March 31 - Listen! Pan Wakes...

Happy to have Harriet back, but had to blitz to school anyway to record Janet Lohr -- last of our six ladies -- in Cats, Dogs, and Divas.  Like Cynthia and Suzanna, she got it all down in one three-hour session. Still need to have Sarah, Sandy, and Maggie back for a round two, then will mix with advises from Doug Michael, and perhaps Tim White and others.

At home in evening, learned how to put cover art in iTunes, for albums Early Oboe / Early Voice, 

Instruments of Deconstruction, 

Contrary Comotion,

Desert Muse, 

Bass and Range, 

Lost in Place, 

Mice and Men, 

Three Wired Systrums, 

Henry Miller in Brooklyn, 


The Bald Soprano, and

Cats, Dogs, and Divas.

March 30 - Echoes of Time

Learned how to do photos in Microsoft Word, now that I have a computer that can handle such items, so was able to provide a front cover and interior distorted photos of George Crumb,

plus some similar of Erling and

moi, for back issue printing of 21st-Century Music, June 2005. Sent that off to press, in Marin, as well as Act I of Waiting for Godot...

Harriet's on the road and it will be good to have her back in town tomorrow...

Also recorded Mice and Men, Act II k "Glad to meet you."...

March 29 - Elephants, Dogs, Cats, Horses...

Recorded Mice and Men, Act II j ("It's brighter than a bitch") -- last week's recording of I'm lookin' for Curley turned out to be h rather than j....

Also did a new version of Lifespan with animal samples added to Voice I and II, assigned to specific notes on the Halion synthesizer, for intriguing zoological madness...

March 28 - Amidst Elations

Doug Michael made his own mix of II. Between Depression from Cats, Dogs, and Divas -- very interesting!

Have secured Potrero Hill Neighborhood House for first orchestral-vocal Halfway Mark rehearsal, and recorded Mice and Men, Act II, i ("I don't like this place")

March 27 - Sounding Off

Wrote up March 25 Marin Symphony show for Commuter Times and 21st-Century Music....

Sound Waves

From whence inspiration? Without or within? The three composers featured on a recent subscription performance by the Marin Symphony (March 25) at San Rafael's Veterans Auditorium were all inspired by sources outside of themselves.

In the case of Claude Debussy and local composer Mark Volkert, the source was the sea. For Maurice Durufle, it was waves of sound stemming from that old fountain of inspiration, Gregorian chant. All right, maybe that's a bit of a fishy connection. But program annotator Jon Kochavi made the metaphoric plunge, so I'll swim with it, too.

While the grand Durufle Requiem sounds like a work from distant chronological shores, it was written in 1947. The actual melodic content is by-and-large derived/inspired from the traditional plainsong melodies of the Gregorian rite, which makes for fascinating, intriguing, at times almost surreal, cross-stylistic references, particularly for those familiar with the source material.

The surface textures and psychology, however, are as much directly inspired by Gabriel Faure's beautiful 1920 setting รข€“ for this is a comfort-and-peace requiem, rather than a fire-and-brimstone one (the latter type being exemplified by the blood- stirring and fearful renditions of Hector Berlioz, Giuseppe Verdi, and Igor Stravinsky). As such, the composition in question, while gorgeously reverent, is somewhat soporific, with nonetheless radiant contributions, in this case, by mezzo-soprano Katherine Tier, bass Matthew Trevino, and the Marin Symphony Chorus. By jettisoning, as Faure did, the dangerous "Dies Irae" ("Day of Wrath") text, the weight of the work falls later, in the "Libera me" ("Deliver me"), where the full component of singers and players were able to achieve a heavenly sheen.

The rest of the program was on this side of the cosmos, in the watery depths of Volkert's Songs from the Sea and Debussy's impressionist-classic La Mer (The Sea). Volkert was indeed up to the task of oceanic orchestration, providing color at every keel and haul of the two-movements-that-are-really-four entitled Storm at Night. Aurora and The World Below the Brine. Epilogue.

If it was difficult to grasp the why “ hey, so likewise is the aquatic realm in general“ and the Debussy bobs in related impressionistic waves, leaving some listeners structurally at sea. But this voyage, navigated by Music Admiral Alasdair Neale, found lucid passage, and left auditors keenly expecting further delightful musical ports of call.

March 26 - Halfway Looming


Recorded Mice and Men, Act II "Seems to me" and produced yet another mix of the five-singer Cats, Dogs, and Divas.

Then off to SF for first rehearsal of Lisa Scola Prosek's beautiful-and-intriguing (as is usual for her) Belfagor with Eliza O'Malley and Gar. Did the excerpt, of course, with SFCCO last month, and am looking forward to complete production of this Renaissance Italian tale of the Devil and his even more devilish human wife...

Good to see video-guy Jakob just after -- he's got a video of Business As Usual, gas mask, etc., which I eagerly anticipate -- visuals may be used in Lisa's new opera.

