Friday, July 30, 2010

Composer Spotlight - Gerald Busby

Gerald Busby is an absolutely delightful person, if you ever get the chance to meet him.  That opportunity came to me sort of by accident.  After I had decided what I was going to program on this Whitman recital, I had to get the music.  Most of it was available through the invaluable Glendower Jones at Classical Vocal Reprints.  However, Gerald's piece, "Behold this Swarthy Face," was not, and Glendower did not know whom I should contact to get it.  So, I put out an inquiry on Facebook to see if anyone knew how to get in touch with Gerald.  Nothing.  I searched online.  The material available didn't have any contact info that I could use.  He did have a Facebook page, but it didn't look as if he used it much, and I wasn't even sure if it was really him or not.  After exhausting the options I figured I had, I decided to email Thomas Hampson.  It was his album, after all, that introduced me to the work, so I guessed that he might be able to give me some guidance.  I found an email address for his NYC office and fired off a message, expecting to wait several days for a response since he was just a little busy with an international superstar career.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Musings on Preparation

I've spent the past month making the initial preparations of the music for this recital and have reached the point where I'm ready to start putting things together with a pianist. In fact, I'll have my first rehearsal with the wonderful Carol Zinavage on August 5.  We'll have about seven weeks (probably 7-14 hours) to put everything together before I have to travel out of town for another engagement.  When I return, we'll have four days (probably 2 hours) before the performance to brush up the work of August and September.  That might not sound like a lot of time, but in this business where operas can be rehearsed and performed in the span of two weeks, it's plenty.  (To highlight the luxury of time, I will have even less time with my other pianist, Tyson Deaton.  We will probably have 4-6 hours of rehearsal together before we give our first performance in February.  Because of that, we've been in constant communication on the music, discussing what we've learned from our solo practicing.  I'll have the advantage of having already performed the music when we have our first rehearsal, which will lighten the burden of our rehearsals.)

With that, I thought I would take a moment and share some thoughts on preparation and the music so far.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Text Discussion #11: Reconciliation - Drum Taps


Word over all, beautiful as the sky,
Beautiful that war and all its deeds of carnage must in time be utterly lost,
That the hands of the sisters Death and Night incessantly softly wash again, 
          and ever again, this soil'd world;
For my enemy is dead, a man divine as myself is dead,
I look where he lies white-faced and still in the coffin--I draw near,
Bend down and touch lightly with my lips the white face in the coffin.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Concert Dates Announced

Here are the dates for the Whitman recitals.  I'm very excited about these concerts and am looking forward to the prospect of adding a couple more to this schedule.

All but one date will feature the entire program.  Due to time constraints, the concert in Pembroke, NC will have a shortened program.  Those details will be available closer to the performance.  Carol Zinavage will play the concert in Knoxville and Tyson Deaton will play the other dates.

October 14, 2010: Knoxville, TN
February 17, 2011: Hartsville, SC
March 2, 2011: Pembroke, NC

See this page for more information!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Text Discussion #10: Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night - Drum Taps

Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night
(word in italics indicates cuts by Richard Pearson Thomas)

Vigil strange I kept on the field one night;
When you my son and my comrade dropt at my side that day,
One look I but gave which your dear eyes return'd with a look I shall never forget,
One touch of your hand to mine O boy, reach'd up as you lay on the ground,
Then onward I sped in the battle, the even-contested battle,
Till late in the night reliev'd to the place at last again I made my way,
Found you in death so cold dear comrade, found your body son of responding kisses,
          (never again on earth responding,)
Bared your face in the starlight, curious the scene, cool blew the moderate night-wind,
Long there and then in vigil I stood, dimly around me the battle-field spreading,
Vigil wondrous and vigil sweet there in the fragrant silent night,
But not a tear fell, not even a long-drawn sigh, long, long I gazed,
Then on the earth partially reclining sat by your side leaning my chin in my hands,
Passing sweet hours, immortal and mystic hours with you dearest comrade--not a tear, not a word,
Vigil of silence, love and death, vigil for you my son and my soldier,
As onward silently stars aloft, eastward new ones upward was your death,
Vigil final for you brave boy, (I could not save you, swift was your death,
I faithfully loved you and cared for you living, I think we shall surely meet again,)
Till at latest lingering of the night, indeed just as the dawn appear'd,
My comrade I wrapt in his blanket, envelop'd well his form,
Folded the blanket well, tucking it carefully over head and carefully under feet,
And there and then bathed by the rising sun, my son in his grave, in his rude-dug grave I deposited,
Ending my vigil strange with that, vigil of night and battle-field dim,
Vigil for boy of responding kisses, (never again on earth responding,)
Vigil for comrade, swiftly slain, vigil I never forget, how as day brighten'd,
I rose from the chill ground and folded my soldier well in his blanket,
And buried him where he fell.