24.The Soul Awakens-Clarinet Concerto 7/19/2018 6:28:17 PM

Dave,

Thank you for the thoughtful response. I'll plunge right in, always bearing in mind the old aphorism about opinions being like a certain portion of the anatomy: everybody's got one...

I am a person with little formal music education and of modest talent; however, my love of music is sincere and lifelong. I know that some music that I love is not really that good and some music that I accept as being among the greatest artistic achievements of Western thought does not resonate with me. I have always prided myself on being able to tell the difference. When I first heard your concerto, I didn't know what to think. I liked the sound of it but I couldn't get a grip on it. It seemed disjointed, darting from idea to idea without giving me time to hear what you were saying. But I did not assume this was a reflection of the quality of the piece; it could very well be the quality of my effort as a listener. So I vowed to give it another go. Was I ever glad that I did!

With each subsequent audition the structure and development of the tune reveals itself. It is an exquisite work, easily the best thing of yours that I've heard. The word mercurial comes to mind...probably because it makes me think of Mercury from The Planets. This is not just a work of skill, there is obviously love in this thing. I cannot say anything better than that.

As for the production, let's get this out of the way right off the top: the solo clarinet is absolutely astonishing. I mean full-on Jay Bacal-level stuff. I put on my best headphones and turned up the gas. Even relatively short sustained notes grow and breath, the articulations are spot on. Kudos to you and Becky!

As for the orchestra, the subsequent hearings brought this conclusion to my mind: Were it my creation, I would have orchestrated it lighter (as a brass player, this feels like sacrilege!). I'm thinking small chamber strings with a solo flute, oboe, basson, and horn, plus kettle drums and a dash of auxiliary concussion. I'm reminded of the first time I heard the original orchestration of Appalachian Spring after growing up on the big version. I still love the fat sound but I appreciate the clarity and purity of the lighter forces, which I think would be a real advantage for this piece. It would also help keep the clarinet right up front in live gig situations (and maybe make it more attractive for smaller groups and venues to perform).

All of that goes straight into the For-What-It's-Worth file. Congratulations on a wonderful achievement; you've got a fan (also For-What-It's-Worth). I can't imagine what it would feel like to be able to dedicate such a work to my wife...she tears up when I sing Have I Told You Lately That I Love You? at karaoke so I guess we all do what we can.

Warmest regards,

Tom

25.The Soul Awakens-Clarinet Concerto 7/18/2018 7:28:11 PM

Dave,

Just letting you know that I have not finked out on listening to and giving you some thoughts on your concerto. I am on my 2nd pass through the recordings and I'm sure it will take at least one more. First impressions are important but they ain't everything (for example, periodically I try some food that I've believed for years that I didn't like, only to discover that it was, in fact, delicious). The next step is to write what I think in a way that is clear, helpful, respesctful, constructive...and doesn't make me sound like an ignoramus (this final hope may be a vain one but it's worth a shot).

Thank you for asking about the band concert. It featured one of the two adult wind bands that I perform with. This was part of a weekly summer series in a park in Manitou Springs, CO (a small tourist town at the base of Pikes Peak) that has been going for more than 20 years. Historic bandshell, nice crowd of locals and tourists, good arrangements of well-known music played by a crew of folks who are doing their best and having a good time. Not a bad group...there are in fact a few pretty serious ringers that always make me smile when they get a short solo. You'd think that by now I'd come up with a new hobby...

I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Again, congratulations on the performances and I look forward to hearing the live recordings.

Tom

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