A Very Brief Tribute—and an Invitation

Life never ceases to astound me, the people in my daily experiences in particular. This Friday evening, for example, I am going to another concert that will involve a whole host of dedicated, skilled, passionate musicians all working together to make history come alive in their performance. There will be wonderful music from greats like George Frideric Handel and Henry Purcell, and less widely known stars who also had connections with the London musical scene in a time when instruments were quite different, compositional and singing styles distinct from what we know nowadays, and the world, even of a metropolis like London, much smaller and simpler than the bright lights and wild energy we know now—yet the stories that the songwriters and performers of that age were telling differed rather less than you might think.The College of Music here at the University of North Texas where my husband conducts and teaches is gigantic, in some ways rivaling the sensation of a city itself, at times. Little London, if you will. Nearly sixteen hundred music majors and their teachers and peers work together to make all of these impressive performances, and of course they are far from limited to early music, though that’s the focus of the concert I’ll be attending. Tonight, there was music of Frank Zappa; tomorrow, voice and instrumental recitals precede the early music performance by the Collegium Singers and Baroque Orchestra; next week, along with many more spring recitals, there will be the Grand Chorus performance of Beethoven Nine and Vaughn Williams, and there are more wind symphony and jazz and chamber ensemble performances yet to come before the school year ends. It really is a bustling metropolis of its own kind, dazzling and almost losing me in its complexity. But again, the stories remain the same. It’s always about adventure and drama, love and longing. We seek to connect through the communal experiences of music.

So if you want to join in and can’t get to the campus, you can always tune in via the live stream, with many of our friends and relatives, by clicking on the link here. Or play or sing your own song, among your own friends and relatives. I imagine your stories will be familiar as well. I think I can hear them across this vast city of ours.Digital illo + text: Maze/Amaze

Peter Pan vs. Mother Earth

Maturity is a hard concept to nail down. So few of us would willingly embrace the larger idea of maturity after all: the implication is too much doused with the odor of aging and the loss of innocence, playfulness and joie de vivre.

But if I can move away from those irksome, unflattering aspects of maturation, there is a whole world of better and more admirable traits awaiting me. To refuse to grow up, as so famously done by Peter Pan, one has to reject all of those pleasures and opportunities afforded only to those willing to submit to the passage of time.

I will continue to avoid becoming ensnared in the traps and trials of aging as long as I can get away with it, and probably further. Who wants to become exclusively serious, constantly responsible or particularly predictable? Not I! Age may force me to slow down my physical pace or even make me willing to concede that there is such a thing as a skirt too short or heels too high or a blouse too fitted to be quite seemly for my years, never mind that choosing certain forms of entertainment or places to go or goals to achieve are not particularly well suited for me anymore.

But I am also glad to let down the barriers to other aspects of maturity, and to embrace my aging with a certain relief when it comes to those. I care less and less, for example, about whether I look fashionable or impressive, so the heels and hems can be whatever altitude suits my comfort and mood. I’m happier in my own skin with every year spent getting to know and define and design it.

That, my friends, is the greatest gift of aging: I am freer from the worries, demands and expectations of the world around me and can work at shaping who I am, what I want, and how I feel more deeply and contentedly than when I thought there was a greater need to conform. Youth is not nearly so unfettered as we idealize it as being; so long as more mature people own our territories of home, school, work and even play, they also rule our lives. So long as we concern ourselves with comparison, competition and popularity, we let others have the power as well. When we learn to fit in and find community by being our truest selves, it changes the tune entirely. This is the richness, ripeness and harmony–within and between–conferred by true maturity.digital illustrationAnd while I’m thinking about musical metaphors, I really must give you a link to my husband’s latest YouTube appearance, conducting the beautiful and magical Monteverdi Vespers of 1610 with the Collegium Singers and Baroque Orchestra of the University of North Texas, with some tremendous guest artists singing and playing alongside the artful student and faculty musicians. This production was the premiere performance of the new edition of the Vespers that was developed by UNT professor Hendrik Schulze and ten of his graduate students, and among the instrumentalists playing on marvelous period instruments were some of the greatest players now gracing the halls and stages of the Early Music genre. Enjoy!

