Last week, I, along with 7 other UMaine faculty and 4 students, managed to play a recital, in spite of the fact that the University was closed for parts of two days just before the event. This is kind of a deal for us, since many faculty live on the coast, or commute long distances (like myself – see title of this blog). So traveling to the rehearsal/gig can be as difficult as playing the rehearsal/gig. Plus, the faculty had just experienced weather-related challenges when our Pierrot lunaire performance was postponed by that cute storm Nemo in February. (Faculty at our sister campus in Gorham had a similar Pierrot Experience with last week’s storm – just ask Dan Sonenberg.)
So, it was a relief that the concert went off as scheduled, since we were hosting a guest composer (and my former teacher) Peter Westergaard. He was able to make the final rehearsal and performance of his new trio for clarinet, ‘cello and piano, All Odds. This was the only piece on that evening’s program that had NOT changed since the original planning last spring. Back then, it was going to be a clarinet-piano show with one trio piece, but the “new” Paul Schoenfield piece turned out not to exist quite yet (we hope to play that sometime in 2014). Then, as I mentioned, UMaine’s Pierrot got postponed twice, essentially, so rehearsals for that were still going on in January. Adding more rehearsals for clarinet-piano got sort of tricky. Then, a faculty/student group that was working on a Scott Wheeler piece wound up with no available concert date on which to perform, in part because of all of the scheduling weirdness.
Finally, we went with a program of contemporary music by composers whose names begin with “w” – Westergaard, Wheeler, Weir (a clarinet-piano piece, oldest piece on the concert) and Wiemann. My piece was the last addition to the program – the faculty singers that were originally scheduled to perform my songs next year decided that they would ramp up their rehearsal plans, and do a premiere this semester before repeating the work in the fall. For which I was really grateful – here’s the last movement, on Sarah Manguso’s poem “The Rider,” for soprano, mezzo-soprano and flute:
The Westergaard visit (Peter and his wife Barbara) tuned out great, although moving around parking lots that had not been plowed made for some high level strategizing. They were impressed with the non-pretentious-ness of Orono (particularly Pat’s Pizza) and with the still dominating amounts of still-white snow. And with local beer – microbrews being an important part of the local culture. Unless you’re my husband and want to order a Bloody Mary for photo contrast while hosting other people drinking beer:
University of Maine University Singers (and piano majors) Aaron Waldman and Will Sawyer, pressed into keyboard service – photo from the Singers’ current regional tour.