.
For all my actions you spark the first fire.
T’en vai haime, alas, alone, waiting
Sola mi lasci, addio. You’ve gone.

“Please, oh please” I beg. “You’ve gone!”
Now I know why Demeter felt the cold,
Brought winter when Persephone, waiting,
Ate those seeds and failed three months to return.
In anguish she cried and drowned the sun’s fire
For a season. Just so have you left me.

But the myth brings hope to me.
Anesidora, when all else was gone,
Left at the bottom of her jar a fire.
When my passes through all the cold
Of separation I see your return.
The sweetest fruit is born of that waiting.

Now let me embrace the cold
While you are gone, that when you here return
That fire that animates me is waiting.

20 January 2018
To Mai Hong



[1] From “Da le belle contrade d’oriente,” a madrigal by Cipriano de Rore (1516-1565), on an anonymous text.
Speranza del mio cor, dolce desio, / Hope of my heart, sweet desire,
T’en vai, haime, sola mi lasci, addio. / Alas, you leave me alone, goodbye.

We dance and we leap, erratic and bright

We dance and we leap, erratic and bright,
Frolicking joyous against winter’s drear.
We are the sparks that challenge the night.

By morning you waken us, strike in us right.
You teach us, beseech us to stand and be clear.
We dance and we leap, erratic and bright.

Quietly growing at edges of sight
We court you, we warm you, and all who are near.
We are the sparks that challenge the night.

At noontide displaying our fettle, our fight
We kindle your yearnings to learn and to hear.
We dance and we leap, erratic and bright.

Now swaying now shrinking with heat and with light
By golden hours feasting, we sing with good cheer.
We are the sparks that challenge the night.

In evening, ere fading to embers contrite,
We hand out our passions to those we hold dear.
We dance and we leap, erratic and bright.
We are the sparks that challenge the night.


16 December 2017

Monday, November 20, 2017

Classical Music Video

I'm not dead yet. In fact, quite the opposite. It was a rather productive summer, though not one when I wrote much. Instead I concentrated on recording. If you're familiar with my Studies and Inventions you'll know that they aren't studies in the traditional "if you do this you will learn to play better" sense, but rather more in the "I'm playing around sketching stuff with new techniques" sense that visual artists might use.

The first piece, Study No. 8: "Scherzo," plays with a heavy front loaded double dotted rhythm in the Russian style and some "black key/white key" games in something of the manner of early Stravinsky, which is to say the left hand and right hand aren't always in the same key precisely. Stravinsky sometimes called such pieces "scherzi" or jokes, so I've taken that title.



Next is Study No. 9: "French Moment." This one is a little more straightforward. It's mostly an experiment in modality, dancing between the Phrygian and Aeolian flavors of e. (Mostly settling on the former.)


At this point I started to get a bit more daring with my video production. (Marginally.) For the next piece, Study 10: "Something Jazzy," I decided to use that distinctly American style of splashy signage which is roughly coaeval with the music I wished to evoke.



I should, perhaps, confess that I actually shot this next video before the one above. But it is a much more complex and ambitious experiment. It accompanies a piece called Study 13: "Slate Grey Skies," to which end I felt obliged to play with light in more complicated ways. It doesn't precisely tell a story, but I hope it evokes a strong mood. I have particular adjectives in mind, but I will leave it to you, dear listener, to name them.


Lastly I wrap up with a simple but playful piece called Study 14: "Syncopated Rhythm." It's quite short, so there aren't any fancy cinema tricks here. Just a pianist. In a hat.

 


I did also record a few pieces by other composers. Since I, of course, play other people. Several of them can be found on the youtube channel. Along with other sorts of endeavors entirely. But I will wrap up there for now. Thank you for following along.

Sincerely,
The Composer


Recording Poetry

Among other things I spent my summer and early fall experimenting with recording and crafting short videos of various sorts. Most were musical and told no story apart from a mood. But several were meant to accompany poetry, and this told a story of sorts. (Since I tend to tell a story with my poetry. Usually. Not always, but far more often than not.)

The videos aren't all that. Two are little more than glorified slide shows, really. But the third involved some location shooting and a bone-fide actor. Unpaid. Volunteer. Which is to say me. Fortunately, the acting was quite simple. (I walked. I can't do much, but I'm a reasonably competent walker.)

Without further ado, three poems:

a tiny flower

Westward Through September


Walking

All three can be found elsewhere on this blog, should you wish to see them in print. But I present them here more as they were intended to be experienced. As always, thank you for joining me.

Sincerely,
The Composer

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Poetry for Springtime

My lover is the storm tossed sea

My lover is the storm tossed sea
And the calm after.
She is waves
Cresting and falling in nearly
Rhythmic succession.
Each mounting taller,
The sea spray
Broken from her by
Wind that curls her peaks
Down onto my decks,
The troughs between, so deep
They bear my keel,
Threaten to break me,
Bow unsupported as I
Steer my course into the
Swell.


My lover is the oasis
And the mirage.
I am mad, dehydrated,
Sun blind from her brilliance,
Thirsting for the water
She shows me lying after the next
Slipface, down the next
Dune, in the secret garden
Nourished from her hidden
Seep.


My lover is the winter mountains
And the avalanche.
She is granite feet,
Cedar thighs, obsidian
Glances, sharper than knives,
Snow and the sunlight on
Snow, movement like
Glaciers unstoppable,
Carving my world,
Cutting me asunder and
Lifting me up, her springtime
Waking my desert and filing my
Sea.

21 March 2017


Friday, April 7, 2017

Morning in the Sun and Other Distractions

So it seems that in the midst of all the hubbub of the new year there were a few things I'd meant to post and never did. And now it's April.


Wherever has sweet time gone while I wasn't looking?

I've posted these one or two other places, so if you've already seen them I beg your indulgence. All are motion picture experiments of one sort or another. All are accompanied by music I've written and haphazardly recorded after a fashion. Two use my toys. One video was even intentionally designed specifically to go with that music, in that MTV way . . . if rock bands had no budgets and stood an inch and a half tall. All tell a story in one way or another. So, hey, they fit, right? Anyway . . .

Let there be video!



I call this first one Christmas on Tartarus. The toys you'll have seen. The over-scale tree in the middle of town? What was that about sweet time? The two piano pieces aren't particularly recent, both hailing from the early aughts. But the video was from last December, so it's new enough.



This next one is more of a story, and less "classical", save possibly in the rock sense. And hey, that's 28mm me and my 28mm sweetheart, so maybe it's a love story.


(Word of warning: this one's a little longer and starts out slow.)


This last one is more of an "art" piece. It's really just a Koyanisquatsi reference if it were a video for Short Ride in a Fast Machine. (Which . . . has been done, of course.) But hey, I think of this as Rachmaninov meets Glass, so maybe that's not altogether inappropriate. The piece probably owes something to both.

Anyway, thank you for watching. And listening.

Sincerely,
The Composer

(See? I really do compose. Honest.)