Foodie Tuesday: Half Baked Ideas

photoAlthough I know that sometimes it’s nicer to avoid stuff that we like but can’t have, when I’m not able or supposed to have something either for a period of time or ever but I really enjoy it, I can find comfort in fixing it for others. So, under a directive to avoid both flours and most sugars and yet invited to a potluck, what did I want to bring? Cookies. I didn’t really want to just show up with an armful of nothing but store-bought treats, because it wouldn’t involve any hands-on fun or creativity, but it was as usual too hot to want to stand around the oven’s radiant dragon-breath all through the midday.

Solution: fill and fiddle with ready-made cookies.

So for the UNT Collegium Singers’ choir party I bought a batch of sugar cookies, some also-ready-made filling and icing and decorating goodies, and grabbed a few things around the kitchen and got going.

photoOne bunch of the cookies I treated as traditional iced sugar cookies. Thankfully, as I’m anything but a pastry chef, I’m utterly skill- and experience-free in creating traditionally iced sugar cookies, so mine are distinctly individualistic, though perhaps far from artful. Hey, they’re decorated with love. University of North Texas green and white love.photoAnother number of the cookies were made into salted vanilla creme sandwich cookies. The scraggly would-be letters on top of those were brushed on using and ‘ink’ of just vanilla bean paste mixed with food glitter and food coloring. The filling is just another ready-made cookie filling, sprinkled with a tiny pinch, in each sandwich, of crunchy Maldon sea salt.

photoThe other sandwich style cookies were filled with a spread of–you guessed it–ready-made lemon curd, with a dose of ginger juice stirred into it. I used the remainder of the lemon-ginger curd, mixed with more edible glitter and food coloring and a quantity of powdered confectioners’ sugar and piped it into some free-form treble clefs to top those cookies.

Opportunity to have vicarious dessert meets low-maintenance approach. Works for me!

A Choral Symphony

Listening in on rehearsals for the new Jake Heggie Ahab Symphony a companion to his opera Moby-Dick), I wrote. Tonight (24 April 2013), if you’re not able to attend in person, you can watch and listen to the live streamed performance of the world premiere at 8 pm CST at this link, featuring tenor Richard Croft, the University of North Texas Symphony Orchestra and Grand Chorus and conductor David Itkin: http://recording.music.unt.edu/live. In the meantime, from me:digital artworkCharacteristic Frequencies

Light, to begin, as though it were the dawn,

And whispered voices breathed themselves awake,

And sentience would rise and fall and make

A storm, turn faint again, scarce moving on–

On lyric waves these messages were sent,

Foretelling danger and the pangs of grief,

Then, gentler, sing of comfort and relief,

Follow each graceful passage where it went–

This, while the song comes lapping up at me,

Comes pulling like the most insistent tide,

Whether the sound grows deep or thin and wide,

Draws me on deeper in this sonic sea–

Seek me no more, but let me run aground,

My soul sunk in these waves, and listening, drowned.digital artwork

May I Suggest . . .

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The University of North Texas Collegium Singers in dress rehearsal for their performance at the Berkeley Festival of early music, June 2012, Dr. Richard Sparks conducting. Yes, *that* Richard Sparks.

MUSIC.

Having had my senses immersed in the bath of fall season-opener concerts of all sorts lately, to the literal tune of hundreds of voices and instruments in symphonies, marches, art songs, musical theater melodies, electronica, motets, chaconnes, folk songs, choral masses, lullabies and all sorts of other lovely music, I am reminded as always at this time of year that such an intense schedule of events, however fabulous and rich they are, can be exhausting. More importantly, though, I am reminded that it’s also invigorating, inspiring and often utterly thrilling.

