Monday, October 11, 2010

a fine premiere

I just experienced one of the most sublime features of being a composer.

The rehearsal and premiere of Night No. 2 at Berkeley Espresso was such a treat. I wrote it in relatively conventional fashion, for precise execution in a controlled sound environment (a concert hall) by trained musicians. What I heard confirms this is the first piece I've written without a mentor's input that I still like. The recording is on its way.

Other pieces in the concert included a beautiful violin and piano duet by Dan Becker and a fall-down-laughing two piano four hands by Ian Dicke, a kind of jazz meets minimalism in virtuosi.

On the way home from San Francisco I detoured to the Ch'an Meditation Center in Queens, where I enjoyed a talk on the four phenomena of self, lunch, and a long service on the Great Compassion Repentance. There is a remarkable section in the middle of this slowly sung service featuring a long mantra repeated at great speed and without pause 14 times. Its rhythm is shaped with nonsensical syllables somewhat like onomatopoeia in distinctly irregular lines; the repetitions draw it out to incomprehensible length. It was beautiful, though jeweled flowers didn't fall from the heavens as the coda indicates.

I was hardly expecting minimalist choral music flawlessly performed in the middle of service.

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