A Composer's Journal: February 25-March 25, 2006 by classical composer Laurie Conrad.
A Composer’s Journal Entries: February 25 - March 25, 2006
Saturday, February 25
Received a check from Bob Spear in the mail, for a thousand dollars. On the memo line was written "for Quintet II. recording". A note was enclosed, saying that he would e-mail me. I can’t accept money from Bob - I’ll frame the check. And wait to hear from him.
Checked over the yearly entry for Who’s Who in America that came in the mail - and they had listed String Quintet I and String Quintet II. Except I never wrote a string Quintet I.; so I crossed it out and mailed it back to them. I let Spear name the piece I wrote for his new instruments, and he chose Quintet II. They’ll probably leave the listing the way it is, & I did not explain.
Wednesday, March 1
The players have agreed to record without additional payment. So I can frame Bob’s check. They will set up a rehearsal schedule, sometime in late May. Now to decide where to record.
Friday, March 3
An e-mail from Carrie. The recording will have to wait until this fall. The players are so busy, they cannot find time when they can all rehearse until then. That’s when the Cornell concert is, for the Piano Quintet I am revising. I had better start practicing the piano part. Hopefully, we can record them both on the same day.
Wednesday, March 8
Last night & today, filling in voice parts & inner lines on the original page 3 of the sketch of Movement II. I find that I can only work for short periods of time, & then must reflect. The decision now: should this section be a human cry of mourning ... Or should it remain hushed, quiet - serene & resigned, resigned in Faith and trust. There are merits to both. It would depend on if we, the choir, were standing before Our Lady as we said these words. And on the depth of our Faith.
Musically, torment expressed would be more gripping, more exhilarating - at least on the surface. But: torment expressed quietly, gently, could have more power. The unexpected. More noble, more childlike & innocent, more of a supplication than an expression of pain. I could give the tension to the instruments alone, use the voices more as a counter subject or obligato. A chant. Decisions. Made myself a cup of decaf & burned myself. The world of decaf seems very, very far away while I am composing. My entire being is in the music now, in those few measures - & the sounds are continually changing, rearranging themselves endlessly & effortlessly, like the colours of the lake at Windgarth ...
The fellow came to reconnect our surround sound, he’s upstairs in the TV room, surrounded by wires. Our plights are somewhat similar. Well, not plights, but steps on the Journey.
Hopefully, later tonight I can do more composing.
Thursday, March 23
Waverly N.Y. 2:30 a.m.
M. is out of the country for two weeks. Came to Waverly for a few days, to be with Carolyn & the children. We’ve been painting rooms, so that she can sell this house. Brought the sketch of the score & a small stack of MS paper. Copied out about five or six new pages into a main score for stringed orchestra, harp & choir. When I am done, I will score it also for full orchestra & choir.
There is a small upright piano downstairs, but I mainly worked at Carolyn’s computer table upstairs. Ian was in the next room watching cartoons.
Louise is everywhere.
I hope she will sing this cycle in other realms, before I get there.
My room is similar to Carolyn’s as a child. I can almost imagine that I am back in time, with Carolyn only a few years older than Ian & Louise in the next room painting. Or practicing my songs for an upcoming concert. Carolyn & Elisabeth went out for a few hours today & left me alone with Ian. I went downstairs to use the piano, & he followed me. He watched me copy out the score, & then he went to the piano & started crashing around on the keyboard. I explained that as a composer I needed silence, so that I could hear the notes in my head. Ian said he would play very softly - & he did, slowly, one note at a time & pianissimo. For a three & a half year old boy, he is unusually thoughtful & rational. Copying out the score with cartoons playing in the next room - has been a test.
The walls of Carolyn’s room as a child was not this deep a red - it was more a mauve. That was almost thirty years ago - or yesterday.
Experimenting with forms in this score. Very few, if any, changes from the original sketch in these new pages today.
I leave tomorrow. Forgot to bring my A Composer’s Notebook, so I’ve scribbled all this on a piece of MS paper. I’ve decided not to consciously think about Movement III until Movement II is copied out & orchestrated.
I love it when Carolyn & Elisabeth laugh together.
Saturday, March 25
Ithaca 3:45 a.m.
Finished copying out the score tonight, off the sketch. Movement II is about thirty pages long. Now to fill in the harp part, Xerox the score - and then make an orchestral version with the choir. I am pleased.
Then to choose a prayer for Movement III. Movement III will be to the Holy Spirit, for Enlightenment and Healing for the earth. Musically, I have really no ideas at all. If I do not get some soon, I might revise the Piano Quintet first, before I sketch out Movement III.
Site: Figaro Recordings