It’s also the time of year when the European choral magazine for which I proofread and text-check translations goes back into full production for the year. The articles and news items are all full of reviews of the summer season’s festivals and conferences and the amazing machinery that underlies these productions, from choosing and ordering music scores through civic action, political efforts, fundraising, singer scholarships, educational programs for participants and audiences, performers’ uniform shipping, young composers’ symposia, etc, and right on down to whether ‘civilian’ supporters of the group are allowed to arrange the music stands or chairs onstage if the local symphony hall union members are on strike. At the heart of it all is such a profound passion for music that millions of people worldwide, including those from countries and cultures one might be surprised to find even having the time or energy amid their economic, social or yes, war-related battles to sing and to listen to singers. If there’s a genuinely possible force for world peace, my friends, it may well be in music.

More personally, it’s music that is a central force for my own happiness, for a large number of reasons. Every one of those listed above comes into my own life and being regularly. But as you know, I am partnered for said life with a musician, and so the whole topic comes that much more sharply into focus. Music has been a glue for us two from the very beginning of ‘us’. Ask our mutual dear friend, a fellow musician, if I were single and might therefore be ‘available’? Check. Collaborate over a large-scale music performance and its visual presentation as a way to get to know each other a bit, hovering around each other during rehearsals and preparation? Check. Go on a first date to a Mark Morris Dido and Aeneas dance performance [yes, truly spectacular, by the way] for which my suitor had prepared the singers? Check!

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Since thousands vie for the dozens of positions in the final selected groups, high school students in Texas undergo a rigorous preparation for All-State Choir auditions, studying the literature in workshops and camps across the state each summer to compete in their local and regional trials before the year of All-State even arrives. This is the UNT group working in the summer of 2012, rehearsing in the camp organized and run by Dr. Alan McClung, assisted by UNT students and graduates and conducted each year by a different guest conductor–this year, by my spouse. What can I say, it’s what he does. And what I love to hear and see.

What followed is, was and ever shall be musicocentric. Our honeymoon (more about that in a future post) was built, in fact, around my fiance’s conducting gig–a gig including, naturally, our aforementioned Dual BFF as accompanist–at a choral festival in Veszprém, Hungary, arranged under the auspices of the parent organization that spawned the magazine for which I still do editorial duties, if you can follow that sprawling, meandering melody line. One might say that it all began with music and went racing straight downhill from there. Or, if one feels as I do, that music has brought uncountable joys into my life from earliest memory to the present, and will sustain me until the end. In any case, one of the clear high points of musical pleasure has been attending the myriad concerts, events, conferences, performances, and festivals that bring musicians and music lovers together all over the world. A huge number of our favorite people are those whom we’ve met in and through all of this music-related stuff. We have deeply loved ‘family’ literally around the world whom we’ve met and with whom we’ve bonded through musical acquaintance.

If you haven’t done so yet, or not recently enough, may I suggest that you ‘get thee to’ the nearest conference, symposium or festival involving music as soon as you’re able. If, like me, you aren’t an active participant, know that every artist needs his or her cheerleaders and fans and supporters, and that your mutual love of the art will mean more than that you stood onstage during the work or the bows. Yes, even non-musicians can and should pitch in–even those with no sense of pitch can fold programs, stuff envelopes, recruit audience members and donors and board members and political supporters, can drive the shuttle that carries the singers and their accompanists from venue to venue at the festival, and can buy tickets and bask in the glorious sounds from town square to church nave to school ‘cafetorium’ to symphony hall and shout a resounding Bravissimi! to all and sundry.

Beyond that, though, the immersion of being in a place where a huge number of people, participants and supporters and happy observers alike, have come together from a wide range of territory for an extended period of days solely for love of music–that is a wholly different and magical experience everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy at least once. So I commend them to you, the small-scale community events offered by your local affiliated high schools and the international events hosted by long-lived organizations in exotic places and every variation on the theme you can find. I promise you will leave with a song in your heart and memories to last you to when all of your other memories have faded to dust and perhaps beyond. If music be the food of love, play on! For though in this line opening his play ‘Twelfth Night‘ Shakespeare exposed the Duke of Orsino’s conviction that being surfeited with love (in this instance, via its musical surrogate) would cure him of his hunger for it, I think that quite the opposite is true: if they are excellent, the more we experience them and are filled with them, the more we crave both love and music.

