Journal entries by composer and pianist Laurie Conrad
1 post • Page 1 of 1
Image: The view from Windgarth’s dock.
Monday, June 11
Worked in the gardens. Watched the sun go down over the vineyards across the road. Stood in the road, the lake on three sides, through the trees. Taking a break from composing.
Wednesday, June 13
Began copying out the revisions to Sailboats into the main score.
Dave the physicist is in town, we are going out to dinner after meditation class. A man from the City came by today to tell me that they are putting wheelchair ramp in on the corner. I have a few days to remove 5 feet of flowers along the sidewalk. In his words: anything in their way will be removed, destroyed. I thanked him for warning me & asked if he is a gardener. He said ‘no’.
Finished copying out 17 pages. Can barely keep my eyes open so decided to stop.
Thursday, June 14
Just got in from working in the gardens, removing plants on the corner. Suki and Migdahlia helped. Migdahlia is here for a few weeks, visiting Millie; Suki lives across the street. I felt like a gravedigger, working in the lamplight - but I can only work in the gardens at night because of the yellow jackets. Suki wants to learn to meditate. So as we dug out huge masses of oregano, iris and sage, roses and other plants, I spoke to her about meditation. I had taught Migdahlia how to meditate last summer ... Under the lamplight, holding a shovel, hands and knees covered with dirt, telling Suki that when Christ said, "If you make thine eye single, thy whole body will be filled with Light", He was speaking of meditation ...
I have only a few pages of copying out the revised score of Sailboats left. Then onto the last song of the cycle, The Feather. Sailboats is very Impressionistic & I am thoroughly enjoying working on this song. Only two songs in the cycle are for both soprano & baritone voices, Sailboats & The Feather - & the possibilities are so much richer with two voices. I am keeping Sailboats at a fast tempo & keeping the harp busy ...
This might sound strange: but I wouldn’t mind living in this song for the rest of my life.
Friday, June 15
Finished copying out the revisions to Sailboats. Twenty nine pages of score. Took a quick look at the last song of this cycle, The Feather. The score to The Feather is forty eight pages long ...
Sunday, June 17
Watered & fed the window boxes. The house & the gardens are coming to life after a long, hard winter. Our next renters arrive Friday & leave Monday. Because of my late night hours in the garden, I now have a cold. So I will wait to revise the last song, The Feather.
Rene called yesterday, & requested a piece 6-12 minutes long with some technical challenges. I know her playing so well, I think I can easily write something to show off her tremendous technique. And perhaps stretch her technique a bit.
I am sitting on the dock in the sun, the first sun I have seen in days. If a yellow jacket stings me here, then God sent him. Near Larry’s back wooden gate, a lone pink peony facing south. As I walked across the back lawn, towards the water, I decided that I would revise The Feather for piano & instruments & voice instead of harp. The Feather is so similar to Sailboats in style it might be better to separate them, i.e. omit The Feather from the cycle. I think the harp part will sound better on the piano & I can write more lines for the piano. Perhaps I will not use the instruments now scored, revise this song for piano & voice alone. It is in the 70's & sunny; a slight breeze. The hills are lost in a blue haze today.
Xeroxed the score to Sailboats yesterday; a copy for me in rehearsals, a copy for Bob Spear, Myra - & one copy to cut & paste into parts for the players to use. That will be the next task for Images & the Unsung Song cycle, getting the parts ready for the performers.
White fluff from the locust trees, drifting & bobbing on the waves. Falling from the trees & blown in the wind like snow ...
11 p.m. Resumed work on The Feather. Am writing more lines for the piano, expanding the original harp part; revising some of the voice lines. I might decide not to use the other instruments in this song, or at least not all of them.
Monday, June 18
Myra stopped by, she is in Ithaca until Wednesday. Gave her the score to Sailboats.
Got to the end of The Feather, a first quick run-through. At times I altered the harp part to better suit the piano, at other times I made slight changes to the voice parts. Still undecided whether to include other instruments or keep this song for only voices & piano.
Thursday, June 21
Arrived here tonight to find all sorts of plant & tree debris in the roads, on lawns, on the lake. Apparently we missed some sort of tornado traveling south from Geneva earlier in the day. Chuck & Shirley said you couldn’t even see the lake during the storm, it just disappeared. A nice table washed up onto our beach & Chuck fished out two hardwood chairs. Larry said one year the lake gave him a boat during a storm; no one claimed it, so he sold it. M. & I spent hours cleaning up the yard & beach for the tenants arriving tomorrow. Poor Ester lost some huge trees by her creek; another fallen tree put a large gap in her wooden fence, essentially destroyed it. Met her by the road, holding a rake. Larry said she would work for many hours & for many days, trying to rake up all the debris. Ester is in her seventies; Swiss & squat - sturdy. I have missed her this past winter. Larry said he would help her work on the weekend. Larry’s yard had virtually no damage, as though the storm just skipped over him.
Saturday, June 23
Have begun sketching out changes for The Feather; it will be for voices and piano alone. Wrote a few pages of new score. I can use some passages, but other pages will need to be either rewritten or be entirely changed. A good project while Myra is in New York City learning her parts for Images. When she is ready, we can schedule rehearsals for Images and the Unsung Songs.
Sunday, June 24
Cool; a breeze. Sitting on the dock; a sailboat trying to catch the wind. The hills blue in the distance; mist. Sun here & there, birds. The sound of the waves.
Chuck came by with a fellow who lives near the Point; he owns the chairs and the table we all salvaged after last week’s storm. Larry said he found one of his deck chairs on the way to work, saw it further down the beach from the road. M. is taking a swim, wearing an insulated suit. We are still pulling fallen branches out of the lake.
Sketched out a few more pages of The Feather last night. It has been many years sinceI have written for piano; the piano literature is so vast & deep. I have always felt it better to write for more neglected instruments. However, when I write the piano piece for Rene I will also keep myself in mind, so I can also play it in concerts. Record. A CD of piano music, if I can find the time. Life holds so many pockets of ideas & activities & projects, if I could only live them all. The cycles of inner work & inspiration fluctuating with the outer, the outflowing, the manifestation of those thoughts. So much of the work is alone, in solitude - & then the rehearsals & concerts, people. The martins perched on their small broken roof, looking at me. Small silhouettes .... waiting, preening ...
A family of birds has made a home in Sam’s boat, making a racket over some pressing issue. The lake unconcerned, points of light serenely floating on the waves.
Met Jamie, our new cleaning woman at Windgarth. She is hard at work. The lawn needs mowing, must call Kyle. Switched jobs with M. because there are more yellow jackets today - I will do the laundry, she will work in the gardens.
M.’s nephew Niel arrived from South Africa; he will stay with us for a few weeks. A handsome young man now, I have not seen him for seven years.