Friday, May 29, 2009

Inspecting Bruckner

Currently, I am sitting on our front porch with my two cats, keeping them out of the way while a home inspector does his job to clean up the one condition on a pending offer on our house (fingers are crossed in the hopes that by the end of the weekend, we'll be actively looking for a new place to live!)

Since I'm being held at bay for the next two and half hours, I figured it would be a good time to begin a blog post about the concert I am doing tonight.
inspector interlude - inspector is talking about our tilty front porch - and describes it as "cool" - which I think is a good thing!
On the program tonight:

"For Music" - Mark Sirett. A Canadian Premiere. Mark currently lives in Kingston, where he was born, but has an Edmonton connection. He studied and taught at the University of Alberta before finishing up his DMA at the University of Iowa. This work was written for the University of Iowa in celebration of their centenary celebrations. So, a Canadian composer's work, which has been performed only once - and not in Canada! Apparently the Iowa performance failed to make an archival recording, so this will also be the first recorded performance of the work. Very exciting!
inspector interlude - a large ladder has been brought out, and the inspector is currently on the roof. I hope he admired the work I did to seal the roof between the house and the attached carriage house.
Second work on the program: "Five Mystical Songs" - Ralph Vaughn Williams. As an Anglican music scholar, I find it difficult to stray far away from this repertoire. This will mark the second time I've conducted it. And learning from previous youthful mistakes - I will not be conducting the last movement "one to a bar". I'm working with local baritone soloist Michael Kurschat, who funnily enough was also the baritone soloist when I last conducted the work about five years ago. We've both grown quite a lot in our musicality and interpretation. Michael and I have been friends for a long time - and it is a pleasure to work with him again.
inspector interlude - buyer overheard saying "I'm not sure if our sectional couch will fit in this living room". I'm not about to go in there and tell him how much trouble we had getting our in there - not to mention the damage to the walls that moving an old upright piano in and back out again did.
The featured work on the program is Bruckner's Mass in E Minor. Scored for wind ensemble and double chorus. I was not familiar with this work until I began to study it for this performance. To be honest, aside from the RVW, I didn't provide much input in the selection of the repertoire for this program. I'm filling in for Leonard Ratzlaff's sabbatical year, and chose much of the program - built around the Bruckner. The Sirett was a perfect fit - it takes care of the Canadian Content that all choirs need here for funding options, and has an orchestration which compliments the Bruckner.

Len's love of Bruckner is no secret - considering the title of his Julius Herford Dissertation Prize winning thesis on Bruckner's Te Deum. The work proved to be a mammoth undertaking. Incredibly challenging for the choir (and conductor). But it has also proved to be very rewarding. There is a lot of exposed unaccompanied choral work, in particular in the Kyrie and Sanctus, which if the choir loses pitch would be disastrous (fff brass entrances would for sure be cringe worthy if the choir had gone astray).

We've had a good week in terms of rehearsals - both an effective orchestra rehearsal on Tuesday and a successful dress rehearsal last night (despite showing up at the church and finding no music stands). The only thing left to do now is to perform - which I'm very much looking forward to doing. Not just because the music is fantastic, and the experience will prove to be very fulfilling. But also because it marks the last performance I have to do for the season.
inspector interlude. Seems to be going very well. Had a nice chat with the buyer - they are buying the house for their daughters to live in while they are going to school. The parents are close to retirment and will be living in their camper for a while, traveling North America. How fun! From all accounts - it seems like a done deal - although I'm keeping my fingers crossed still.
I still have a pretty heavy June ahead with examining trips to Ottawa and southwestern British Columbia. In the middle of that - our church has a royal visit! The countess of Wessex will be visiting our church the morning of June 7th. I fly back from Ottawa late in the evening of June 6th. Wheeee!

Oh, and it seems we have find a new place to live by July 16th!

Fun times ahead!


Dragonfly said...

Sounds like your next couple of months will be very busy with concerts, travelling, and um...MOVING! You'll have to let us know if you've sold...but from the sounds of this, it seems pretty good. Good luck.

The Tudor Rose said...

Best of luck on your house-hunting trip today. If you end up in the section of SP where all the street names begin with "M", that's where my parents live! You'd be, like, neighbours! :-)

I haven't had as much fun in a choir since I was at St. George's in Kingston (wow... nearly 20 years ago now... oh god!) with Dr. Sirett (still can't think of him as Mark!) - so getting to sing one of his pieces was icing on the cake to a great season. And yay for not going horribly flat in the Bruckner!

Like I said last night, it's been a slice. And as several others have mentioned, that was due in large part to the rapport you had with the choir this year. There's a part of me that hopes I'll still be around next year, but I know that if I do end up moving to ON you'll have some great suggestions for me...

So yeah, I guess this all sums up as thanks for a great season! It's been a pleasure getting to know you better than just "that guy who taught Music 101". :)