Tuesday, August 27, 2013

News from Neely

Of course when I announced I would be blogging three or four times a week, because I had hit my stride, I entered a complete creative fit. Said fit, which involves finishing my orchestra piece Antiphonies for Charlie (more about that very soon), and my duties as the current chair of the Music Department at Wesleyan, plus getting ready to conduct Henry Brant’s Flight Over a Global Map — all of these things conspire to put a damper on my blogging. However, I should write something, if for not other reason than my Blogger account was evidently hacked (one hopes by mistake) and I had to reset my password!

There is no end of stuff to write about, of course. But I have just read an article entitled “America’s orchestras are in crisis” by Philip Kennicott, in the New Republic, August 25, 2013. Here’s what I just wrote on Facebook:

“As usual, this latest jeremiad about the crisis of the orchestra (or the opera house or chamber music, etc.) is all about the symptoms and says nothing about the cause. When what I'll call ‘serious music’ was taken out of the curriculum of most public schools in the 1950s the stage was set for one crisis or another. Imagine the state of mathematics if our schools took math out of the curriculum, or made it an after-school elective! We would be desperately trying all sorts of stopgaps to 'interest the young,' 'interest the person on the street,' 'make math fun,' etc. And of course all of this would fail, because the real problem is — we have created, systematically, over the last 60 years, a less-educated public. And anyone who doubts that we have a less-educated public isn't paying attention.

There! I’ve gotten that off my chest. Back to work on Antiphonies for Charlie.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Two Friendly Fugues

The Complete Piano Music of Neely Bruce: THIS IS IT!
The first of twelve recitals will take place on Sunday 29 September, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. in Crowell Concert Hall, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut

In the fall of 2006 I programmed two of my Friendly Fugues on a recital I played on the beautiful August Foerster piano in the Wesleyan Chapel. These fugues were written in honor of Katchen Coley (a local conservation leader) and Billy Weitzer (at that time a member of the Wesleyan administration.) On September 20, 2006, I wrote in this blog as follows:

For the past two and a half years I have been composing a series of “Friendly Fugues,” based on the names of some of my friends. Some of them, including the first one, have been composed at the request of the person whose name becomes the subject (see below). Katchen Coley approached me at a Christmas party in 2003 and asked, “Neely, will you write a piece for my eightieth birthday?” Of course I agreed, and this piece was the result. I turned her name into a fugue subject by writing down the letters of the alphabet in seven columns, thus:

            a     b     c    d     e     f     g
            h     i      j     k     l     m    n
            o     p     q     r     s     t     u
            v     w    x     y     z

then I mapped any letters in the various columns—below the first row—onto the letters in the first row, i.e. the letters of the musical alphabet. (For example, the letter R, which is not used in musical nomenclature, becomes the note D.) In this process I also allow the German alphabetic equivalents of certain letters, so B can be B flat, H can be B natural, and S can be E flat (my choice). Incidentally, I didn’t invent this method of transforming words into notes, and there are other ways of doing it.

Katchen’s name becomes “D A F C B E G C A E E D,” with an appropriate rhythm of course, and Billy Weitzer (a member of the Wesleyan administration who has been quite supportive of the Music Department and helped us purchase the August Förster) turns out to be “Bb B E E D B E B F E E D,” something of a challenge as a fugue subject because of the repeated cell (EED EED), but challenges are what makes composition fun.

Other Friendly Fugues were written as birthday presents (Eric Gordon, Clem W. Hitchcock, Lara Hoggard, Louise Faircloth, a fugue for piano four-hands for Bitsy Clark) or surprises (Blake Reynolds, Janet Gross) or just to demonstrate how I make fugue subjects out of names (Peter Alan Hoyt, Henry Dreyfus Brant—though Henry’s fugue is only begun, since he insists I write it for brass ensemble and not piano).

BACK TO THE PRESENT: At this point there are 22 of these friendly fugues. Two more fugues, composed in the same manner, are part of the partitas in memory of Virginia Ellen and Wilhelm Gertz. There are 19 others, in various states of completion.

The fugues I have chosen to play in this first concert are the two most recent ones. Sophia Rosoff has been my piano teacher since 1998. This fugue was written as a birthday present, earlier this year. Sophia was born on January 27 — as she likes to say, she was born between Virginia Wolfe and Mozart.