Also produced a bizarre Chuck-Close-esque visual for Halfway Mark -- first shot taken with the built-in laptop camera, w/ "pencil" special effect. Mark Steidel and a number of others seem to like it, so we'll see...

March 25 - Shots in the Light

Coming along with vocal rehearsals of Halfway Mark, including the formalizing of the extra vocal components of the Overture ("Rats!") to The Pied Piper of Hamelin -- missing Harriet at rehearsal, etc. -- she is in Seattle visiting Tisha, Joe, Claire, Nathan, Marek, et. al.

Discovered that Goat Hall has easy wireless access. With Diablo Valley College, seems like everywhere but home has convenient internet...

Stopped by Erling Wold's afterwards -- he was able to load in a few more programs --

very grateful to have technical prowess of Erling and the folks at the lab...

Then off to Marin Symphony for Commuter Times and 21st-Century Music...

March 24 - Towards Completion

Spent quite a lot of time importing CD's into iTunes and editing in DSP Quatro. Made a better mix of the quintet version of Cats, Dogs, and Divas -- also sent some Word files over wireless from old computer to new (the computers are in same room but not directly connected -- and so far only have proper internet at school). Started an article for 21st-Century Music re the Complete Crumb Edition...

March 23 - Depending on the Kindness

Doug Michael installed a copy of a CD-editing program such that I could spend quite a bit of the afternoon working on Halfway Mark updates entirely on the Macbook...

March 22 - Life As We Know It

Today was the big day -- computerwise.

Went to the Apple Store in Walnut Creek -- no one seemed to have the address, but assured me it was right along Main Street. Parked seemingly at one end of the business district and proceeded to walk blocks in the wrong direction....

Finally arrived to open doors, t-shirted salespeople, and white-and-a-few black Macs. In the spirit of Henry Ford, you can get any color you want so long as it's the color they want. No matter. And despite other quirks it's the way to go, and after c. 16 years of PCs I have seen the light and am not looking back, and other cliches...

Walked out with a slightly-up-from-the-bottom-end Macbook, plus free printer-scanner-copier (after rebate) and accesories. Wow!

Went directly from there to school, with the computer still in the box when I arrived for Thursday quiz with my theory students. Thereafter, music tech faculty gathered around, as mothers drawn to a newborn.

Tim White did the initial delivery, setting up wireless internet w/ the school's connection, then Doug Michael got the school Microsoft Office going and configured the printer.

Another welcome to the current century!

March 21 - Opening Gambits

Burned out an entire rough mix of Cats, Dogs, and Divas with our five-of-six....

Stopped at Fry's to buy a blank CD tower + sleeves -- still looking at PCs and Macs....

By now, pretty convinced to purchase a Mac, thanks to advice from Erling Wold, plus the folks at the DVC Music Technology Center, plus the PC salesman (non-commission, definitely) who allowed that if he were in the market, he'd buy a Mac!

March 20 - It Really Works

Burned out a quick work-in-progress mix of Cats, Dogs, and Divas finale Brunnhilde, with now five of our six singers (Suzanna Mizell, Sarah Huchison, Sandy Castleberry, Maggie Tennenbaum, and Cynthia Weyuker -- still looking forward to recording Janet Lohr, and finishing second sessions with Sarah, Sandy, and Maggie).

Several Diablo Valley College students heard the piece between classes and were amazed / amused -- concensus was more instruments in the soft passages and less in the loud, and will adjust accordingly.....

March 19 - Post-Raphaelites

Prepared and recorded Mice and Men Act II f, and continued to ponder notebook computer issues.

Additionally, Suzanna Mizell was here to record all of her Cats, Dogs, and Divas vocals in two-and-a-half hours! Beautiful!

March 18 - Hail Fellows and Fellowettes

Third vocal rehearsal for Halfway Mark, with Kat and Loren joining the mix -- ensembles coming along and solos distributed....

Lunch with Steven Clark and Harriet, discussing Mark-and-Steven show at Oakland Metro in August....

March 17 - Smiles and Megaphones

Talked to Crystal on the phone today -- perhaps she can make Halfway Mark...

Prepared Mice and Men, Act II, e ("Seen my old man"), and recorded.

Cynthia Weyuker made it to the lab to record all of her Cats, Dogs, and Divas vocals in one three-hour session.  Wow!  Suzanna Mizell will be here Monday, and will meet with Janet Lohr tomorrow during third Halfway Mark vocal rehearsal to schedule her recording....

March 16 - Taking Care of Needs

Doug Michael played the "orgy" version of Cats, Dogs, and Divas, XVI "The Proposition," as sung by Maggie Tennenbaum, in Diablo Valley College's Music 173 class last night to positive effect.....

Prepared Mice and Men, Act II d ("I wasn't listenin') for publication and recorded same.

Also did a new mix (with much thanks to Doug) of Cats..., III. "Between Depression," with vocals of Sarah Hutchison and Sandy Castleberry (other cast members to be added later) and five panned trains, plus chorus, compression, FX channel reverb, and a bit of master volume work.

