Saturday, May 10, 2008

Emerging from the Canyons

More than a week has passed since I've last posted, so I thought I'd try a short entry here so that half of May didn't disappear before I returned to this page. Mostly it's been work--so much to read that I can't really focus on anything else, reading for all sorts of university-related student theses and final projects, programs, deadlines, etc., on top of which there's the lecture course, which, thankfully, spares me the necessity of reading the primary works (though rereading's required), but secondary critical texts are a necessity for those works (like Willa Cather's stories or Robert Lowell's poems, for example) for which I have not previously focused in my teaching or own critical work. Right now, I'm sitting at my mother's kitchen table, with nearly 20 stories to read through carefully for another required responsibility, and will get 20 more when I return to campus on Monday. I wish I could muster the mental agility to slip between these cordilleras of required reading and things like blogging, but I've found, at least of this past fall, when the mountains of work just kept rising like a volcanic cloud, that I couldn't. Well, summer will be here soon--my own work, and this blog, will see a bit more of me as a result.


One of the students who recently found the blog asked me if I was in New Jersey last week because of my post about the Princeton concert. I wasn't--I've been in Chicago (and this weekend, St. Louis) almost continuously for over a month now--but I did have the opportunity to hear the concert online, and here's what I wrote to Audiologo, whose pieces were superlative. (From my judging, and I'm not just being enthusiastic and celebratory.) I wrote about them:

I listened to the concert via streaming audio! It was so much fun to do so. I was trying to figure out whose pieces were which, since I must have missed the introduction, but the first piece sounded like a dance track [Timbaland Symphony, a mash up of various Timbaland produced cuts with Beethoven's 9th Symphony, which was a response to DJ Dangermouse]; the second a fairly straightforward performance of a classical instrumental score or a new score written in that format [Ravel's Sonatine (which was played marvelously by Francine Kay, also was the pianist on my piece) and you just got Andrea Mazzariello's fall down five times, get up six]; the third a duet (or were there more instruments?) involving a piano and cello (?), again fairly traditional [Shostakovich's Op. 20 piano trio and you only heard Anne Hege's Bedridden Fantasies]; and then I heard the final series of pieces Schubert's Der Doppelgänger], one of which included a performance of "Mary Mac," and then Aurora Micu singing "You are most beautiful," over the piano accompaniment and some electronic background material! Did I get this order correct? I also heard lots of talking between the first two main pieces and the latter two, so I kept hoping that someone would announce the pieces, but I really guessed I missed the intro. It was altogether really exciting, and your piece--and I'm not just saying this because I know you--struck me as the most inventive, daring and beautiful, especially when I considered what you took as your starting point. With the earlier instrumental pieces, I guess I was hoping to hear something more...complex? Something that synthesized some of the many 20th and 21st century strands of composition, non-electronic and electronic/digital. The first one did do this, of course, but yours felt especially fresh and engaging.
(Clarifications courtesy of Audiologo.) So I wasn't there in body, but virtually....

Dreaming on the transverse
retinas of our discourse
we transcribe through signs towards
the echoes of their singing...