Monday, November 26, 2012

Some Telemann, Thompson in church; my own progress with Sibelius on my 1962 Sonata


Trinity Presbyterian Church in Arlington VA continues to offer interesting classical music at all traditional services.  On Sunday, November 25, 2012 the musicians presented Sonata II by Georg Phillipp Telemann for oboe and recorder (as Prelude, Offertory and Postlude).  I recall an oboe concerto in E Minor on an inexpensive record back in my college days of record collecting.

There was also an anthem “The Last Words of David” (2 Samuel 23:3-4) by Randall Thompson.  The piano part has lots of ascending scales.  The peace is rowdy, but subsides to a quiet ending.  I wonder how a  fugal chorus from Carl Nielsen's heaven-storming "Saul and David" would come across in church. 

Thompson’s best known work is probably the libertarian “The Testament to Freedom” (1943) with texts from Thomas Jefferson. That was played on Washington radio station WGMS a lot in the late 1950s when I was growing up.

I’m starting to make significant progress entering the “completed” Finale of my 1962 piano sonata into Sibelius on the Mac Book.  It’s tedious.  The Note Input process can be tricky when you have to change meters or key signatures frequently (as happens with my “Applause” theme, which migrates among key signatures like F#, E-flat, D, and C;  D# minor is a actually an enharmonic pivot between F# Major and C Minor-Major).
   
The basic plan is to enter it, print it (or copy it to PDF’s and load it to the iPad which can “turn pages” like a Kindle), practice it, and then perform it on the 88-key Casio while recording it into Sibelius in “rubato” mode.  I’ve had some trouble with making that work so far – and winding up with a readable script.  From that performance, one can convert to audio in Sibelius, and them to an mp3 file for upload in iTunes. 

I keep getting pestered to update my Mac OS (probably to “Mountain Lion”, no Richard Parker at least) and Sibelius both.  I’ve heard anecdotally of problems in doing this, so I have to proceed carefully.  I don’t want my scripts to become unreadable (I do back them up).  Most of the expertise about this matter that I know seems to reside in New York City, and I need to find some expertise in northern Virginia. I probably won’t upgrade until finishing and recording a draft of my Finale (pun).   Apple needs to have a way to coordinate support among the major third party vendors who can be affected by operating system changes.   

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Musicorps offers music expression for wounded veterans


This evening, ABC World News covered a story about music therapy for disabled veterans.  One veteran with a prosthetic arm had learned to play piano, and another classically trained musician (Arthur Bloom), with severe wounds, helped found “Musicorps” to provide music opportunities to disabled veterans.   The MusicCorps website  shows the man playing piano with an artificial limb. 


When I was in Basic Training, I acquired mild hearing loss in the right ear from noise exposure on the rifle range.  “Coaching” caused much more noise exposure than shooting. This may sound trivial compared to what the veterans in the ABC report went through, but it still amounted to some sacrifice – for nothing.

ABC did not yet have a web link for the story, but it is on Slate in a story by Anne Applebaum, link here.

Perhaps "Street Pianos" could be brought into this effort. 

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

"Atheist's Paradise", at Woolly Mammoth in DC, combines college, football, and a little cosmology


Sunday night (Nov. 4), I attended a performance of the play “Atheist’s Paradise”, by Bill Goodman, performed by “The Edge of the Universe Players 2”, at the Melton Rehearsal Hall at the Woolly Mammoth Theater Company in downtown Washington DC. This hall is a small stage downstairs in the theater property. The performance was directed by Megan Behm.  The small space was nearly sold out Sunday night.
   
The play is set in a small private college in the Midwest.  The stage props were simple and pretty much remained the same during the performance:  a desk, and a college seal.

Nick Torres plays “Doc”, a football coach who would rather spend his time helping favorite students learn critical thinking in areas of philosophy, especially in the ability to question the foundations of religion. The students are Sheila (Rebecca Phillips) and Bob (Victor Maldonado).  In one sequence in the first act, “Doc” gives Sheila a flying lesson (just by pantomime, without special stage props).  I actually took such a lesson myself once at Redbird Airport in Dallas in 1982.

