(a photo I took while out on my daily walk on Thursday, July 14th, 2022)
UPDATES SINCE THE LAST NEWSLETTER
As with pretty much all of my album covers, the images featured on these covers are largely symbolic; referencing something/some event/some person that inspired or relates to the music in some way. Sometimes the symbolism reveals aspects about the music that I’ve chosen to not otherwise disclose. The cover of Organ Improvisations (Volume XIII) is one instance of this latter rationale.
Among the reasons for the use of certain (symbolic) images on the Keyboard Improvisations (Volume IX) cover are the rather grand, romantic, early twentieth-century character of some of the improvisations (hence, the wine/champagne glasses, etc.). The stills from F.W. Murnau’s Satanas (for which I composed a soundtrack, incidentally) and the abstract image of a woman on the front cover, make cryptic but rather obvious reference to the inspiration behind some of the improvisations. The back cover’s photo of American actress Mabel Normand (1893 – 1930) makes reference to both the grand, early twentieth century character, as well as to the symbolism of Murnau’s Satanas and the abstract woman.
I haven’t made videos for all the tracks featured on this albums. However, one of the videos I did make is a video for Darling, the opening track of Keyboard Improvisations (Volume IX).
The primary project on which I’m presently working is the completion of the Harmonium Music album.
I had hoped to have this album released before my birthday in early August, but the album will almost certainly not be completed by that time. However, I will do my very best to have the album released as soon as possible.
As the album cover indicates, these harmonium works are performed by Carson Cooman. I’m incredibly grateful to Carson for recording these compositions. The first instrument I played was a reed organ, so these pieces hold a special significance for me.
Two notable works that appear on the album are recent compositions: Little Harmonic Labyrinth, and Contrast/Chromatic.
While the meaning of Little Harmonic Labyrinth is rather obvious, that of Contrast/Chromatic might be less so.
Contrast/Chromatic is a two-part work, and the title makes reference to the work’s primary characteristics. The first piece is perhaps a bit more “atonal” than chromatic, but it certainly contrasts with the second piece, which is a bit more accessible, with some liturgical- and Neo-Baroque-sounding passages. A couple places in the second piece even have the sound one often associates with late 19th/early 20th century French accordion music. This second piece is full of contrasts, but what ties it together is the chromaticism – hence the title.
For my birthday last year, my sister purchased tickets to Elton John’s final Cleveland show. His present tour, which wraps up in November, is called the “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour. It’s Elton’s final world tour.
These tickets were one of the very best birthday gifts I’ve ever received, and I was and am incredibly grateful that I had the opportunity to hear Elton in concert one last time.
Like most people of my generation, Elton really came to my attention through The Lion King. I began studying music formally several years prior to the release of this film, but hearing music by a rock musicians whose instrument was a keyboard instrument (in this instance, a piano) – this is what initially drew me to Elton’s work. The musical environment in which I grew up did not include concert music. Since most rock/pop/country singers/musicians play(ed) guitar, finally coming across a rock musician who was a keyboardist – this made a big impact on me. I’ve enjoyed Elton’s music ever since.
Last night’s concert was the best concert I’ve ever attended, and the best Elton John concert I’ve attended. The musicianship was superb. The place was electric from beginning to end. The audience sang along with every song. Elton was very clearly having a great time. I’ve watched recordings of several of the recent dates on this tour, but last night’s show was hands-down the best of the recent shows. Prior to the night’s final song, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” Elton expressed his appreciation for the enthusiasm shown, and love demonstrated by, the audience. His reception last night will stand as a testimony to the love the people of NE Ohio have for him and for his music.
While having the opportunity to Elton John in concert one last time was an incredibly gift and blessing, it was also an occasion for sadness. My thirty-eighth birthday is coming up soon, and I’ve reached that rather unhappy stage of life where I’m experiencing the loss (either partially or entirely) of some of the people who have made a profound impact on my life. It almost felt destined that I attend this concert. It was, as it were, a full circle experience – seeing the last Cleveland show of the last tour of a man who was one of my earliest musical influences.
WRAPPING UP ANOTHER YEAR
Some of the professional highlights of this year include:
-Releasing twenty-four albums (Organ Works (Volume IV), Rock Music, Electronic Music Volumes IV – VII, A Blanket of Stars & Other Works, Mata Hari, Organ Improvisation (Sampler), Keyboard Improvisation (Sampler), Electronic Music Film Scores (Volume III), Organ Improvisations Volumes IX – XIII, Keyboard Improvisations Volumes VII – IX, Piano Music, Heartbreakers, Mystery Music, Mystery Music IV, Clues & Sublimation, and Star-Crossed (Songs without Words for Piano))
-Having two of my choral works (Kyrie Eleison (for SATB Chorus) and Sanctus, as well as several organ works, performed at Harvard University’s Memorial Chapel. The performers included the Harvard University Choir, and organist, David von Behren
-Having my clavichord work, Love, Deception, Delusion, & Counterpoint, performed at Cambridge University by Professor Francis Knights
-Recording Carson Cooman’s Night Paths
-Carson Cooman’s recordings of my harmonium works
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