Food of that sort for thought: visit first the websites and then the events offered by your local choirs, bands, orchestras, theaters, and performance companies. My own favorites are hosted by professional organizations of music educators, conductors and performers simply because those are the ones I’ve naturally had the privilege to attend, as consort to my musical prince charming, and these all offer performances by top artists that are open to the public, sometimes even with free admission. Explore them! The organization that ‘sponsored’, or inspired and was the jumping-off point for, our honeymoon with its Singing Week in Veszprém–with its half-dozen ateliers conducted by musicians from Europe and North America and singers and whole choirs from all over as well–was what is now called the European Choral Association-Europa Cantat and it hosts a wide variety of such choral events throughout each year, with a focal youth choir festival occurring triennially in places like Passau, Leicestershire, Barcelona, Utrecht, Torino (2012), and Pécs, Hungary (a locale to be repeated in 2015).

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Just this month, the newly minted University Singers at UNT performed their first concert of the season with my spouse at the helm. If you live in or near a college town, you’ll find endless opportunities for attending all sorts of musical events, many of them free and most of them truly outstanding–after all, these people are all here gaining expertise for what may be their whole life’s passion, and performers need great audiences too.

Pop, folk, jazz, rock, blues, punk, bluegrass, Early Music, all flavors and kinds of music and individual organizations from the Oldtime Fiddlers [I once got to run the stage lighting for their competition in Washington state–fabulous fiddling, huge fun and even some fantastic yodeling!] to the Verona Opera [I can say from my one experience there that genuine opera under the stars is something not to be missed, even if it’s still 40°C when the singing ends in the middle of the night]: there is something for practically any musical taste out there, and many of them that I enjoy immensely are included among these. My personal pet organizations among the professional gang also include many others: IFCM (International Federation for Choral Music), ACDA (American Choral Directors Association), ACCC (Association of Canadian Choral Communities), TMEA (Texas Music Educators Association), Chorus America, the Boston (odd-numbered years in June), Berkeley (even-numbered years in June), and Vancouver (annually in August) Early Music festivals, and ever so much more.

It’s that Time Again

photoIt’s a time of year when a whole lot of concerts and recitals are reawakened in the College of Music hereabouts, so tonight we headed out for the usual eight-in-the-evening music making. The sunset led us west to the concert hall–but just barely, as the evenings are shortening already by now–and the house was well crowded with people eagerly pressing in to hear their first of the orchestra’s season of performances. Arturo MárquezDanzón No. 2, Ludwig van BeethovenPiano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58, Béla Bartók – Concerto for Orchestrathe latter, a scintillating performance of the virtuosic, wonderfully evocative and cinematic piece to set the bar very high for the year.

It’s also time to get another day’s post up on the blog, if I’m to meet my ‘local midnight’ deadline. Time to gather up my thoughts for the day into whatever package has offered itself, arrange my neurons into a more restful, sleep-invoking mode than last night’s (not another wake-every-half-hour one, please! What was that all about?) and recharge my batteries for tomorrow. Time also to look ahead in the autumn and think of when we can invite friends for visits, what is next on my long list of projects and chores and art making events that fits with my current resources and mood.

In short, it’s That Time: life as usual. The good, the busy and the unpredictable continue to flood my days and nights with change and, as it’s said, the more things change the more they stay the same. I don’t know for certain what tomorrow will bring beyond the few enigmatic things noted on a fairly bland and unadorned seeming calendar, yet every hour that ticks by in my existence brings with it some new piece of knowledge, a surprise visitor, events not planned or expected, a whole array of shifting atoms that make each moment quite different and generally much larger than I feared or hoped it would be. And that is how, in a sort of cosmic conundrum, I manage to find mystery and adventure and the impossible all utterly normal and quite the logical thing to happen to me, time and again.photo

The Sun Always Returns to the Sky

digitally doctored acrylic painting on canvasThis week that is far from a fatuous statement, even from a happy-go-lucky bit of fluff like me. I am always well aware that my life is, was and (I hope) ever shall be a dance party, a dessert buffet and a self-indulgent lounge-by-the-pool compared to most others’ lives. I am grateful to be such a spoiled, blessed or insulated–depending upon your definition; I would admit to all of them in vast quantities–person and like to think that I would never take such wealth for granted.