Urip Sri Maeny is the wife of my colleague Sumarsam. She taught Indonesian dance at Wesleyan for decades and retired this spring. This fugue is a present on the occasion of her retirement. It is also a surprise! Maeny and Sumarsam are in Indonesia visiting friends and family. Just before I posted this blog I sent them an Email telling them of the existence of this little piece of music (PDF attached).

Sunday, August 11, 2013

More thoughts on the Ives songs

I am writing this blog in the sky. I am on a small plane bound for Nashville, where I will meet my daughter Meriwether Brown and her family and spend the night. Tomorrow we will begin an adventure. We will journey to Wisconsin by car and see whooping cranes. That will be the subject of another blog or two, I’m sure. But for now I want to return to the subject of the Ives songs, albeit briefly.

Sometimes I think I am foolish to continue to record these songs. As of now, we have about 50 of them in the can, about 35 of which are edited. Counting all of the alternate versions, Ives wrote a total of 201 pieces for solo voice. At this rate I figure it will take fourteen years to complete the project. Since it is unlikely that any of us involved have fourteen years to devote to this, even intermittently, and I am committed to doing it, the only alternative is to speed up. To do that in a significant way would require the time and money to isolate ourselves for an agreed-upon period of time and simply do it. While I ponder this, let me say a few more things about this music.

Peter Dickinson said, back in 2009 at the Ives Vocal Marathon, that he didn’t really enjoy hearing all of the unknown early songs of Ives. (They are published as Forty Early Songs, edited by John Kirkpatrick and James Sinclair.) He was familiar with them, of course. He found too many of them trivial or boring or both. Peter felt that Ives himself had already gone through the material, picked the best of the lot, spiffed them up and included them in 114 Songs. He has a point. Some of these pieces drive me crazy, actually.

But most of the early, non-114 songs are quirky and interesting — even lovely. At least that’s the way I hear them. A case in point is “In Autumn,” which David and I recorded on Thursday. This song is not to be confused with “Autumn,” which most who know it would agree is an uncontested masterpiece. To begin with, literally, “In Autumn” has an odd introduction. Kirkpatrick/Sinclair suggest that the first verse be introduced the same way the second verse is, with a pretty routine four-measure phrase. But Ives actually wrote a truncated version. Who knows if it was shorthand for the complete phrase, but K/S (who are very good about truth in packaging) clearly indicate, with smaller notes, that the first two measures or so are an editorial suggestion. The brief, asymmetrical introduction (what Ives wrote and what I play) throws the whole thing delightfully off-kilter.

The first verse is a stereotypical sentiment, stereotypically expressed:

The skies seemed true above thee,
   The rose true on the tree,
The bird seemed true the summer through
   But all proved false to me.

But the second line of the second verse ends with a clunk, revealing that the song is almost a joke:

World, is there one good thing in you,
   Life, love, or death, or what?
Since lips that sang “I love thee”
   Now say “I love thee not.”

In retrospect the three “true”s in the first verse are a tipoff that we shouldn’t take this young man’s plight too seriously. If, when it’s over, it’s not entirely a joke — after all, he has been jilted — at least one can chuckle a bit and walks away with a smile.

Ives is the master of this kind of gentle irony. It’s almost as if “In Autumn” were a study for “In the Alley.” Needless to say, the music underlines the gentle irony of the text from start to finish, once one is clued in. Who wrote this text, pray tell? K/S say “author unknown,” but I suspect it was Ives himself. And there is no doubt that he wrote “In the Alley,” a far greater song, if greatness is what counts with this material.

Concerning other songs — David and I have produced what is surely the most successful recording to date of “Naught that country needeth,” a problematical song if there ever was one. After almost ten years of fooling with the thing we have it flowing along, reaching a viable climax, and generally making sense of what might appear to be a rambling mess. Beth and I have done “Grantchester” better than we’ve ever heard it done (if we do say so ourselves). Flush with enthusiasm, we exclaimed, almost at the same time, “We have to do this again!” And if someone gives $50,000 (more or less) we can do just that!

