Monday, August 17, 2009

opera in the making

It is time to empty the photo-bucket, since I've been some places and done some things this week.

On Tuesday, I traveled due south into the heart of the Catskill Mountains. When I arrived, I consumed a delicious meal (in the company of two dear friends) with the most stunning backdrop of mountains and sky. I was sorry that I waited until the next morning to capture the view digitally, as it was overcast then.

But still very beautiful!

After our meal, I climbed the stairs of the composer's mountaintop studio and got right down to work. I played the score while my composer-friend waved his arms and sang everyone's parts. You might want to be glad we did not record this session. It was purely for "educational purposes".

In case you have never seen a composer's studio, here is an authentic one for you:

I can vouch that this one is neater than most.

We reached the coda around 10:30 pm, said good-night, and retired to our respective wings of this beautiful home:

The next morning, after an invigorating walk-

-I put in a few more hours at the keyboard. A few extremely tricky spots had to be ironed out in preparation for the afternoon rehearsal with the composer and singers. We rehearsed until dinnertime, because the next day was our recording session.

The next morning, we arrived at the hall ( a beautiful historic church), chatted with the recording engineer (an old friend), buckled our musical seat-belts, and got right to work.

The score was full of challenges, but extremely rewarding to perform. Concentration and attention to nuance and tiny details were of the utmost importance. The atmosphere was friendly, encouraging, fairly stress-free, and full of camaraderie. When a mistake was made, the recording engineer simply stopped and announced another take.

We kept at it until we reached the last bar. And then we all gave a shout of happy relief.

But by the end of our six hours together, my poor brain was entirely fried. During the last few takes when asked by one of the singers for her pitch, I stared helplessly down at the keyboard and was stupefied by the request. It was definitely time for coffee.

My faithful page-turner snapped this shot of Bob Manno (composer extraordinaire) with three Crane alumni: Myself (Class of '84), Rand Reeves, tenor (Class of '72) and Wayne Heilman, recording engineer (Class of '85). It was singularly wonderful to work with Rand once again, since he and his wife Barby were the first ones to inspire me to pursue music as a young teen.

Yes, yes. I was a "young teen" once.

This is not a poetic post, nor a very descriptive one. But so many of my friends were curious about what I do when I work on such a project that I thought I'd clue y'all in.


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