This has been a weekend for my students. Jeffery Thyer, my first grad student at Ball State, was in town on Friday evening, and we had dinner at Natasha’s and a good long catch-up conversation. Jeff is in Philadelphia now, and traveling the world, and doing well. I’m proud of him!
He apparently likes Samson too:
Meanwhile, Saturday included housecleaning, laundry, and cooking, then three voice lessons with my private students, followed by a pre-jury house recital with my Webster University voice students, four of whom made it for the festivities and the food. They sang for each other and gave some constructive ideas before juries next week. We dined on burgers and brats on the grill, Duchess potatoes, a spinach and strawberry salad with homemade poppyseed dressing, and pineapple pie.
I had yesterday my first ‘regular’ Saturday in some time.
Samson was determined to get up at 6 a.m., so we did. He barks like he needs to go outdoors, but then he stands at his food bowl waiting for breakfast, so I think I know what he really wants. And it’s not to urinate!
Sam really goes after the Kirkland brand turkey and vegetable canned food. He devours a can of it every day. And the noises that dog makes . . . he sounds like a soundtrack for some kill by a pack of wild, malnourished wolves.
Are all wolves wild? Hmmmm.
Anyhow, I used the morning to plant flowers–dianthus, marigolds, coleus–in the various back-yard containers. I had already planted the begonias in the shaded front planters yesterday. And I pulled up some big clumps of Lysimachia nummularia (creeping Jenny) and moved them to the front planters as well. I’ll do the same out back when I finish potting things there.
The lilac is in full bloom. Tulips and daffodils are long gone now, but the hyacinths are hanging on. My one French lavender plant has come back strong as well, and of course the peonies are tall and proud and will bloom, as usual each year, somewhere around Commencement and Mothers Day.
Sadly, as I mentioned yesterday, my neighbors on either side have allowed their yards to turn into dandelion plantations. I shall be fighting the good fight all season.
My usual housekeeper is indisposed right now, so I took a big swipe at the floors and some dusting on Saturday. And ran a load of laundry. By 9 a.m., all of this done, I’m blogging, and thinking of ironing some shirts that need attention.
Later today comes four voice lessons and a new-student audition. The evening is taken with Webster University Opera Scenes, and then the end of the dance recital in the adjacent building.
The bills are paid. And life is whole and good.
On Friday evening I attended the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra to witness a live performance of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto in D minor, played by Simon Trpčeski and conducted by Vasily Petrenko. These two have together recorded all four Rachmaninoff concertos, and their chemistry and agreement was obvious and genuine. One had the sense they enjoyed working together too.
The soloist certainly brought forward the bombast and bravado of the work, but gave us some mercurial changes of mood and some truly delicate moments that made the work even deeper and more powerful than the usual bang-the-crap-out-of-the-piano approach. Petrenko, tall and slender and sometimes just a bit precious in his gestures, found nuances in the score that I’d never heard, like the macabre sound of muted horns, and some lovely woody clarinet/horn duets. SLSO under his direction sounded crisp and lean, with occasional voluptuous moments in the second movement and that wonderful extended coda to end the concerto. The orchestra delivered on the darkness of the work, but they clearly relished the ultimate explosion of light and exhilaration that rounds out the concerto.
This performance wasn’t Horowitz or Bronfman. And I was grateful to hear Rach 3 new and fresh.
And one more note: our hometown orchestra is a prize gem. A treasure. A whomping good band that ranks with the best orchestras on the international scene today. Saint Louis is a dandy place to be for a lover of orchestral music.
Well, two weeks in, the music is rehearsed, and we’ve had a table read. The Threepenny Opera taking shape. Blocking starts Monday.
This is unusual music, and is therefore challenging to the singers. I am immersed in it already, and so the sound isn’t any trouble, but the hand-written parts are, alas.
So now we have a few days off. But not really, because we have auditions at Webster University on Friday, and then I’m going to symphony Friday evening, and then I teach lessons at home on Saturday, and then go back to school for opera performance, and then I teach five hours of lessons at school on Sunday afternoon, and then have dinner with a former student from Ball State who is now in the Air Force and stationed at Scott Air Force Base nearby, and somewhere in there I need to grade exams and catch up on some school work and clean house and do laundry.
I preach to my students that they need to take time off when they are not feeling well. The body simply needs rest and a ‘no exertion’ policy if it’s going to recover and regain strength.
After a weekend away in my hometown, I rose this morning with sore throat, stuffy nose, and general ‘ick.’ With no fever and no productive drainage, this is clearly another round of allergies.
Buy by mid-afternoon Monday I was feeling pretty puny, and was not able to concentrate on anything, so I came home and went to bed. Two hours later I called in sick to rehearsal. And went back to sleep.
Now 8 p.m. on Monday evening, I have turned on the furnace since I can’t get warm, and I’m bundled under a blanket on the sofa, drinking lavender tea and musing on the wonders of a cup of tea to soothe the ailing body and soul. (And writing a blog entry.)
To brighten spirits, I’ve heard from four students tonight about various things, and have made dinner plans for Sunday with Derek Wilson, formerly of Ball State and Ball State University Singers. Derek is now stationed at Scott AFB nearby.
And Samson knows I’m not feeling well, so he’s especially cuddly tonight.
My bottom line: sleep heals things. So does time. But sleep is the start.
James Stevens, a graduating senior at Webster University, sang the premiere this week of my settings of some of Brian Andreas’ ‘Storypeople’ texts.
Jimmy and Nancy Mayo, his collaborative pianist, presented the songs wonderfully . . . with humanity and warmth . . . no small amount of humor . . . and with great care. I’m delighted to share them here, with Jimmy’s permission.
Here’s a portion of Jimmy’s program notes for these songs:
Storypeople Songs Jeffrey Richard Carter (b. 1961)
Jeffrey Richard Carter is a native of Kansas City, Missouri. Carter received his Master of Musical Arts Degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Central Missouri and his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Kansas. Equally at home teaching, conducting, or composing, Carter’s composition credits include an Opus Award from the Missouri Choral Directors Association for his 1995 anthem “Phos hilaron,” a performance of his setting of Thomas Hardy’s “The Oxen” during a nationwide broadcast on CBS, and his “Eight Musical Insults” written in 1995 for another senior recital. Carter currently serves as Chair of the Department of Music at Webster University and as Resident Music Director for New Line Theatre in St. Louis. This set of songs was written especially for this recital.
Brian Andreas is a writer and artist for www.storypeople.com. His website is a combination of his poetry, stories, and various pieces of art he sells. Andreas’ poetry is noted for its short length but complex emotional content.
A yayable moment
YAY! For no reason it seemed like a yayable moment.
Today is a day when I look out over my life and I see you there.
& I know there is more reason in this world than we will ever understand.
“You job is to focus on my personal happiness,” she said.
“& I’ve got big plans, so break time is over.”
Everything to love
We sat at the edge of the world and you asked me to tell you why,
and though a thousand things come to mind underneath them all was a quiet voice saying because you remind me of everything there is in this world to love.
She stood there, head back, Laughing.
And it took his breath away.
& he suddenly remembered
there are more important things
than having to breathe all the time.
For all the thousand things we do in the world,
I love it best when we sit in the sunlight together
smiling quietly with knowing
that here is the perfect place to be.
One child at a time
I hope it will be said we taught them
to stand tall and proud even in the face of history,
& the future was made whole for us all
one child, one child at a time.