The university president (Claude Stark) wants Doc to give up his philosophy sideshow and spend all of his efforts on football, and wants to win so badly that he pressures Doc to play an injured player.  Under pressure, Doc has a heart attack, and in the epilogue, he finds out that God (or the Judge), Jan Forbes) is not very pleased with his own questioning of faith and orderly authority.  I thought about the end of Clive Barker’s novel “Imajica”, where Man defeats God – but not here.

The website, which plays the intense chamber music score (with a horn part), is here.  The performance group also has a site, here

The notes don’t name the music composer; I’d like to know who that is.

The playwright says that the capacity of the leader to influence public op inion is important in the play, as is his caretaking of the next generation, in his own way.

Here is an interview with the director:


Her comments about the purpose of college reminds me of the professor in the WB series "Jack and Bobby". 
  
To the extent that the play touches on cosmology, it’s interesting for me to compare it to my own novel and screenplay treatments, which I probably best described on a posting on the “BillBoushka” blog on April 6, 2012.  In my novel, a character “Bill” experiences his temporary “rebirth” carried in the body of an angel (a young man and college student Sal, more self-assured than  Bob in this play), but then goes back to becoming his own person, as he have learned that the angels running the space colony and “Academy” back on Earth are fallible and not immune to entropy after all.  This play made me go back and rethink all of my own plotting. 

I guess this play is a little test of faith. 

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Soulfire: "The Mission in Belize at Double Head Cabbage"


On Saturday, November 3, 2012, Trinity Presbyterian Church in Arlington VA held an 80-minute “Soulfire” rock concert.  The music varied from Elton John to “New York Blues”.  No Lady Gaga this time.

But the main event was a short film and slide show of the Youth trip to a mission (specific location named below) in Belize (Central America) in early July of this year.  There was about 12 minutes of vivid video footage, some of the surrounding countryside and even wild monkeys.  The interaction, as shown in the film, between the volunteers and the kids was more personal than some people would probably be comfortable with experiencing (at least me). There were a few interviews.  There was even a trace of very light drag.  The food – Mexican rice and black beans, no recipes offered.  The film did not have a formal title, so I’ll give it one “The Mission in Belize at Double Head Cabbage”. (There are still photos from the film in a photo gallery on Facebook, here; log on is not necessary.)   High school students are likely to have watched the 1986 film by Roland Joffe, “The Mission”  (Warner Bros.), about a Jesuit mission in 18th Century South America (at least I saw it in 2004 when working as a sub, in a history class.)

This concert was intended to raise money for the 2013 Belize mission, in late June.  An earlier similar concert in March had raised money for relief in Haiti.  


(See also "Nacascolo" in Nicaragua, May 22, 2008, here.) 

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Tehran orchestra, classical music, under cultural and financial pressure in Iran


The Tehran orchestra may well be disbanding, or converting into a smaller group that plays only Persian music.  The pressures now are largely financial as well as cultural, according to an AP, run on p. E10 of the Washington Post on Nov. 3, 2012, by Brian Murphy and Nasser Marimi (from the AP’s Dubai bureau), link here.

The Orchestra has performed Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony before, a fact that inspires anger in religious fundamentalists. Leonard Bernstein performed the Choral Symphony on Christmas Day 1989 after the fall of the Berlin Wall, in Berlin itself, resulting in a DG CD live recording which I have.  (I also have Bruno Walter’s for Sony-Columbia).

It also attracted criticism for playing the Beethoven Seventh (with the provocative rhythms in the Allegretto second movement, and the almost disco-like perpetual motion of the Finale), as well as Tchaikovsky’s testament to forbidden love, the tone poem “Romeo and Juliet”.

The Iran national anthem, however, is a western-style triumphant march.  Compare it to the Soviet nation anthem in the movie “Reds”.