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I am sitting

from Thursday, January26th of the year2012.

I’m sitting backstage at Benaroya Hall in Seattle simultaneously re-packing my bags and listening to these outrageous republican debates. I love it so much! I’m going to do a pre-concert moment in about half an hour’s time — I’ve been sent a sort of loose set of guidelines for what we might talk about and it’s a lot of Schubert — it’s the Unfinished on the same program as tonight. Last night, I premiered, along with Owen, Shara & Bryce a new work by David Lang that basically extracts all the “death” bits from all the Schubert songs. The piece, Death Speaks, is meant to be a companion to his Little Match Girl Passion, with which it was paired last night. I met Paul Hillier! I am kind of his biggest fan but I refrained from whipping out my “No. 1 Choral Music Foam Finger” and writing the Psalm settings from The Cave on my chest in latex paint.

(an aside: has everybody seen, recently, the Ian Bostridge videos for Winterreise? He looks SO fine in these videos although it’s too bad it’s no pictures of Julius Drake. Julius Drake, in addition to sounding like a lesser Ducktales character, is one of the best collaborative pianists ever in the history of ever. He’s done albums with everybody you’ve ever known about, and is a really sensitive and wonderful performer. Apparently he and my homegirl Alice Coote just did a Winterreise at the Wigmore Hall that made everybody throw their knickers at the stage; it’s heartening to know that it’s still music you can do in any octave about which people will lose their shit.)

Last night was strange: it’s very rare that I play music in public other than my own or, like, Thomas’s. I had an experience that I’ve never had before. We’ve been working on this piece for a few months, but only really started putting it together in the last few days. Playing David’s music, in my experience, is rather like cooking octopus, where either you do nothing to it at all or boil it for a million hours with a wine cork. Last night, our normally minimal approach to the fourth movement kind of went to the other side, and an unexpectedly tender moment happened in one of the bars and I lost track of my triplets!!! That’s never happened to me before; I’m normally super solid, but it was so B-flattish and delicious. By the time my eyes got back to the page, it was probably a half a second, but I sort of fudged a left-hand moment and made a weird face I hope is not on video. I should also point out here that David’s music is crazy-looking on the page. You really have to follow it like early Nintendo (scroll mode!) or you can get not just lost but destructively lost.

Everybody get back into the L.M.G.P., though. David’s music is often process-based, and when text is involved, the text is sort of subjected to the same process as the notes, sometimes to a kind of abstract effect. In the Passion, the texts and the processes driving the car align in a really beautiful dance, and each of the many, many movements has a toe-curlingly great moment. Shara and I watched from backstage and I still get deep deep cilice passion pangz from “Eli, Eli.”

Today, I got up at Sparrow’s Fart and flew from San Francisco to Seattle, just in time for the dress rehearsal for my new piece, So Far So Good. I blogged about this piece before; it’s growing on me despite its oddness. There’s a trumpet solo which sounds really really American and delish. There’s a horn line that I’m pretty sure I ganked from Harmonielehre and that’s fine with me because I love that piece more than garlic. Newt Gingrich wants to go to the moon and I’m also fine with that. Ludovic Morlot is absolutely heaven.


  • Oh! I had no idea you were going to be in my city tonight. I would have loved to see you.

  • You have seen the accompanying documentary, right? More Julius there:

    Also, when I saw Alice Coote was going to be starring in Two Boys, I peed myself a little. She is astonishing.

  • Couldn’t be there Thursday night because I was performing with The Box Is Empty (also in Seattle) – NW premiere of LMGP, actually, with Reich’s “Proverb”. I’ll be there tomorrow, though – looking forward to it.

  • I attended the David Lang concert at Zankel Hall last night. I bought the ticket esp. to hear “The Little Match Girl Passion”, but I loved “Death Speaks” as well. Great concert! Also heard one of your compositions at Merkin Hall a couple of years ago, and I bought your CD “Seeing Is Believing” at the concert last night. (I’m a “senior citizen” new music fan and regularly read your blog … )

  • It was good to hear your work and your comments on it at the Winnipeg New Music Festival this evening (February 1, 2012) Here’s a couple of pictures: