Madison Saturday

The participant concert yesterday went well for us; I squeaked a little, alas, after I swore not to, but a certain pro did too. I got a recording of acceptable quality from the deal, though rather underloaded. Would that the rest of the concert went as well! It was enough to tempt me to violate libertarian principle and agitate for a license to play recorder in public. (I jest!). There were people playing who didn’t have a clue about their instrument, who shouldn’t have been playing for others. And there are people who can’t count well enough to get through a simple Pasisian chanson without getting lost (we’re talking a genre where an individual is never out for more than a measure or so at a time). The vocal things were best, though I heard lots of big juicy vibrato. No, you can’t remake somebody’s vocal technique in a week; I just found it odd that so many people who would come to this would find that acceptable. Priscilla Smith coached an alternatim psalm by Victoria, and I learned that she’s singing in a Tridentine church in NYC (St. Agnes, IIRC) and eats this stuff for breakfast (and was raised Lutheran too, just like me!). I decided that if I were to design an early music workshop, I’d have a mandatory Gregorian Chant component; it’s that fundamental to so much of this music.

All-Festival rehearsal went well. We had the drawing for 2 Super Gig Lights, and I won! I’ve needed a stand light for awhile, and had been looking at some, so this was fortunate indeed. I suppose, in the marketing spirit in which it was given to MEMF, I shall have to write a review here after I try it.

I really enjoyed hearing the Venere Lute Quartet for the first time. The program was created especially for this festival and was centered on Vincenzo Galilei (father of Galileo) as part of the astronomical theme, featuring intabulations from his 2nd Book of Madrigals. I suspect that the music was a little grown-up for some for this late in the week,and being a new program was not perhaps as well-rehearsed as it could have been. But for once I wasn’t falling asleep, maybe because listening to lutes requires effort to follow the lines. A particular treat was the premiere of portions of Kepler’s Dream, a work in progress by J. David Moore (b. 1962). They were filled with beautiful textures, in a slightly minimalism/pop-influenced style, and were very idiomatic for the instruments without being written in the idiom of the instruments; i.e., they didn’t sound at all like Renaissance lute intabulations. Ironically, given the current featured work on his webpage, the opening was punctuated by a ringing phone, and all I could think was, “I feel your pain, bro…”

Ross Duffin told me yesterday that he’d just heard from Case and Burgundy alumnus Nate Wood, who had gone to Basel to study. He’s playing all over Europe, has a new group getting off the ground, and just spent 6 weeks with Geert Jan van der Heide building a Classical bell for his bass sackbut. We can use more makers, so I hope he continues in that vein. I also heard that they’ve discovered a real 15th-c slide trumpet, and it’s not mcuh different from the conjectural reconstructions. I’ll have to find out more about that.

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