Choral Conniptions: A re-post.

My apologies for a re-run. Things have been a little strange around Redquarters, and we’re trying to sort out if I am having a new allergy sort of thing or what’s going on. The suspicion is allergies to the smoke from Canada et al, plus nerves, but it’s distracting me from blogging.

It was a dark and stormy first rehearsal of the season. Dr. Director is facing a choir gone feral over Winter Break.

Director: “And we’re doing a Whitaker.”

Choir (in unison): “GroooOOOOaaaannnn.”

Director: “Now that’s not fair! And it’s more accessible than the last Whitaker we did.”

Voice from the depths of the Alto Section: “And that’s what you said about the Charles Ives piece too.”

Director: “But that was over ten years ago.”

Basso Profundo: “Choirs never forget.”

It is more accessible. It is also longer and just as hard. And I can’t be the only one hearing the hat tips to Enya and Morten Lauridsen, either, as well as to Randall Thompson.

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Tow Plane and Faure

So, I was early for my glider – flight instructor lesson. The morning felt cool and the winds were light, so I decided to meander around and see what hangars were open to peek into and who was doing what. There was always some one doing something interesting.

As I strolled along between the hangars, I heard very familiar notes. Someone, an excellent bari-tenor someone, was singing part of the Faure Requiem. I moved as silently as possible and eased closer. The manager of the soaring school was under one of the tow planes, looking at some things and wrapping up an oil change. He was singing a capella, and had no idea that anyone might be around. Continue reading

The Neighborhood Trickster

The foxes are out.  I’ve seen them several times this summer, three or four times in the back yard at Redquarters. Apparently we have a cool, shady, and quiet place to loaf, if you are a fox. I’ve also seen them in the early mornings, skulking around, adults and kits both. I almost stepped on a kit one evening as I crossed the end of an alley. We were both a little surprised. They blend into the dirt and dry grass of the alleys very well in the twilight, and I was watching a second kit, trying to stay well clear of him. Continue reading

Paint Your Wagon

The movie was not a box office success. Filming ran over budget, way over time, and let’s face it, there’s a really good reason Clint Eastwood is not famous for his singing ability. The movie is also long.

Two of the songs became famous: “They call the Wind Maria,” and “Wandering Star.” The movie tells the story of the American West, the dirty, corrupt, flash-in-the-pan part of the story.

Any of my readers who have been in the middle of nowhere, and wondering how-in-the-hell you got there and if you’ll ever get out of the hole you dug, can sympathize. And Harve Presnell had a heck of a voice. Good rule of life: never bet against a gambler named Rotten Luck Willie.

I went through a decade where this seemed to be the theme of my life. Lee Marvin’s other main song, “The First Thing You Know” is the anthem of anyone who kept looking over the next hill to see if there’s anything better, and I quote it in jest when talking about the views of the modern environmental movement (“G-d made the mountains/ G-d made the sky./ G-d made the people,/ G-d knows why!”)

The movie came as the great musicals were fading from the screen, which is part of the problem. Length is another difficulty, and that it’s not light and humorous all the way through. Pardner really isn’t cut out to be a miner. The female lead, Elizabeth,  just wants four walls and a roof and a stable life. That’s not the version of the American West that was popular in 1969.

But I grew up listening to the music, and watching it whenever it came on. I really disliked Elizabeth when I was younger, but I grew to understand her. Still don’t agree, though.