Tuesday, March 15, 2011


It's on my mind today, commissioning, because I'm practicing and refreshing John Harbison's Songs America Loves to Sing (2004) and Michael Gandolfi's Canzona Nova (2010). Both are ACP commissions. And today I've been talking to a composer member of the Atlanta School, hammering out details for another big commission to come in 2013 or 2014... Look forward to announcing that officially as soon as it's set in stone. Meanwhile, when I work with a living composer and can ask why he/she wrote such and such and if doing it this and that way instead would also be acceptable (because it works better on the piano or because the balance is better with the other instruments, etc etc)... often, even usually, they say yes. It makes me realize that maybe Schubert or Beethoven or Copland or Stravinsky would also sometimes say "yes, fine, go for it." But we performers study study study the score, digging through notes and searching for the compositional key to interpretation or the psychological inners of the composer's mind, trying to be dutiful, knowing that almost always the best performance results from the sincerest allegiance to the score. But then we find inconsistencies, mistakes in the score. And the composer has long since grown silent or lives in a distant land. In the end, one's sense of what is beautiful, what is art has to come into play. After all, when we walk out on stage, the audience are not sitting there glued to the score, they are listening to the aura or the lack thereof. A rambling blog... such are the back and forth inner trials and tribulations of putting together an interpretation and then performing it. At least sometimes we can actually ask the composer and get an answer. Then we have to see if we can love the answer we are given... Fortunately I am convinced by the answers I've received from my questions of Harbison and Gandolfi.

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