There are always sharp reminders for me in the family, friends and friends-of-friends who are doing valiant daily battle just to be alive, and if able, to maintain a modicum of quality and dignity in that life, when they are the unwilling hosts of those unwelcome shadow companions of chronic illness–physical, mental, and/or spiritual. I do wish that there were some magic wand I could wave that would miraculously lift away all of those torments and remove the dense dark clouds of them forever, from all people. That is simply a dream, and I know it. But this week I have particular reminders quite close by, and in many ways, of how fortunate I am, and yet also how resilient and remarkable the people and the world around me are as well.

I mentioned yesterday’s storms: the tornadoes that shredded roofs, trees, tractor-trailer trucks and neighborhoods as though they were so much tissue paper. The hail that shattered shelters and windows and destroyed crops. The rain that immersed the already open wounds of the storm-beaten regions in additional water damage. And of course the early high temperatures in the area that will contribute to faster decay and more difficult cleanup and repair work to follow. And not one little iota of the damaging aspects of that touched our home or us personally. Even my tiniest dainty garden sprouts are still thrusting their green leaves upward today. In brilliant sun.

As oversized as All Things Texan can be, the moods of the weather at its wildest are for the most part quickly forgotten by the broad Texas sky, which today is intensely blue and dotted with the mildest of cotton-wool clouds and polished with blazing warm sunlight. The trees, following a light pruning by the winds that mainly took off deadwood and weak twigs in our neighborhood, are lifting their green crowns in thirst-quenched pleasure once more. Barring nuclear winter, it seems that the sun in north Texas always tends to return rather quickly after the darkest and angriest of nights.digital painting of acrylic painting on paper

The thunderclap that affected me more directly this week was not from the stormy skies of a tornado system but via a telephone call from ‘home’: Mom’s recovery from her pair of spinal fusion surgeries hit a serious setback. Her pelvis cracked in a stress fracture. What does it mean? Many more weeks of immobility and pain for someone who has already endured years of it. Another surgery–tomorrow–for the installation of yet more hardware to stabilize her fragile frame. Total bed-rest for what must seem an eon to someone who has been a virtual shut-in for a long time, the woman famous for a lifetime of being out and about taking care of all the rest of the world before her stenosis, scoliosis, Parkinson’s, and joint inflammation all combined to beat her into submission. But whose telephone calls have never ceased to be mainly aimed at reassuring those around her that she maintains her love and concern for themus–and is bracing for whatever the next phase of her fight brings. I hang up from the call and rather than going to pieces in sadness, frustration and anger over the cruelties that her health has dealt her incessantly in these last years, I am weirdly comforted that her doctors are keeping a close eye on her and have a plan for dealing with the current circumstances; that she and my father are, however nervously it may be, committed to seeing through yet another surgery and recovery process; that my sisters and relatives living nearby are keeping a close eye on them and my aunt yet again stepping in willingly to assist with Mom’s care. And that across the world we have a collective host of family and friends who are all cheering them on, willing her well, hoping and supporting in the one way that we can when we are not physically on hand or trained surgeons either one.

In the midst of all of this, the choir-conducting member of my household has the particular and specially challenging time of year that so many western musicians find mighty intense: Holy Week. Never mind that my spouse is in rehearsals for several major upcoming concerts with his and other groups at the university: yesterday afternoon he had rehearsal at 2 pm for next week’s concert with his Collegium Singers (early music choir) that will join them with the university’s Baroque Orchestra, so at the end of that rehearsal he went straight to conduct the orchestra’s rehearsal; when that one finished at 6 pm, he dashed straight over to conduct a rehearsal of the Grand Chorus, which is a combination of his Chamber Choir and Dr. Jerry McCoy’s A Cappella Choir for a major concert on the 25th of this month. Amazingly, he still made it (just) in time to meet me at 8 pm to attend A Cappella’s own concert with Dr. McCoy.

