Christmas 2022 Newsletter

Since this newsletter goes out on the last Sunday of each month – and the last Sunday of this particular month is Christmas Day – I’m publishing this, my final newsletter for 2022, several days early.


It’s a clichéd sentiment, but I will say it (or type it, rather): it’s hard to believe how fast this year has passed!

Despite its unique challenges, 2022 was a rather remarkable year for me; a very productive year; a year when many special things happened – some of which are highlighted in a video I recently published. You can check out the video here:

NEW COMPOSITIONS/RECORDINGS

Since publishing 2022: A Retrospective, I’ve composed and published several short(er) works, in addition to recording a couple keyboard improvisations.

Meditation on a Masonic Tapestry (for Organ) is my most recent composition for organ – and among my very favorites of my organ works. The piece was inspired by a Masonic tapestry (which you can see as the background image in this video) made by a twentieth century Masonic artist named Kharmacher.

This composition is more a meditation on the tapestry as a work of visual art rather than being a musical depiction of what the tapestry portrays. The piece might be considered impressionistic – not in the sense of its sounding like Debussy, but rather its evoking a mood or atmosphere.

Despite its not being programmatic in any way, there is nonetheless a bit of Masonic symbolism in the music itself (a clue: the opening chord, etc.).

Christmas Tree Lights is a short electronic work. The piece was inspired by an experience I had recently; sitting alone in my living room – the room illumined solely by the Christmas tree – and thinking about how quickly people grow older; how quickly time passes, and how the swift passage of time never ceases to surprise anyone.

In this composition, both childhood (and the wonder and love of the holiday season that’s unique to childhood), as well as the steady flow of time, are represented by an analog toy piano ostinato. The music and concrete sounds (music boxes, etc.) heard around the toy piano part create a kaleidoscopic effect, musically depicting the rather evanescent nature of both memory and of life itself.

The music box that plays “What Child Is This?” at the close of the piece is both symbolic and ironic.

Finally, two short rock/pop instrumentals: Nilufa, and Tiger Lilly. As is probably obvious, these pieces share a similar sentiment – as well as a common source of inspiration.

I also recently recorded a piano improvisation, appropriately titled Winter (VERY appropriately titled, as, at the moment I’m typing these words, NE Ohio is experience winter storms, and sub-zero temperatures. The wind outside is literally shaking the apartment building in which I live!)

COMPANIONS

I was very happy to receive in the mail this week a per-release copy of Carson Cooman’s new album, Companions.

This album – which will be released by Divine Art Recordings on both CD and digital download next month – features recordings from Carson’s May, 2022 concert tour of Germany. Among nine excellent works featured on the album is Canzona, a work I composed on Thanksgiving Day, 2020; a piece that sums up the zeitgeist of that year rather well, I think.

I hope you will check out the new album. You can find more about it on the Divine Art website: https://divineartrecords.com/recording/companions-contemporary-organ-music/

A CHRISTMAS GIFT

I want to thank all of you who have subscribed to – or who read – these newsletters. It really means a lot to me. Thus, a small Christmas present from me to you.

This video features Georges Méliès 1900 “short,” The Christmas Dream, accompanied by the electronic music score I composed for it late last year. (The soundtrack was officially published on Electronic Music Film Scores (Volume III)).

(The Christmas Dream (1900), directed by Georges Méliès/Music by Michael Calabris)

This film is one of the most unusual in Méliès’s catalog, but it’s one of my favorites. The scene with the homeless man is my favorite scene in this short film (in this video, this scene is ca. 2:27 – 3:45) In this scene, a homeless man (played by Méliès), trying to escape the snow storm, wanders into a festive hall. When he sees the feast, he asks one of the guests for some food. The guest immediately becomes enraged and demands that the guards remove him. As he is being taken away, the master of the table sees what is happening, and commands that the beggar be brought in. The beggar is frightened, but the master not only gives the man food and drink, he gives him a seat at the head of the table beside himself.

I really appreciate this film’s traditional Christmas values – values of goodwill, cheer, and love. Listening to the soundtrack now – after not having done so in over a year – I realize how much this film touched me. It is clearly reflected in the music.

I hope you enjoy The Christmas Dream, as well as the music I composed for it!


I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a very happy and peaceful 2023!


Thanks for checking out this newsletter!

This newsletter’s featured image is Tessa Rampersad on Unsplash

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