CODA: Rereading these comments, I realize that many of my readers may not be familiar with the Ives songs, or the Ives Vocal Marathon, and in any case this doesn’t have much to do with my piano music — except that the way I write for the piano can be heavily influenced by Ives, but that’s a topic for another day. If you are reading this blog and are curious about my involvement with the Ives songs, I suggest you check out the website of the Ives Vocal Marathon:

This was a five-year project that culminated in a complete, contiguous performance of all 201 Ives songs in three days. The four principal singers were Johana Arnold, Elizabeth Saunders, Gary Harger and David Barron. The entire series can be heard on iTunesU. We decided to go in the studio and record the whole shooting match — but it’s taking a long time!

CODA SECUNDA: I’m actually posting this a day late. (Internet access problems.) So the aforementioned adventure with the Brown family has begun. I write most of this in the air, but I am posting it on the ground in Wisconsin.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Some singing, some accompanying

Today I'm in Brooklyn recording Ives songs with David Barron. We had a very good session — "In Autumn," "The World's Wanderers," "On the Counter," "Romanzo di Central Park," "Feldeinsamkeit," and "Naught that country needed" are in the can. Tomorrow Elizabeth Saunders joins us. I'll let you know what she does after it happens.

David and I were able to do a few edits as well. "Ann Street," "Like a sick eagle" and "In April-tide" turned out to be single take wonders. We had some alternates to choose from, but decided that these three were fine just like they were. "I knew and loved a maid" had to be put together from three takes, and we were only able to start the editing of "Naught..."

Practicing and recording Ives songs is a nice break from all that Neely Bruce music. Speaking of songs, I had a wonderful rehearsal yesterday on my John Finlay settings with Christopher Grundy. He has started to learn Whitman Fragments, and we started working on that too. 

Back to piano music shortly...

Monday, August 5, 2013

Forty Times Forty

The Complete Piano Music of Neely Bruce: THIS IS IT!
The first of twelve recitals will take place on Sunday 29 September, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. in Crowell Concert Hall, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut

 (A brief note about blogging frequency — it is clear to me that I’m not going to be able to post on this blog every day. Not that I’ve ever been able to do that. But a pattern is emerging. I think I will be able to post three or four times a week, on a regular basis. Just in case you’re wondering…)

“Forty Times Forty” is a birthday present for Jacky Miles. Jacky is the wife of Bill Brooks, my closest friend from graduate school. I was best man when he and Jacky got married. Phyllis and I were invited to contribute something to an elaborate book that Bill assembled on the occasion of one of Jacky’s birthdays that ends in a zero. Phyllis’s contribution was an elaborate verbal fantasy on the word “forty,” a single page of text surrounded by a border made up of the word “forty” repeated over and over as it threaded its way around the edge of the paper. My contribution was this piece.

“Forty Times Forty” is a title that says it all. Forty one-beat licks, each played forty times. Ten measures of four-four time, forty ten-measure units. What you see is what you get. The reaction to this piece always brings me some amusement. Some people are very dismissive of it, others like it very much. I recently played it for a young Dutch couple I met. He couldn’t find little enough to say about it, and was almost intent upon changing the subject. She, on the other hand, liked it. When I played it in Birmingham in 2004 the reviewer singled it out as the best piece on the program. And when I played it last semester for the students in my twentieth century compositional techniques class they really got into it.

I think the people who like this piece react to it by counting the licks. Even if I don’t explain what I’m going to do, they catch on and begin to count sooner or later. It takes between nine and ten minutes to play, so sooner or later the pattern becomes irresistible, at least to those who get into it. For the performer, it is strenuous and virtuosic — an endurance contest that becomes more and more flashy and more and more dangerous.

My goal in compositing the various one-beat licks was to make memorable, brief gestures of maximum variety. The reader of this blog, and others who are familiar with my music, may have noticed that I am shameless about saying where I get my ideas. So it will surprise no one that some of these licks sound like Stravinsky, some like Chopin, some like all that motoric stuff by Prokofiev, some like Mozart, etc. There is even a lick modeled on the repeated chords at the end of “The Banjo” by Gottschalk.

For the most part this piece speaks for itself. There are some surprises, and I don’t want to go into any more details. But in preparing this piece, as in preparing this entire series, there is a general problem that rears its ugly head. I’m a composer in my late sixties, relearning a lifetime’s worth of work. The urge to edit, tweak or even revise, or (God forbid) rewrite can be irresistible.