And, oh yes, I was talking about Holy Week. Because of course as my husband is still the interim choirmaster at the Anglican church, he had last weekend’s Palm Sunday services (and Evensong) to conduct, tonight’s Tenebrae service (a ‘service of darkness’ that may have special meaning for many after yesterday’s intense weather slamming the region), tomorrow’s Maundy Thursday evening service, these all interwoven with the usual things musical and administrative continuing at the university; midday and evening services on Good Friday, Easter Vigil to fill with music on Saturday evening, and Sunday morning Easter services. And all the while, day becomes night, night passes, and the sun takes over the Texas sky once more. That’s how it goes.

I merely follow in the wake of all these events and life dramas, taking up the slack in the sails of our little boat as I’m able, and keeping us provisioned with food, clean clothes (keep plenty of black shirts laundered for concerts and services!), and my numerous and sundry checklists of what to do, where to go when, and things we mustn’t forget to bring along. It makes me tired to think of doing what everyone else around me is doing; I’m just glad if I can keep fairly close as I follow them. But I suppose I’m just a little bit like the elephant-following sweeper who is reluctant to ‘leave show-business’, as I wouldn’t trade this Job, however modest it may appear, for anything else on earth. Because the sun, when it shines on me, is so incredibly life-affirming and bright and joyful that I can’t say no to its urgings to come out of the dark and Do things, however small they may be.digital + mixed media

Oceans of Music

photoRecent weeks have seen our household in full music immersion. The casual observer or fly on the wall might be rather skeptical of the claim, when our home–other than occasional brief bursts of singing from my partner’s office while he’s studying a score–is, if anything, more silent than usual. That’s simply because the music is mainly taking us both elsewhere. And thanks to our practice of managing a one person/two places of employment, one car household economy by means of my sometimes chauffeuring him between gigs and staying through on the sidelines when possible, I get to share in the musical inundation.

It’s no surprise that a conductor, especially one who works in one of the largest university music programs on the continent and therefore has colleagues and students almost beyond the counting who offer musical rehearsals and programs well worth our sharing from morning until late every day right alongside and overlapping his own, would be so surrounded by sound. The Anglican church where he’s currently serving has, in addition, the average Sunday in which the choirs he conducts will sing anthems, Psalms and liturgical service music at two full morning Eucharistic services and one Evensong. All of this is, in fact, hardly unique among conductors, many of whom like him also do guest conducting, clinics and lectures and all of the adminis-trivia that accompany choral, educational, ecclesiastical and institutional operations everywhere. I’m still often astounded at what he manages to do, not only logistically but with continued thoughtful musical scholarship and grace.

And always, always, I am moved to gratitude that I’ve had the incredible good fortune to link my life with his, this person whom I not only like and love but also admire immensely for his integrity, artistry and good humor. On top of all this, I get to Go Along for the Ride and listen to it all.

So as things have gained momentum on the calendar chez nous (as they do cyclically in every household), I have been privileged to bathe in oceans’-worth of music to please my ears, to challenge my thinking, rejoice my heart, soothe my sorrows, ease my weariness, shake my complacency, and rock me gently on sonic waves of peace and beauty. I could do with a little more of that household silence, not to mention free time or sleep, and we can safely assume my spouse would welcome these ten times as eagerly. But I can’t think of what I’d willingly cross off the list from among what we’ve been hearing in the last number of weeks.

