This Saturday, tenor Christopher Aaron Smith will be singing a recital of new American works in Boston’s Church of St. John Evangelist – music by Dominick DiOrio, Andrew Wilson, Monica Houghton, David Edgar Walther, and David Zannoni.
I had thought the program would also include the long-awaited (by me) premiere of my Dog Songs (1998), but apparently the presenters asked Mr. Smith to replace my piece because the texts were too “racy.”
Dog Songs is a parody of the Romantic song cycle – a high-strung pooch with a poetic temperament yearns for love, questions the meaning of life and reveals his darkest fears.
Not quite sure what they found objectionable about it. Perhaps it was the conclusion of the cycle, in which the lovesick protagonist is running free through his neighborhood when he encounters a scent left by a terrier he has admired from a distance. He summons the full force of his deepest artistic aspirations in an effort to frame an appropriate response:
This calls for something special.
Something strong, yet elegant.
Something sparkling, and original,
so she will know
I think of her often.
She will know
I’d like to meet her.
I’ll let her know
I live alone – almost.
And when she wags her tail
the air smells
Could that have been what they found offensive?
Nah – couldn’t be.
In any case, it may all be for the best. Christopher has promised to reschedule the premiere with another presenter, and I had been kind of sorry he was planning to do it this weekend in the first place, because I’ll be in southern California.
Yes, I’ll be in California – the Idyllwild Symphony Orchestra is playing the not-quite-so-long-awaited premiere of Part One of my Schumann Trilogy. On Saturday night, they’ll perform it at Idyllwild Arts Academy; on Sunday afternoon they’ll give an encore performance in Los Angeles’s REDCAT. I’m looking forward to spending a few days in the idyllic setting of the Academy, followed by my first visit inside Disney Hall.
Part One of the trilogy is called Figments and Fragments. It starts off as a series of brief character pieces. The pauses between the character pieces gradually take on a life of their own, overwhelming the narrative, until the music disintegrates into paralysis. The connection to Robert Schumann’s work is occasionally explicit, but more often conceptual.
The seven sections of Figments and Fragments are continuous, as follows:
Don’t think there’s anything there that REDCAT would find offensive, but one never knows. If you are in LA on Sunday, come on down. If not, there are performances next fall in Salt Lake City and Boise. For some reason, this piece is staying on the left side of the continent at this point. Probably too racy to venture further east.
Peter Askim, Music Director of the Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra, has assembled a pretty challenging program. In addition to my premiere, he’s also conducting Pierre Jalbert’s Les espaces infinis, Aaron Jay Kernis’s Too Hot Toccata, the west coast premiere of Vijay Iyer’s Interventions, and the world premiere of his own trombone concerto, Still Points. I’m looking forward to meeting Peter – he’s managed to find a nice balance between conducting, composing and playing the double bass – no small accomplishment.
And I actually managed to get through a post without saying “string quartet.”