American composer Laurie Conrad's Journal entries January 30-February 5, 2005. CDs of her "Early Songs" and "Visions for Flute & Harp" are now available.
Sunday January 30
Woke today & immediately went to the CNN website for news of the Iraqi elections. A photo of a man & woman with a small child between them, walking to the polls, a U.S. tank in the distance. The woman was dressed in black, & the child was wearing a bright red dress - she was holding her parents' hands and the father was turned towards the mother, smiling. I cried.
Finished proof-reading the Elegie score. Bob & I plan to put the corrections in tonight. In the upper right hand corner of page one of this printed score it says: corrected version, March 5, 2004. Unfortunately, I already sent this version of the score across the globe, thinking all the corrections were in. Which means I must now send this finally final version out again.
Elegie will be on the March 13th concert, so the players also need a new copy.
Had dinner with Bob & then we did the Elegie corrections, printed up the finished score & parts. At dinner, I asked him questions about his instruments. I thought the octet instruments were taken from the same design as his teacher’s, but he explained that he had changed her designs to create these instruments. He also said that he had spent many hours studying the geometries of the instruments made by the old masters & had learned much. He also mentioned that Stradavari’s work had more or less died with him - his two sons had continued his work, but after their death the workshop was closed & all their secrets lost.
Bob approaches his instrument building with the same dedication & intensity I have towards the piano & composition. Basically, we both work ourselves to death. I told him that without his work, & that of all the gifted instrument builders throughout history - there would be no music, no musicians. He denied it, but seemed cheered none-the-less. I told him that we were beacons, (I said this, because we were driving at night to his house in the country & it was very, very dark save for the moon) in spite of the fact that classical music is almost non-existent in many countries, including our own.
A man alone in his workshop in the country, surrounded by woods, studying diagrams on the wall, on his workbench, creating instruments of a sound & richness the world has never before heard ... & not knowing if the world even wants them. Just as I create my music, asking myself the same question ... The life of the artist.
Thursday, February 3
3:05 p.m. A grey day, reminds me of a big smudge on the sorts of pen & ink drawings I used to do as a child. Warmer, in the forties - yesterday, JF & I ventured out to do errands. So far today I have been tethered to the computer - listing the 2 CDs on various websites, checking my cdbaby.com listings, answering e-mails etc. I could have written another song or two in the time it took to figure out the new sites & then type everything in. E-mailed Diana, to upload a photo & Al to upload songs. Which they did.
I went to our Media Player today, on the computer, to choose which tracks of the Early Songs CD to put on the Artistopia website - & when I typed in my name, the CD of Visions came up, with the picture of the cover & the means to order it - from Walmart! (Walmart?) I wonder how it got there - frankly, I’m still not even sure what the Media Player really is or how it works. It’s a good thing I did not decide to become a composer of electronic music. I can’t imagine relying on my knowledge of machines in order to express musical ideas ... Although I can imagine there is a vast, untapped potential in electronic music - I can picture it, see it. Many possibilities, infinite, as in all art - well in anything we do in any area of life. Mystical.
A message from Bob, he has been working on the promo for the concert, newspapers & radio. I wrote him back, reminding him to bring a copy of the corrected quintet score to the rehearsal tonight, I don’t have a copy. Wrote Myra & said that I would finish the Images. However, last night I looked at the piano, & I felt a new piece forming itself within me - not an Image, but something else. I couldn’t see what it was. But it is there.
The feeling is similar to the Light in the Heart when I am asking for Healing for others - & it all spills out in more or less the same way, only this time into music. Sometimes the ideas for music come in a more mental, or even clairvoyant, way. But this time the ideas are collecting, or arising in the Heart, & I am experiencing them there. To try to write of these things - we humans do not really have the vocabulary. Although I am trying to develop one.
Must send off the rest of the Elegie scores.
Friday, February 4
4 p.m. The rehearsal of the quintet last night went very well I thought, especially considering the length & complexity of the score. They are all professional players, & the sound of Bob’s instruments is extraordinary. They could miss most of the notes of the piece & it would probably still sound fine. The biggest problem right now is that they don’t know where they are in the score - they’re getting lost. This will straighten itself out as they get to know the piece - which is one reason I want to record it. So that future musicians won’t face the same problem.
I have almost no changes to make in the score. After hearing the piece, I want to double the soprano violin briefly in octaves in one or two spots - that is all.
During the rehearsal, there were many things I wanted to say about dynamics and phrasings, voicing etc. - but it is too soon. Even in future rehearsals, I will need to distill my suggestions down to only a few comments. It was the same when I was teaching. As the composer, or as a teacher, it is important not to say so many things that the piece becomes your property instead of the player’s. They must come to the solutions on their own, whenever possible. Their relationship with my piece must remain primary, or they will not play it well. So it is a delicate thing, what to say & when.
Saturday, February 5
Windgarth. Shoveled more snow & then walked to the edge of the dock. No wind today, the water clear & still; sunny & warm, in the high forties. The only sounds were the dripping of ice melting off the docks & a few geese - & some birds on shore happily chirping as though it were already spring. The docks had their usual winter "skirts" of ice, partly melted, but still flaring out at the bottom - even the martins’ houses perched on their poles beyond our dock had small ones ... The water very blue, reflecting the sky. Took a short walk with M., to the Point, the mountains gentle today as the lake opened up to the horizon.
7 p.m. Back in town. An e-mail from a radio station in Serbia & Montenegro. They found my music on the internet & ask me to send them my CDs. He wrote: "Milosevic’s regime forbade our radio because we have been fighting for democracy since we have started our broadcasting. There are no legal records in our country and we are a poor country, so it’s very expensive for us to buy records from abroad." He ended with "Can you send me one or more CDs as a gift for our radio? Anyway, thank you for the beautiful music." I wrote him back & said that I would be happy to send the CDs (although I must admit that first I checked their website, to make sure they truly existed). Then I wrote my friend Sergey in the Ukraine, & asked him if he would give my CDs to a radio station in his country. He wrote back that there were no classical radio stations in the Ukraine. (!!!) M. said there were no classical stations in S. Africa either.
Strad magazine wrote to say they would send us a copy of their magazine article. A few websites asked for stories from The Spiritual Life of Animals & Plants. Another reviewer & two more radio stations want demo CDs. Diana hit a snag with Realms of Light, so it will take a few days longer to finish the layout. Millie came by & brought us dinner. Wrote Bob: " Next time can we have dinner somewhere that doesn’t serve french fries? I can’t resist them. I think they will play the piece very well (the players, not the fries)". He wrote back: "I was getting into imagining what the audience would think at the sight of five french fries playing a concert. You’ve got to admit that would certainly be an event worth ten dollars!"
Tonight I will send out some e-mails, announcing the concert.
Site: Figaro Records