Not a Good Sign

First things first, my website has been looking strange lately, but do not fear, I am looking into it now that I’m out of school and have nothing else to do but actually write music.

And speaking of that pesky writing music thing, which is what I supposedly do. Did anybody else realize that writing music is like really hard? I always forget just how hard it is until I try to do it again, and then I’m like WHOA. I can’t remember who said it, and it’s probably a paraphrase, but someone once said something to the effect of “I don’t know anybody who likes writing music. I know a lot of people who like having written music.”

Anyways, I am currently not liking writing a set of songs based on Walt Whitman poems. I’ve written songs for friends before, but what I deliberately chose to not write these for any one person. I’ve always wanted to contribute to the art song repertoire in some form, to create something that could withstand lots of interpretations. Basically, I wanted to create a mass-marketable suit for Men’s Wearhouse instead of being the tailor for a specific person. So, these songs are more for me than anyone else, in that the poetry I’ve chosen has a deeply specific meaning to me, that I am not likely to post on the Internet, you’ll just have to figure it out for yourselves.

Also, last week, I finished what will probably be my last ever marching show. This is the 3rd year I have written them, and every year I am always completely stressed out and missing deadlines and all these things, and I’ve finally decided that I just can’t do it anymore. As much fun as it is to get to play with other people’s music, the whole process was literally taking years off of my life. Anyways, I’m really happy with this show, but unfortunately, I can’t talk about it until the fall because that’s the way these things go.

For whatever reason, I have watched Doctor Atomic every night for the past 5 nights. I think I am secretly an emotional masochist, but that’s another blog post. DA is really interesting, because I think it is some of Adams’ best music, but the pacing of the thing is just a little off, and it gets kind of boring. This happens a lot in the first act during all the technical mumbo jumbo, and it also tends to happen during Kitty Oppenheimer’s big long soliloquies. It just kind of drones on and on a little too long. But I can forgive him because the music is awesome. Specifically, the choruses are all awesome, and every single one of Kitty and that maid’s soliloquies are just heart-breakingly gorgeous. During the final scene, right when the bomb is like 5 minutes from exploding, Kitty sings this gorgeous Muriel Rukeyser line: “We are hopes. You should have hoped us./We are dreams. You should have dreamed us.” and the way Johnny sets it is above the staff and just so gorgeous. Here is Kitty’s gorgeous Act 1 aria:

As a side note, how on earth are there 2 (TWO) DVD’s of Doctor Atomic and there is not a single CD recording? It’s all I want on my iPod is that Act 2 tenor aria where he is talking about his dream where he is falling off the tower holding the bomb. UGH. Somebody get on that right now.

Speaking of boring and operas, I watched The Enchanted Island last week, and as much as I wanted to love it, I literally fell asleep for at least 30 minutes during the first act, which is not a good sign. The main problem, in my humble opinion, is that there were way too many arias, and there was not enough Plot Development. Also, it took like half the first act before we had an aria in a major key, which is not a huge deal, but it starts to wear on the ears. Anyways, the singing was pretty fantastic for most of the show, so that kind of made up for everything. Joyce DiDonato is maybe the actual best thing since sliced bread and any chance to hear her sing is Worth It.

If I had the energy to come up with a segue, here is where said segue would occur. Writing for the piano is super hard. I have the utmost respect for composer/pianists like Timothy Andres who just kind of do it all the time, but it’s something I have never totally felt comfortable doing. This comes up a lot when I’m writing piano parts for ensemble pieces and for songs, but it has started to come up explicitly writing this new piece for myself to premiere this summer. This is one of those things that I don’t really have an explanation for. I find it really easy to get locked into certain types of sounds when I’m improvising at the piano, but it tends to get really boring if it’s just that for 15′ or however long the piece is. That was partially the reason for writing this piece- I wanted to see if I could kind of breakthrough to a new style of piano writing for myself, but so far I am waiting on that to happen. In the meantime, I’m just going to play a bunch of Ravel and hope it wears off.

Now, here’s all the things I’m too lazy to talk about but that you should know about:

Everybody go listen to Regina Spektor’s new album streaming on NPR right now and go pay cash money for it when it comes out next week. And if you’re not the world’s second biggest Regina Spektor fan (I’m #1), go buy all her other albums right now. (Hint: Soviet Kitsch is my favorite. This new record is maybe her best one since then.)

Go pay money for Nico Muhly’s new recording of Drones and Piano played by the awesome Bruce Brubaker. I’m trying to find a time to play it myself, but the right time just hasn’t come yet.

If you haven’t yet, go read about all this crazy, krazytown stuff about the Met and Opera News and Krazy Peter Gelb. It’s getting crazier by the day over at Lincoln Center.

Then read this, which is either the best or worst idea of all time.

That’s all I can think to ramble out for now.

Until next time,

PW

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