Journal entries by composer and pianist Laurie Conrad
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Image: a page of the score of Cathedrals of Light, Vision V for flute and harp.
Tuesday, November 27
Chris & Sarah are back in town, we had dinner together tonight. I have missed them. I have not written a note of music; the concert at CSMA is set for June 6th/ a few Images & Visions. Myra & Laura have agreed, need to contact a violist and violinist. Wrote Spear about recording the String Quintet & Elegie - no response. If he cannot find me musicians that can play his instruments, I will have to use other players & traditional instruments. I should contact Cornell again, about the June concert. Where does time go ... Raked the lawns & gardens; painted a room at Windgarth. Need to catch up on letters; called the men about the drainpipe in town; had the eaves cleaned. The rose on the corner is covered with blossoms & it feels like spring tonight. At least two doctor’s appointments each week; some errands with JF.
Monday, December 17
An e-mail from Robert Spear. His quintet players have officially disbanded, at least for now. I will have to record Quintet II on traditional instruments. And train all new players.
Thursday, December 20
An e-mail from Cornell, Kristin: the June 6th concert at CSMA will not interfere with their concert. They are wavering between June 22nd or 23rd. I think Images will be on both concerts, & hopefully I can use the same players. And then record them. Will write Kristen back.
Myra called to say she was practicing her Images scores.
Thursday, December 27
Wrote Mark Gould an e-mail this morning:
Hello dear Mark!
Hope you had a lovely and joyous Christmas! Carolyn and the children came; we made macaroni & asparagus for Christmas Eve dinner - and Carolyn made us all French toast & maple syrup for breakfast. Carolyn is the daughter of my singer, Louise McConnell. Louise & I rehearsed so often & gave so many concerts that in a way I helped raise Carolyn - she would just fall asleep under the piano. She came with us everywhere.
We opened our gifts to each other after dinner & then played a round of the game 'Sorry' we had bought for Ian - his first board game, & he won. Then the children hung up their stockings & Santa came while they were sleeping; Carolyn and I wrapped their presents after midnight Mass. They will come again New Years Eve & stay overnight & I am very much looking forward to it ...
A few further thoughts on music/architecture:
As a composer, whenever I add or subtract lines of music, for me it is as though adding or subtracting planks or stories, floors of a building - more than creating a natural landscape, in Nature. I am creating edifices, a town or a city - with people & children, hearts & minds in those fleeting edifices, thoughts & feelings both ... In Vision V for flute & harp, Cathedrals of Light, I can see the spires of the cathedrals in the harp part in the final pages of the written score - contrasting with the plainsong, the chantlike melody in the flute. The dynamics that we composers use are more like colours, paints; but for me the voices, the lines of music we write create something dimensional & more solid: houses with doors & windows ... A place to walk around in, visit - even if only for a few moments. We can always revisit, with friends, relatives - or alone, in solitude - either to reflect or deeply feel - or just to visit, gaze, listen ....
I find this in all music, but pershaps especially in choral music, as voices are added or subtracted, lines passed from one group of voices to another - as though one steps into a new town or building, or explores new & old rooms, alleyways, boulevards ... closets ... Hallways...
The geometries on the page - formed by the voicings & inversions of chords - have always affected me, struck me deeply and forcefully, as the manifestation of the Divine ordering. Sound exists in air, but its notation is on paper - & for me, this notation on the manuscript paper forms a new reality of music. And this would be true no matter what notation was used. The laws that govern music will manifest, no matter what notation man devises - it must.
For me, counterpoint, contrapuntal motion - on the page of ms paper - looks as balanced as it sounds. Parallel motion, as in Debussy, has the same parallel sweep that we hear when the piece is performed. These written, notated, patterns & geometric forms on the page, for me, are a sort of architecture - just as the painter constructs a building in his painting. Just as the patterns that appear in sand when a cymbal is struck ....
I realize that this is not the usual comparison made between music & architecture. But I am speaking now as a composer & pianist - a composer & interpreter, working with layers & lines of sound. A composer adding & subtracting written lines of notes appearing & then disappearing on blank manuscript paper ...
Well, these are merely initial thoughts on a very fascinating topic.
Wishing you all the best
Thursday, January 3
Took out the main score of Chansons, to finish the orchestration. Put the score in the middle of the living room floor, so I would trip over it ...