As a matter of principle I believe that “What I have written, I have written,” as Pontius Pilate would say. So even if I have learned something about compositing in the fifty years I’ve been doing it, I refuse to second-guess my youthful self. No Hindemith am I — rewriting and revising are out. But tweaking is another matter, and editing is essential. In relearning all this stuff, and making final copies of much of it in FINALE, I found outright mistakes that had to be corrected.

But when one is practicing one gets ideas. A really good one turns out to be placing four specific pitches in the sostenuto pedal at the beginning of this piece. (They have to drop out on the second page.) These pitches, vibrating sympathetically, reinforce the opening licks in a very pleasing way. I didn’t think of that in 1995, but I sure thought of it in July of 2013. I decided to do it. This is certainly not an edit. But is it just a tweak or is it really a rewrite? It’s a conception that is far from my concerns when I wrote the piece in the first place. So I can call this a tweak, but to an outside observer it’s probably a rewrite. Tweak or rewrite? Truth or rationalization? You decide. (In the immortal words of Walt Whitman, “Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself.”)

Finally, a word about minimalism. This is not my only minimalist piece, but minimalism is a relatively small percentage of my output. (More on this topic when I talk about my Esercizi two years or so down the pike.) But I like the idea, I like the aesthetic, and I’d like to express my unreserved admiration for certain minimalist pieces. These include virtually the entire output of Tom Johnson; certain works of Alvin Lucier, especially “I am sitting in a room” and “Music on a Long, Thin Wire”; the haunting Time Curve Preludes of Bill Duckworth (OK, that’s postminimalism,, but let’s not quibble). And above all “Music for Eighteen Musicians” and “Drumming” by Steve Reich. Phyllis and I had our first date when “Drumming” was performed at Wesleyan in the late 1970s. After the concert we went to the old Lake Beseck Café in Middlefield and danced well into the night.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Tuckaway in Early Summer: Part Two


The Complete Piano Music of Neely Bruce: THIS IS IT!
The first of twelve recitals will take place on Sunday 29 September, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. in Crowell Concert Hall, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut

In yesterday’s blog I gave some background about descriptive piano music and briefly discussed the method of this, my only descriptive piece (its structure, mode of sketching, producing the finished product). Today I’ll talk about the component parts of the piece and what I do with them, some of the nitty-gritty, so to speak.

First, a general outline. (To follow this, I suggest that you reread the indented paragraphs in yesterday’s blog.)

The piece begins with some generic walking-around music, followed by musical descriptions of the three smaller buildings — the woodshed, the playhouse and the workshop/boathouse. One then comes across the low-lying stone wall, and follows it to the edge of the property. Turning around, one has an excellent view of the grand house and notices the wind for the first time. Some more walking-around music gets us inside the house, where people are indeed  “singing songs of another time.” The wind outside the house kicks up and begins to howl, even, but one can still hear the singing, modulated by the gale. The wind subsides. Presumably folks go to sleep.

The first point to make is that none of this is specified in the score. The great master of the descriptive piano piece is of course Erik Satie. Satie’s pieces describe imaginary places, things and events, rather than concrete ones like Tuckaway, its various buildings, and singing around the piano. Satie also forbad the reading of his descriptions while the pieces are played — so the pianist is free to imagine a nightingale with a toothache, but the audience cannot share the conceit. I’ve gone one step further than my beloved ES. Aside from my aforementioned note, which I have modestly placed at the end of the score, there are no clues about what is actually being portrayed in this composition. What you’re getting here is insider information.

1) General, walking-around music. Notice I do not say “promenade,” though obviously I had in mind an outdoor version of Pictures at an Exhibition. I’ve gone to some lengths to make my walking-around music totally unlike that of Mussorgsky, although he was hanging around in the back of my mind the entire time I was writing the piece. His promenade is very purposeful, full of rhythm and destination. My walking-around music is a casual, undirected stroll, NB being a flaneur for a few minutes.

2) The three smaller buildings. Each has its own character — repetitive, playful, or expansive. The sketches for these buildings are only a few measures, but they were indeed made on location, while I stood right in front of each of them and listened spontaneously to my inner compositional voice. When it came time to write out the whole piece, the woodshed and the playhouse are quickly taken care of. The development of the workshop/boathouse took some doing.

