Written by author & musician Laurie Conrad.
AComposer’s Journal: Entries April 28 - May 2, 2005
Thursday, April 28
A message from Rea: she has given musicians the two CDs, including several professional groups in New York City. She asked if I had followed up & I wrote back that I had lost all the information.
Someone from Cornell called about a concert on July 17th, would I give them some of my music to perform & M. finally said: will you please CALL THEM BACK. Meanwhile, I have not yet gotten the grant application in the mail, nor even completed the forms. Nor written a note. Mainly I am in pain from my wrenched or cracked ribs. The new rose arch arrived in a very big & heavy carton that I could not lift, & is now in the kitchen near the front door.
The latest poll results on Buzzle.com say that half the readers are printing up all the entries, half are reading them all as they go. Impressive.
Saturday, April 30
Spent more hours on the computer again today, looking for possible grants. Found less than a handful, after weeks of searching. Half of those, I have already missed this year’s deadline. One I have received in the past is now international, most are, even if based in the U.S.. The one grant I already knew about & one song writing contest are the only ones now available. The song contest has a high entrance fee & they are both due this month & involve much paperwork. Now to get the forms completed in time, plus all the other materials they ask for ...
Meanwhile, Bob & I sit here in Ithaca, trying to somehow scrounge up a few thousand dollars so that he can hear his newly made instruments & I can hear my new cycle for his string octet & choir. My thoughts wander to J.S. Bach. He & his many children supported & fed, a man with unlimited access to musicians he did not have to pay for; then Haydn & his patron, Esterhazy. But then I remember Mozart, who went door to door selling tickets for his concerts & I again find solace. I found no grants or competitions for this new cycle with choir, although I will keep looking.
Sunday, May 1
Rain alternating with sun this afternoon, & the daffodils & tulips & other spring bulbs now make many colorful paths to the lake. Some of the chive & French savory are already big & full enough to eat - the lavender spring phlox is starting to bloom here & there throughout the gardens. I went through the gardens & counted the colombine, still only leaves & stalk but they will bloom later in the spring. Deep purple violets clumped under the fir. Many sorts & sizes of daffodils are in bloom now - small pure white to the huge yellow Fortissimo with their deep orange trumpets - creams & yellows & oranges standing bravely in the wind, rocking back & forth - or resting quietly in the lulls. Various small purple hyacinths & blue Russian squill are beginning to weave carpets under the trees & across the lawns. Drew garden maps for the fall plantings & put the onion sets & lettuce in. Deb & M. put the wooden benches out & brought the picnic table & canoe down from their winter hibernation in the garage. I finally stopped my outdoor work from the pain, & hope I haven’t reinjured anything.
Shaun called this morning, just before we left town. His mother’s new relationship has already fallen apart, & they are returning to Ithaca by this weekend. They are looking for an apartment in Fall Creek, did we know of any. We said that we would check. Hopefully, now our lives will get back to normal. Both Clarissa & Sergei have been watching for Shaun from the back porch for weeks. I must admit that I have missed Shaun & Chester (the cat) very much this past week myself. Every time I go to the back door, all four cats look to see if Chester is there, waiting to come in for a meal or snack.
The sun is out now, running along the hills across the lake as the clouds change position, prodded by the changing winds. Hundreds of bulbs waiting to be planted are in boxes by my feet, & the remaining onion sets & broccoli are in a cardboard flat perched across the carton of lily bulbs. I dare not dig more in the gardens today, so I try to think of other things. But the onion sets are about 7 inches tall & very bushy & disheveled & appealing - I am tempted to run my hand through them & then put them in the ground, plant them ...
Monday, May 2
The Cornell person e-mailed me today & offered me a nice sum of money to give their group a piece they can premiere on their July 17th concert. From what I can tell, they are a Cornell music faculty ensemble devoted to playing contemporary music. At least some of their members are Cornell & Wells College faculty. One is a viola da gamba player. The viola player is very busy, and they asked if I really need her. I will write back and say "yes". What a nice piece of luck! They will pay the musicians as well. They also want a piece for flute, I think I will offer them Elegie, with piano accompaniment. I had never heard of this group until a week or so ago. I think I will revise a piece that I wrote some years ago, for piano & strings. I have never heard it, I could never find the needed string players or the money to pay them ... I will be playing piano on the concert, which also makes me very happy. Maybe I should think about Bach & Haydn more often, they seem to have brought me instant good news. If one believes in astrology, I was once told that Bach, Haydn, Mozart & I had our Jupiter on the exact same degree of the Zodiac (out of 360 degrees). The Sabian symbol for that degree is "the magic carpet". When things get too difficult here on earth - those three old masters & I apparently look to our musical magic carpet & float above the problems of earth. And hopefully take others with us. I can’t speak for Bach, Haydn & Mozart - but that certainly seems true of me.
Called Shaun’s old landlord to see if he would take them back as tenants. He left a message on our machine, he would consider it. "Their escapade", as he termed it, did cost him six weeks loss of rental income. Undoubtedly, he will raise their rent, but it would be a small price to pay after what they have been through.
Found the score. It was buried in a very large stack of scores in the living room, leaning up against the large oil painting M. brought back from South Africa. The piece is scored for piano & string quartet - violin, two violas & one cello. I will have to rescore it for their instrumentation. Violin, viola, viola da gamba & cello. Now to find out the range & clef of the viola da gamba & other viols at my disposal. I also might add string bass, they have one. As I flipped through the score, many notes & lines & ideas were appearing in my head & on the score, I finally grabbed a pencil & started writing a few down. My excitement was somewhat dampened, however, when I realized I might not be able to play piano for another month because of my ribs. I will call the doctor tomorrow and ask. The people who contacted me need the neatly copied out, completed score by June 1. Which is just a month away. In spite of my ribs, I will begin working tomorrow, at least thinking more about changes I might make to the score. Now that I actually have players I might expand it a bit, even add some solo sections for the quartet (or quintet if I add the bass) of strings. We’ll see. It was written in 1996, nine and a half years ago, & originally was a solo piano piece. I added the strings later. It is titled Unsung Song No. 1 & is dedicated to Louise McConnell, my singer; I wrote it not long after her premature death from cancer. There are two more Unsung Songs in the Cycle, although one has an optional baritone voice part. I once did perform it with a singer, a private concert at my house. I swore that I would never write another song for female voice. Or if I did, they would not be performed in my lifetime. None-the-less I did write a song cycle for baritone & mezzo voices a few years ago, that have not yet been performed, but might be at some point in the future. Maybe. We’ll see.
Tomorrow I will telephone Carolyn & tell her the news. This piece was dedicated to her mother & it will be the premiere. I should also call or write Jude, Louise’s sister. I think she said the dance performance of songs from the Early Song CD that she has been choreographing is also in July. Hopefully not July 17th, or I will have to practice my bilocation skills.
Tuesday, May 3
Called Jude & left a message on her machine. She called me back: her dance concert will not be until August or later. Told Carolyn. Victor, the viola da gamba player e-mailed me back today: he plays bass viola da gamba, which has seven strings & quite a large range. He can play the second viola part, & he reads either bass or alto clef. He also named the strings for me, so that I know where the open strings are. This will help me write for his instrument, especially in determining what double stops he is capable of playing. Very exciting indeed ...
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"A Composer's Journal Entries April 28 - May 5, 2002"