Creating a "Great Cacophony"

May is over and June begun. At first glance you may think that nothing worth blogging about happened in this time. In truth this stretch of time was a veritable honey badger of activity. Here are some highlights:
  • Accompanying Shostakovich Concerto No. 2 with Josh on multiple occasions. 
  • Accompanying a bassoon recital with Melody: Mignone and Ravel. 
  • My sister, Bethany, is staying with us and acting as Numi's cuddling buddy. 
  • New York trip: World Premier of Vijay Singh's Mass Op. 1 at Lincoln Center, humidity, friends from high school and college, Cosby houses in Brooklyn. 
  • Jessica's 26th Bday! 
  • Accompanying and directing the Cambiata for the Spokane Area Children's Chorus concert. 
  • Moving ahead with my Soviet music thesis: writing a Prospectus for 20th Century class, finding rare scores, learning some preludes with Kendall, typing in Cyrillic, and brainstorming for a Lecture Recital next winter. 
  • Learning the violin over the summer with an EWU loaner. 
  • Moving out of 106 E. 29th and over two blocks to 2811 Lamonte St. 
One bit I'd like to write a bit more about is this afternoon's Inland Northwest Chamber Music Collective concert at Eastern. Jessica and I listened to the musical mastery of my friends Jane E., Kendall F., Julia S., Susan W., and others, performing Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire and Ravel's Piano Trio. Both these pieces had been discussed in our 20th Century class this quarter and I was particularly excited to see my professors in action with some truly remarkable and difficult music. Bring on the cascading countrapuntal rays of maddening moonlight!

Jessica had a different experience. My wife is not particularly fond of modern musics. She has not made a thorough study of it nor has she the desire. That being said I would like to fiercely make it clear that I completely respect my wife's musical sensibilities and tastes. Far too many "serious" musicians alienate themselves in a cowl of superiority. What interested me in Jessica's first hearing of this piece is her strong visceral and cerebral reaction to the music. (Music is not the only thing that gives her these reactions. I have seen her become passionately affected by cinema and literature and cuisine with an astounding immediacy.) I listen to music with my mind. Jessica listens with all of herself. Try as she might, trooper that she is (she did marry me after all) Jessica's first bought with atonal music left her shaken and physically ill. Her humorous, frightening, and revealing metaphors attempt to capture her reaction: she felt (and still does hours later) a pulsating nausea of different rhythms in her head, the sense of her body shutting down to protect itself, and vision narrowing down into nothingness. The music she characterized as the Cruxiatus Curse, Mordor for children, Dementor music, and a zombie puppet show.

Above all my wife is my hero for going through that for me. And the effect of the music on her hits frighteningly near the intent and motion of the text and musical text setting as an Expressionist slide into depravity and retreat into antiquity. My placid digestion of this piece misses much of what overwhelmed Jessica. That's always worth remembering.

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