3) The wall. The music for the beautiful old stone wall, which I imagine slowly crawling toward the sea, needed to begin in a low register and end at the top of the keyboard. In real life, this wall, if faced so that the great house is behind you, runs from left to right as it approaches Long Island Sound. Based on my slender melodic sketch (a single voice) I devised a three-part canon that slowly inches its way up and up. I am very proud of this part of the piece. It’s a very successful marriage of the descriptive (and emotional) effect of the wall itself and the technique used to paint the wall in music. It’s also a foreshadowing, in 2008, of the unexpected ways in which counterpoint has taken over my musical imagination in recent years. (This recital has three fugues in it. If someone told me ten years ago that I would write something like twenty-six fugues, and many other contrapuntal pieces, over the next decade, I would have laughed incredulously.)

4) The great house, suitable for entertaining. The great house is represented by crashing chords, a stentorian bit of quasi-recitative, and some noisy development of some of the earlier material associated with the smaller buildings. The wind quickly asserts itself. One is glad to be inside.

5) The wind. The arpeggios that constitute this bit of wind music are derived from the arpeggios that waft around the woodshed (remember the woodshed?). I find that as I practice the wind music I want to play it in in a more and more exaggerated manner. Ideally I can make it whoosh and howl around the house, making everyone glad to be inside.

6) The song of another time. When I was writing this piece I was also practicing the Waldszenen of Schumann (opus 82, also known as Waldescenen and other spellings.) I decided I spent too much time practicing hard music, and I should learn some easier pieces. I had learned “The Prophet Bird” in my youth (that’s the only piece from the set that anyone plays these days) and liked it a lot. I took one look at the entire opus and was hooked. — a very imaginative, original and somewhat dark collection that seemed to have my name written on it. For various reasons I have not played Waldszenen in public, but I still practice it from time to time, for my own pleasure. The tune in Eb that floats in towards the end of “Tuckaway” is consciously modeled on the sixth movement, “Wayside Inn.” Looking at “Wayside Inn” today, I’m surprised at just how similar the tunes are. Mine is somewhat slower, and takes a deliberately grandiose and sentimental turn (in the manner of Percy Grainger's "Colonial Song"), but the shape of the two tunes is quite close.

7)  How all this ends. The wind swells and takes over. I imagined a movie camera looking in at the window, pulling back gradually so that one sees and hears more and more of the weather and less and less of the party inside. Eventually everything quiets down. Inside the cozy house everyone goes to bed, with little Ivesian touches as they settle down.

Having written “Tuckaway in Early Summer” I have no desire to write another descriptive piece. That being said, I’m very happy to have written this one.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Tuckaway in Early Summer: Part One

The Complete Piano Music of Neely Bruce: THIS IS IT!
The first of twelve recitals will take place on Sunday 29 September, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. in Crowell Concert Hall, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut

As I mentioned before, the first program in this series of recitals will begin with some of my most recent compositions for the piano and conclude with pieces written much earlier. (See the blog of July 30th for the list.) The one exception is “Forty Times Forty,” written in 1995. I’ll discuss that in due course. Today I’m going to write about the first piece on the program, “Tuckaway in Early Summer.”

For many years I was active as a performer at the Florence Griswold Museum, one of our state’s most beautiful small museums. Located on the shores of the Lieutenant River, only a stone’s throw from Interstate 95 (though you would never know it, so cleverly is the noisy highway masked by trees and water), the FGM is devoted to American art, particularly American impressionism. Before it was a museum it was the home of Florence Griswold, heiress, spinster, and patron of the arts. It became an artists colony, frequented by painters of all backgrounds and levels of reputation, including the great Childe Hassam.

As part of a silent auction in 2007, to benefit the museum, I agreed to write a piece for whoever made the high bid. The couple who did this wanted me to compose something inspired by their vacation property, named Tuckaway. In the fall of 2007 I made a visit to the site, manuscript paper in hand. I revisited the property in the spring of 2008, to make more on-site sketches. I composed the piece at my home, and played it informally at Tuckaway in June of the same year.

The official premiere of the piece took place at the FGM on Wednesday 23 July, 2008. It opened a concert called Piano as Palette,  a tribute to American impressionist composers, performed in conjunction with a major exhibit of paintings by American impressionists. The museum has a very fine piano, which was moved into the largest of the galleries. The music, presented in the middle of so many gorgeous paintings, made a wonderful effect.

