Saturday, June 12, 2010

New 'Cello Book

Greetings from the Singing 'Cello

I'm sure it may be the case that many book lovers are also music lovers. And by music lovers, I mean folks who still yearn for the days of table-top records or CDs even. (Surely, this crowd is too young to have anyone pining for the days of wax cylinders!) Well, here we have the best of both worlds: a book of music! Released this week for public consumption and performance, 200 Pieces for Acappella 'Cello, compiled and arranged by Sona Hairabedian, is a fine addition for the 'cellist on the go. Now, the disclaimer is that Sona is an old friend of mine from two decades ago, when we ran in the chamber music circles of our old friend and mentor, Dr. Herman Ash (1909-2006), whom I wrote about on this blog last August on the occasion of the centenary of his birth (for those interested go to the following blog link below):

Some months ago, Sona asked me to contribute a new solo 'cello piece to this fine publication, to which I agreed. I wasn't sure what to write, but in the end I drew up a short work, which I gave the playful title "Jumping Noon," which is a jumpingly spry piece. I was happy to see that as I was the last piece in the book (#200, in fact), my neighbor on the page before me was a young guy named "Beethoven," for which #199 is an old drinking song called "Ode to Joy." Ever hear of it? After you play an Ode, you can "Jump Noon" on the next page. You can see parts of the new book on Amazon, where it is now for sale for ($42.50)--for those interested, my cut is less than 1/200th%. But obviously, I'm not in this for the money! Here's a link to the Amazon page:

Now on another 'cello-y note, for those who haven't already guessed, my side-vocation is a composer of "classical" music. Since January of this year, when I discovered a new open-source notation software, I've been able to speed up my compositional production several hundred fold--and that's not an exaggeration! The software is incredibly easy to use and prints publisher quality script very easily. This week also marks the completion of my Sonata for 'Cello and Piano, which I started work on this February and worked on for two months, then resumed briefly in May for about a week. I completed the last two pages on Thursday. In all, the manuscript (or typescript) comes to 45 pages; the 'cello portion (seen above to the left) comes to 12 pages. The work is in three movements, Moderato, Adagio, and Scherzo--con moto, unless I decide to change them!

Near the end of the final movement, you can see the physical workout for the players, especially the 'cellist, who is forced not only to play in 5-flats, but a steeple-chase of double-stop triplets "con moto." Sorry folks, that's just how I hear it!

My history of writing for 'cello goes back nearly twenty years, when I first wrote a short Suite for Solo 'Cello for Mrs. Eleanor Diemer, a local luminary in the 'cello world of the Hudson Valley in the 1980s and earlier. Around her 90th birthday or so, I had Sona play the piece for the ailing older 'cellist, in a nursing home where she was living. A few years later, also in the early 1990s, when I went to college at St. Lawrence University, I composed my Suite #2 for Solo 'Cello, this time for Elsa Hilger, the renowned 'cellist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and first female to play with a major symphony orchestra. The occasion for the Suite #2 for Ms. Hilger, was also her 90th birthday, this time performed by North Country 'cellist, Beth Robinson (incidentally, the person who encouraged me to enter a composition competition in Potsdam, NY, which resulted in my writing the narrative opera Silas in 1995). My third Suite for Solo 'Cello was written around 1997 for Luis Garcia-Renart, a 'cellist who studied with Pablo Casals. The work was much more complex and difficult than the earlier suites. He gave me advice on double stop construction, a point that I am still indebted to him on, and a point that I still struggle with, admittedly! Most recently, it is this work, the Sonata for 'Cello and Piano, as well as a Concerto for 'Cello and Orchestra, which I began also earlier this year, which have been the focus of my musical attentions. For now though, everyone out there, enjoy the music of the morning...of the birds and all that good stuff. You can listen to the rest in due time.