Monday, October 29, 2007

Or we will all die

I've been meaning to mention Jarod DCamp's new microtonal radio station 81/80, aptly named after the comma of Didymus, one of my most favorit-est intervals, appearing in a melody in Tune for Lynn Murdock #2, at least as I remember. The radio station is a great source of serendipitous discovery, a very eclectic set of tunes showcasing a wide variety of styles, putting paid to the oft-said notion of the microtonal 'style.' The station features a number of people I've met over the years, plus all those who came after I stopped paying as much attention, and the web site seems to have an old picture of me by Debra St John. Note that Kyle Gann has blogged the station and we would all do well to search in this entry for the current blog title and read the surrounding paragraph. I myself have promised to do a little tuning up of the Mordake opera.

And, by the way, changed the color scheme on my website to match a newfound interest in truth, honor and transparency.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Gerard Grisey changes a tire

I went to see Alex Ross speak tonight at Wheeler Auditorium on the campus of my nourishing and most bounteous mother the University of California at Berkeley. The talk was a brief overview of twentieth century music and the Bay Area's contributions, especially those of the more famous of the minimalists, since many of them had their early careers here. He's on a combined book tour (The Rest is Noise) and trip to see the premiere of Appomattox by Philip Glass at the San Francisco Opera. Lynne and I saw it on Tuesday and I was weeping unconsolably afterwards for the loss of one of my heroes, drinking one Baileys after another sitting in the Biergarten at Zeitgeist. I should have given up after Galileo Galilei, for which we also made the mistake of making an effort to see the premiere (at the Goodman Theater in Chicago in the hot midsummer of 2002). John Duykers asked me to go to the latter since he was starring as the mature GG, but some terrible truths are better left unknown.

Even though Jim Bisso stood me up for Berlin - Ecke Schoenhauser, I did finally meet Richard Friedman in the flesh, and Paul Dresher was there. In 1990 I was in Japan for Yamaha demos and I went into an enormous music store in Tokyo - don't remember the name - where I picked up a tremendously beautiful edition of the complete scores of Satie. But the small heart lifting experience was finding the 'west coast composer' section which contained only two CDs, Paul's and mine, proving that from a very great distance two people of such markedly different stature can look almost the same size.

Speaking of heroes and those of great stature, I've been thinking about Gérard Grisey a lot lately. Partiels is a tremendous work and he died way too young and neither he nor I could change the tire on my old yellow VW bug when it blew out on the way back from Stanford.

Friday, October 5, 2007

In my country I have coat of dog

While I was drinking my way through Old Europe last week the Mordake Suite #1 was played on Music from Other Minds, the radio arm of the Other Minds Festival, hosted by Jim Bisso's friend and former colleague at Sun Microsystems Richard Friedman. Jim was in fact 'riffed' from his job last week and has once more taken the reigns of the gelded stallions of the Leisure Class, giving him more time to work on our sex comedy libretto. Oh, how I wish for such a forced retirement, the placing in the lock of my golden handcuffs the sacred key of freedom, to write the next in the series of my great works. After my trip I'm so in the mood to get back to it all, having had my arms loaded up with inspirational moments, visiting old friends in the arts and the technologies of art. I went to see my drinking buddy Alexei Kornienko conduct the piece of high modernism Evocation (1968) by Dieter Kaufmann, a Carinthian composer, in the Konzerthaus Wien with Elena Denisova as the violin soloist. The piece thrilled me like I haven't been thrilled for while, the sound of 40 strings and voices playing in a divisi cacophony of dramatic gestures, the members of the chorus frantically covering their ears and listening oh so closely to their tuning forks to get the next entrance, the soprano leaping from one unsupported frequency to one as far away as possible. I'm inspired to try to reach that level of dramatic height with my own poor fumblings through my own quite different approach. But I went because Alexei has conducted all my European opera performances, including the German versions of both Sub Pontio Pilato and A Little Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil, and Elena's 13 Capricen is an incredible virtuosic firework of violinism. Lynne was there as well, tolerating the din as she has not quite the acquired taste for it, but taking some lovely photos of the cramped stage. She's blogged a bit about the trip included some pics of me here. And, speaking of the blogging illness, filmmaker and colleague Sierra Choi seems to be now hacking up a bit of phlegm as well, writing anecdotes about me and also using our home in the pilot for her latest TV show. Some of Lynne's lovely works appear as well as my recent li'l waltz.

Right, the title. We met up with Erika and Pete on their belated honeymoon in Vienna. Erika works at Torso Vintages here in town and related following incident: Russian woman fingers vintage mink, a hard edge of disdain apparent, turns to her and says with that accent, ...

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

soleil d'or

Since Jesus was assumed bodily into heaven, there aren't many bits of him available to venerate, but a lovely umbilical cord reliquary is just a block up from our Paris Apartment at the Cluny (see to the right: De Umbilico Domini Jesu Christi) and of course there are the many pretenders to the præputium scattered about Europe.

Yesterday's adventure was being allowed into the atelier and other sancta sanctorum of the Chateau de Versailles by Lynne's friend Laurent, a peintre décoratif who has the magical key that lets you through any door at the place. And, as a sign of special affection and respect, our friend Emily the gilder was given a large and faintly odorous piece of rabbit skin glue by one of the master gilders there, a two year supply for and a necessity for the lengthy but infinitely superior water gilding process. Whillikers, they use a ton of the stuff there to coat most every surface with gold and more gold, dogs of gold, arrows of gold, shields of gold, helmets of gold, and especially the golden rays of the sun to glorify the sainted King Louis, Le Roi Soleil.

And today, took a pilgrimage to IRCAM to visit Michael Fingerhut to talk about digital libraries and music information retrieval and life and death and get the ten dollar tour of the place, a place of my dreams for so many years, underneath the Place Igor Stravinsky, imagined as a place with stone steps worn by so many knees. Discovered today that Gérard Pape is director of CCMIX (Xenakis's UPIC) and have tried to get in touch but no luck yet. We corresponded a few years back when we found we had both written operas on Max Ernst's A Little Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil. I haven't heard it and I don't believe he has heard mine. Ah well. In trying to find Gérard's address, discovered that Matt Heckert had also considered an opera on the same book.
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