November so far

Oh how I love the productive, inspiring busy-ness of November. Here's a log of what I've done so far this month:

I went to Chicago! I came face to face with amazing sea creatures at the Shedd Aquarium, ate a Chicago-style hotdog, and heard Oracle Hysterical perform their newest album, Hecuba, with a live orchestra. I loved it, everything about that performance was so sweeping and so right. You should see the video for Where Did You Go, possibly my favourite song of the whole cycle. 

whirlpools.jpg

I was lucky enough to get to sing Three Voices at Constellation while I was there, too. I had a fun time and a really appreciative audience, and got a bracingly opinionated 'recommendation' from chicagomusic.org. It opens with, "Let’s be honest. Morton Feldman’s music, in the main, is a Sargasso Sea of isolated pianissimo notes that bore most people to tears, sleep, or—worst for new music—dismissal." Obviously I strongly disagree, but it's a nice use of metaphor.

The following week included singing with The Knells in Baltimore, twice performing A Midsummer Night's Dream with New Place Players, hosting the debut of a new concert series I'm curating at the Brown Institute for Media Innovation (a success thanks to the amazing microtonal perfection of Miranda Cuckson and Paul Dwyer), and premiering Whirlpools by Fjòla Evans for three voices and four theremins (I got to play two of the theremins! and wear face paint and a glowing scarf [pictured]!). 

For the remainder of the month, I'll be learning a whole bunch of new music, rehearsing for a play about Connie Converse, and making moules every other night because they're so delicious. I'll try and update this page more regularly, too. You stay warm, now.  

Three Voices

morty

This Friday I'm going to sing one of my favourite pieces of music, Three Voices by Morton Feldman at the brilliantly curated Open Ears festival. I can't wait.

I love what Feldman said about this piece - "that's the dialectic that I have in myself, how can I do it abstractly. And it doesn't happen that it works out sometimes, like in this vocal piece. It went the other way. It is luscious, it's sexy, it's gorgeous, you swoon with it, and there's nothing I could have done with it short of throwing it out. Which is a possibility, and if I do, it'll be the first piece that I ever spent a long, long time with that I actually threw out. But at the same time you can make a virtue of all these things, and you could say, 'oh, I was fighting it, and I fight it and I really surrendered to it,' and it's as if I came through some kind of spiritual and emotional cleansing. I didn't... I was weak, I couldn't say no." - from Morton Feldman Says

I'm glad he didn't throw the piece out when he realized it was swoon-worthy. I love intellectual rigor too, but we all need a little exquisite beauty in our lives.  There's still tension between proponents of the abstract and the beautiful in New York, even though the old Uptown/Downtown lines are not as clear-cut as they were in Morty's time. The stubborn, occasionally vehement divide is exciting to watch, it gives incredible diversity to the music scene and it's one of the reasons why I love living in NYC. 

Also, check out the perplexing poem by Frank O'Hara that makes a fragmented appearance in Three Voices:

Wind (to Morton Feldman)

Who'd have thought
that snow falls
it always circled whirling
like a thought
in the glass ball
around me and my bear

Then it seemed beautiful
containment
snow whirled
nothing ever fell
nor my little bear
bad thoughts
imprisoned in crystal

beauty has replaced itself with evil

And the snow whirls only
in fatal winds
briefly
then falls

it always loathed containment
beasts
I love evil