Saturday, March 10, 2012

Performance Diary

There were two events last month which I really enjoyed as they were somewhere between performing and just making music for fun. The more performance oriented event was the great nieces, Rev. Harmon and me doing all the music for a service over at nearby Oak Chapel Baptist Church, a place with which I have a lot of connections through family and friends. The two 12 year old girls played trumpet and flute, the 7 year old sang and played the drum and the 4 year old sang.

For the "Special Music" we did a Taizé meditation/hymn, "This Little Light of Mine" and "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho". For the opening prelude we did a flute, tuba, horn, trumpet version of the Mozart round "Alleluia" which I'd doctored up a bit so that everyone plays right to the end. We also played for the congregation's singing of "Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior", "What A Friend We have in Jesus" and "Sweet Hour of Prayer". The postlude was an instrumental version of "Church in the Wildwood" with me on alto flute the first time with the flute and horn the second time with the trumpet. All the pieces were arranged to fit the playing and singing ranges of the girls.

There were a few minor glitches along the way, but there were also a lot of times where they played and sang beautifully. It was a lot of playing over the course of the service and they just got better as we went along. The audience of family and friends was impressed by how much music we made and just how good it was. But the best thing for me was the girls not letting little glitches snowball, and then going on to do wonderfully well, and most importantly - really enjoying performing and wanting to do it again. At the lesson on the following day they were eager to get new music, asked for challenging things, and have been working very hard since. I didn't perform in public until well in my 20's and it's taken me a while to get used to it. I can't help feeling that for the girls having such a positive experience as this at such an early age is a wonderful thing.

Here's a snap shot of us warming up before the performance with everyone but the 4 year old.

The other event was my having two dozen guests here to the house for a Tibetan supper prepared by my two friends Jamyang and Rinzin. During the social hour leading up to the supper my flute friend Hayley, cello friend Dr. Andy and I made music off and on. The main thing we did was a suite I put together years ago for flute, alto flute and cello made up mostly of pieces from Handel's Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks. We also ran through a piece I wrote back in the 90's for flute and keyboard, with Hayley and Andy doubling the melody. At the very end Andy played his electric standup bass and we did three Dylan tunes.

What I really liked was that there was nearly always background conversation and the music was just part of the event. As Greg Sandow has pointed out from time to time, the whole notion of an audience sitting docilely and silently in the dark listening to classical music performed on the lighted stage is a relatively recent invention. Listening to the recording there are some minor errors, but the main thing I hear is a kind of zest and efferevsence in the music I think would never have happened in a regular concert situation or recording session. It was also just terrific fun to do.

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