After “Tuckaway” I played the Roman Sketches of Charles Griffes, “Impressions of the Wa-Wan Ceremony of the Omahas” by Arthur Farwell, and a virtuoso piece by Farwell entitled “Flame-Voiced Night,” inspired by a poem of Tagore. After intermission I performed lighter fare by Zez Confrey and Bix Beiderbecke. The evening closed with Phyllis singing Gitanjili by John Alden Carpenter—six of the finest Tagore settings you will ever hear.  (Phyllis loved this cycle and sang it beautifully. More on this subject in a later blog.) Here’s what I wrote in the program notes, which includes what I wrote in the score:

“’Tuckaway in Early Summer’ is my most recent piano piece. Its method of composition directly parallels that of many of the American impressionist painters working in Giverny. The listener will clearly hear the influence of Debussy, the master of musical impressionism, as well as other early twentieth century composers (including Ives). As I say in the score:

“This composition is inspired by property (buildings and grounds) atop a hill on Black Point, near Niantic, Connecticut. There are three smaller buildings (a woodshed, a playhouse and a workshop/boathouse) and a grand house suitable for entertaining. A magnificent stone wall crawls in the direction of the water. The wind is almost constant. One imagines people gathered around the piano, singing songs of another time. One is always aware of the weather.

“All of the musical ideas used in this work were scribbled on location, then made into a piece at my home studio, much as a visual artist might sketch en plein air and paint in his or her atelier.”

“Tuckaway in Early Summer” is my only descriptive piano piece. I have loved the genre of descriptive piano music, déclassé as it is, ever since I discovered it as a teenager—quite serendipitously. In a small volume of Elizabethan works for the virginals (selections from My Ladye Nevells Booke), I found “The Battell” by William Byrd. When I became so fascinated by American parlor music in graduate school, I discovered lots of other descriptive stuff. Although I never played the Byrd battle piece in public I made up for it by recording “The Battle of Marengo” by Bernard Viguerie, and playing many. many performances over the years of “The Battle of Trenton” by James Hewitt. There are lots and lots of other action-packed descriptive pieces in the American repertory — “Ben Hur’s Chariot Race” by E. T. Paull, for example, or “The Great Crush Collision March” of Scott Joplin.

“Tuckaway” is a description of a landscape, rather than an action, and it has a very different feel from the aforementioned battles, or even something like “A Day at Berkeley Springs” — a description of a famous resort hotel in West Virginia, composed in 1851 by Erneste Szemelnyi. (Now there’s an obscure piece! It’s wonderful, BTW.) Today’s comments are by way of introduction. Tomorrow I’ll talk about the music itself.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Brief autobiographical note

I’ve been traveling — to NYC for a lesson with Sophia Rosoff; to Brooklyn to rehearse Ives songs with David Barron; to the Fischer Center to see the current production of Oresteia; and to suburban Red Hook to visit Kyle and Nancy Gann. (That's the upstate Red Hook, not the neighborhood in Brooklyn.) Drove back to Middletown to play part of my September recital for Sarah (Starnes) Simonitis (Wesleyan '99), her husband Ken, and their two-year old son David. (A second Simonitis child will arrive in about two months.) Came home, took a nap, and started attending to all the Emails I hadn’t kept up with while driving around NY and CT, visiting, rehearsing, etc.

For Sarah, Ken and David I played “Tuckaway in Early Summer,” the two new fugues for Sophia and Maeny, the first three moments of A Partita for Wilhelm Gertz, and “Seven Variations on ‘Suzy, Little Suzy.’” David was very well-behaved, but it was clearly going to be a problem if my preview recital went on much longer. (I didn’t take it personally. Any toddler would have had a similar reaction to an all-Neely Bruce piano recital, I’m sure.) Lunch at O’Rourke’s was excellent, as always.

I am going to resist the temptation to write about Oresteia by Sergey Taneyev, except to say that I really liked it, it’s a fine piece, and that Bard and the Fischer Center are to be congratulated for putting it before the public. The singers were uniformly good, and occasionally better than that. The best thing in the vocal department was the chorus! They sang the best and had the best music. Thrilling actually. Kudos to chorus director James Bagwell and his splendid crew.

Tomorrow morning I start writing about individual piano pieces. I promise.

Addendum: Christopher Grundy went with me to my lesson with Sophia and sand the "Five Songs on Poems of John Finlay" for her. He sings those pieces so well! Come to the September 29th recital and you'll see what I mean.