Autumn: Memorials, Rock Music, and the Joys and Follies of Love

(NOTE: this blog post was originally published on my Buy Me a Coffee page on 26 September, 2021. This version has been slightly edited)


IN MEMORIAM

First, some new videos, and a bit of background:

Late last week an old friend of mine, Earl Blazer, passed away. His death was not unexpected, but naturally it was was deeply and painfully felt. I composed In Memoriam (for Organ) in Earl’s memory.

I myself was in very poor health that day (not COVID, though), and, despite having dressed and prepared to go to the funeral, an hour prior to heading up to the funeral home, I felt far too unwell to go. I was profoundly disappointed, which only made me feel worse.

I sent the score of In Memoriam to Carson Cooman, with the hope that he might record it at some point. I wanted the best recording of this piece that I could get, so I sent it to the best performer/interpreter of contemporary organ music. I mentioned a few details about the piece, and said that I hoped he might record it sometime. Being aware of Carson’s incredibly busy schedule, I left it at that.

However, shortly thereafter I received a great and entirely unforeseen blessing. Upon receiving the score, Carson immediately set aside time to record it, so I could post it and share it with my friends that day. I was incredibly grateful for this remarkable act of generosity, consideration, and graciousness, making it possible for me to honor my friend with the gift of music – to pay my respects in the only way I could. I will always consider Carson’s recording this piece as one of the kindest gestures ever shown to me. I felt badly enough as it was for not having been able to attend the funeral, but I would have felt immeasurably worse had I been unable to pay my last respects in any substantial way, that day. So, a thousand “thank you’s” to Carson Cooman for this beautiful recording!

PROJECT UPDATES

As I’ve mentioned on previous occasions, the last of the major projects I intend to complete before the end of the year is an album entitled Rock Music. The album consists of a collection of some of my previously released rock tracks, along with a couple newer pieces. This album constitutes a sort of summary of my work in the genre of rock instrumentals to this point in my career. I’ve created several such “summary” albums this year, as I put certain projects behind me and look ahead to my future work. There are some genres – some parts of my work/catalog – to which I believe I’ve contributed enough, at this point, while there are others to which I’d like to give more attention. There are still other genres in which I’ll continue to compose, regardless (organ music is one such genre).

NEW/RE-UPLOADED YOUTUBE VIDEOS

I hope you’ll check out the playlist of rock instrumentals on my YouTube channel. My catalog of popular music instrumentals is one of the most unique features of my catalog (how many composers of concert music also record rock music?). However, these works are unfortunately often overlooked.

I recently re-released one of the tracks I have planned for the new album – a track which is also the opening track of Mosaics II, an album I released earlier this month (https://michaelcalabris.bandcamp.com/album/mosaics-ii). The track is entitled She Rocks It.

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, I’ve begun re-uploading to YouTube some of my old organ improvisation videos. Most of my organ improvisations are avant-garde/experimental in character. Unsurprisingly, they tend to appeal almost exclusively to composers and other creative types. However, they form a significant part of my work, so for those who appreciate my work, some familiarity with these improvisations is necessary.

Here is a newly reposted organ improvisation video: Nebuchadnezzar. I recorded this improvisation a little over a year ago. The name was chosen arbitrarily; I had no specific program in mind when I recorded it.

While not an organ improvisation per se (I did record it at the organ, but what you hear here are the organ’s chimes), here’s another video you should check out. Stoically Enduring the Presence of Passive-Aggressive People, Every Day was recorded last October.

NEW SCORE PUBLICATIONS

(CSU’s Zuckermann IV unfretted clavichord. I took this photo of the instrument several years ago, when I was preparing for a recital)

Among the works I’m preparing for publication at this time is a revised version of a suite for clavichord that I composed in 2019. The suite has the rather eccentric title: Love, Deception, Delusion, & Counterpoint. The subtitle is “A Suite of Songs without Words.”

This is unlike any other clavichord music you may have heard. For those unfamiliar with it, the clavichord has a gentle, almost guitar-like timbre. The movements of this suite consists have, for the most part, a sound not unlike that which one associates with guitar ballads, and this suits the work perfectly, given that it was inspired by the joys and follies (“learning experiences”) that are a natural part of romantic relationships.

After the score is published I’ll write about what the revision entailed. I expect the score to be published sometime next month.

This video – which is unlisted on my YouTube channel – features a recording of my performing two of the seven pieces from this suite. This recording was made at my graduate harpsichord recital in April, 2019. The clavichord on which this was performed (see above image) was a Zuckermann IV unfretted clavichord, tuned to 1/6 comma mean-tone temperament (A = 392 hrz).

Speaking of the clavichord suite, here is a recording of my performing a synthesizer arrangement of the last movement in the revised score: “Star-Crossed.” Musically and in every other way, “Star-Crossed” serves as both a summary of and postscript for the suite.

I may also publish the score of Apollonian/Dionysian, which itself began as a clavichord improvisation. The title refers generally to the “Apollonian/Dionysian” concept made famous by the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900), but, more specifically, it refers to the unique character of the two contrasting two sections of the piece. The title also makes reference to the influence of ancient Arabic and Greek music heard throughout this piece.

Thanks for checking out this blog post!

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