I always love listening in on rehearsals, whether with groups my husband’s conducting or otherwise, in part for the wonderful music I hear and in large part because, as a non-musician myself, I can enjoy nearly any music more if I’ve not only listened to it a few times to become more familiarized but, especially, if I’ve gotten a sense of what the singers and/or players are being told about the work–its origins, history, style, particular complexities, and so forth–and are being asked to do with it musically and interpretively. Each group of artists converges at an entirely different point in time in the performing arts, each and every time they rehearse or perform, because in addition to gradually improving or changing skill levels and building affinities with the works in question, they each bring different degrees of their daily condition with them for the occasion: health, attitude, and the news of the last hour may color a performance and endanger or enrich it accordingly. All ages and levels of skill and experience and passion can have ‘off’ nights onstage or, conversely, magically exhilarating moments of unsurpassed attunement, somehow, with the universe.photo

I love actual performances, too, of course, where the high drama of potential crash-and-burn or apotheosis resides in every second of the concert, the recital, the act. The power that emerges from the performers nerving themselves and plunging wholeheartedly into the moment is a splendid spectacle and can transport us all to other places and planes. Not having the performance skills myself (nor the will or self-confidence to develop them as necessary), I am all the more aware of what’s at stake and how nearly incredible it is that great things come out of the effort so often. And, of course, that much more appreciative that there are those who can and will share such gifts with the rest of us.

What the last weeks have brought have included a huge range of such gifts. There was an outstanding high school choir whose fine conductors invited my husband to do an evening’s clinic with the singers on literature they’re preparing for a choral competition. Such joy and energy and responsiveness filling the room! Then, some of his sopranos and altos from one of the university choirs singing the lovely and yes, alluring ‘Sirènes‘ of Claude Debussy as guests on a university orchestra concert, calling all of us listeners to wreck our souls on the dangerous promontories of their imagined seashore. Two performances of the uni Symphony Orchestra in a showcase of some of the school’s powerhouse players, including a recently acquired, fabulous violinist who gave a mesmerizing performance of the Allegro moderato of Tchaikovsky‘s violin concerto (Op. 35) each time–once on campus, then at the Texas Music Educators’ Association conference 5 hours’ road-trip south, where if I weren’t musicked up enough lately I certainly could (and did) dive in among the over 25,000 musicians in attendance at the convention.

There was a delightful performance by a doctoral conducting student with his recital choir. Lots of rehearsals and warmups and services with the church choirs, including lovely works by William Byrd, Morten Lauridsen, Gregorio Allegri. Rehearsals with the university Chamber and Collegium (early music) choirs going on as always, and new ones beginning with the combined singers from Collegium and Dr. Jerry McCoy‘s outstanding A Cappella Choir whom my partner was preparing for performances of George Frideric Handel‘s oratorio ‘Theodora‘ under the baton of Maestro Graeme Jenkins of the Dallas Opera, along with the university’s Baroque Orchestra. Ash Wednesday was a road-tripping adventure, with the two of us working at home in the morning, heading to Dallas for him to warm up and conduct the choir in the noon Ash Wednesday service at the church, dashing back to the university for his afternoon Chamber Choir rehearsal, then back to Dallas for the 6 pm service and a following weekly choir rehearsal before going home back north for the night. But oh, so much lovely music sandwiched in between car races!

That was followed by Thursday and Friday nights’ ‘Theodora’ performances–3 hours of ecstatic music about agonizing trials, or good old life-and-death oratorio drama of Handel’s best sort–and then, yesterday’s Metropolitan Opera broadcast of ‘Ernani’, which I told you about in last evening’s post. Squeezed between concerts and rehearsals, a few pauses while at home spent on listening to a Canadian rock CD (yes, pretty listenable!) I just got as a comp for letting the musicians use my art for their CD cover, and especially on stealing bits of time to revisit our nephew’s punk band Honningbarna when I can. Upcoming is, oh, just more of the same: more beautiful liturgical music-making at the church; more rehearsals, recitals, and concerts at school and in town; another major musicians’ conference; the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, opera at the university and perhaps the One O’Clock Lab Band (the university’s top, Grammy-nominated Jazz ensemble), if we can somehow manage the time for it. Holy Week services (about 8 in 5 days, counting only the ones my husband’s conducting). More of the same.photoAnd yet it is music: never quite the same thing twice, nor the same experience of it. Always powerful, always waking up parts of me that I may have forgotten or not even known were there to be awakened. A constantly changing stream of sound-waves that in turn, become oceans of music to buoy me up, toss me around, pull me in, and carry me far, far away.