It was bound to happen. After finishing Act I (all the notes are in Finale – still have to do text, dynamics, articulation, etc., but all the notes are in) and basking in the glow of John Clodfelter and Mei-Chuan Lin’s exceptional performance of the Concerto for Piano and Wind Band (the performance and my pre-concert talk are viewable here), I ran headlong into writer’s block.
Last week I turned 49 and wrote almost nothing. I don’t know if it was the usual “just finished something big” letdown or Seasonal Affective Disorder – we got 10 inches of snow on my birthday and below-zero temperatures right after – but oof, last week was a waste. I need to remind myself it’s OK. This is not a sprint. Still, I ended up doing a lot of soul-searching, and I wonder if I need to not be a music professor for a while beyond this sabbatical. This is an ongoing debate.
That first act? 40 minutes. 1113 measures. And it is good. As a composer, I’m at the top of my game. It feels cohesive, it feels suitably theatrical, the music and libretto are never at cross-purposes. Just like with the snow, I’m digging out of the writer’s block this week. I’m starting Act III, scene 2 (the final scene, with the possible exception of an epilogue). My librettist Dave, after a brief health scare (he is doing much better), is cranking away on Act II.
“But nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight/Got to kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight” – Bruce Cockburn
I choose to kick at the darkness.
PS – Слава Україні! Героям слава!
This is still fun, but man, don’t let anyone fool you – writing an opera is work.
Took a mighty long time to put the JQA/Symmes meeting into Finale. It’s 14+ minutes long and 388 measures. This is just the piano reduction! The orchestral score (Fl/picc, Ob/EH, Cl/Bs Cl/AS, Bsn/TS, Hn, 2Tpt/Flgl, Tbn/Euph, Tuba, Hp, Pno, Timp, 2 Perc, string quintet) is going to take up most of the summer!
I am currently working on the opening of Act I, up to the Poem Duet. If all goes well, I can finish that this week and write the rest of the connection between the Poem Duet and the Symmes meeting as well as the conclusion of Act I next week, then spend the week of 2/13 editing, typesetting, and finalizing the act. I do have a couple of small distractions; I need to write a 20-30 minute talk about my Concerto for Piano and Band, which I will give on February 13 at 2pm at the University of Jamestown in Jamestown, ND. This will be followed immediately by the premiere of the two-piano version (John Clodfelter, soloist; Mei-Chuan Lin, accompaniment). The night before that, the Central Lakes Symphony Orchestra is giving a concert of music from films, so my wife and I will be driving from Alexandria to Jamestown after the gig. (Playing in that group has reinvigorated me.) And after that, of course, the Cincinnati Bengals are in the Super Bowl. We’re staying an extra night in Jamestown just to make sure we don’t miss the game. WHO DEY!
Once Act I is finished, I’ll try to put up a couple of excerpts. I’ll be writing Act III next.
Back to the grind.