Have posted latter work-in-progress....

March 15 - Beware the Ears and Ayes

Recorded Mice and Men, Act I j ("I'm lookin' for Curley") and Waiting for Godot, Act I, XVIII...

March 14 - Back! Turn!

Recorded Mice and Men, Act II b ("Finally quit") and c ("I wrote Murray and Ready"), plus Waiting for Godot, Act I XVII. "Leave him in peace"

March 13 - Three-Quarter Way

Wrote up the Halfway Mark program notes, personnel, and texts early this morn.  Happy to see the show included in 21st-Century Forum's (or is it still 20th-Century Forum's?) monthly listings....

March 12 - Listening In

More singers yesterday for second Halfway Mark vocal rehearsal -- folks from last week + Suzanna Mizell, Becky Haupt, David Chavez, Christopher Lujan, and Bianca Showalter, who actually showed up after, due to a mix up, but we were able to rehearse a bit anyway.  Then off to the salon -- a drag performer, electric guitarist, Allan Crossman doing his Amazing Reverso routine, Diana Landau in an excellent rendition of What a Terrible, Awful Movie from Leonard Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti, Harriet engagingly declaiming the T.S. Eliot Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock to accompaniment by accordionist Sharon Walters, my sing-and-play of Sylvia Dryer, with Diana joining in on the touch-tone coda... quite a mixed bag....

Home in the morning orchestrating XVII. of Waiting for Godot.

March 11 - Across Distance and Time

Burning CD's late for second Halfway Mark vocal rehearsal at noon today at Goat Hall, then jumping into a salon at Sharon Walters's house to perform Sylvia Dryer from San Rafael News.

March 10 - Rich, Popular

A Springtime Romance concert of the San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra at Old First Church in SF went very well.  Michael McDonagh will write review for 21ST-CENTURY MUSIC, and will post here as well.

March 9 - Block of Ages

Had to blitz home right after class to work on final installment -- Opera in the Dark section -- of Halfway Mark, then San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra dress rehearsal in SF at Old First Church...

March 8 - The View

Still evaluating laptop possibilities; distributing Lost Beyond parts of Halfway Mark at third Springtime Romance rehearsal of SFCCO tonight at Potrero Hill Neighborhood House.

Will record Waiting for Godot, Act I, XVI. before heading off to San Francisco....

March 7 - Through a Glass Brightly

Took some pics of videos of Henry Miller in Brooklyn,  

The Bald Soprano, and  

Animal Opera -- pretty rough, but having their own intrigue and interest...

Recording Mice and Men Act II, b ("Finally quit") and Waiting for Godot XV. "Bozzo Gozzo Pozzo" today, then off to laptop shop at Fry's Pleasant Hill.

Old First Church issued their press release in August, including below...

Friday, April 20, 2007 AT 8 PM
Halfway Mark, a 50th Anniversary Retrospective

The career of one of the most prolific, influential, and protean figures in the local classical community is celebrated by musicians from the S. F. Composers Chamber Orchestra and Goat Hall Productions in "Mark Alburger's 50th Anniversary Retrospective," a concert devoted to that author, musician, recording artist and eclectic composer whose postminimal, postpopular, and postcomedic sensibilities have produced over 800 individual pieces, including 20 operas, 6 song cycles and 9 symphonies. On April 20 a Who's Who of local artists performs what he calls, "Four syncretist compositions, representing four decades of my activity as a composer."

March 6 - For the Balance

Wrote the Adams up in the a.m. for Commuter Times, and will eventually post on 21st-Century Music as well, of course. Nice to have also seen Rachel Condry at the show...

Four Trees in Two Acts

John Adams's "A Flowering Tree," which received its American premiere from
March 1-3 at Davies Hall with the San Francisco Symphony under the composer's
baton, is the Daphne myth times four. Based on texts by A.K. Ramanujan, this
Indian tale far out-arbors the Greek story in multiple transformations of the
young maiden Kumudha ("Koo-moon-ya") across the vegetative divide. And "four"
is the informing number in this fecund and fragrant work that proves a garden
of vocal delights for soprano Jessica Rivera, tenor Russell Thomas, bass Eric
Owens, and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus.

With intriguing direction by long-time Adams collaborator Peter Sellars, "A
Flowering Tree" took root on a split Davies stage with orchestra and balcony
playing area to the audience left, against three circular-elevated platforms to
the right, somewhat reminiscent of the SFS staging of Richard Wagner's "Flying
Dutchman" in recent memory. But unlike "Fliegende Hollander," the Adams was,
rather than a semi-staged opera, more of an opera-oratorio along the lines of
Igor Stravinsky's "Oedipus Rex," complete with a narrator (Owen's sung role)
and a Greek chorus which does not participate in the action, but rather
comments and dramatizes, even to the point of taking up what in other contexts would
be lines of the principal players (again the I.S. connection).

This abstract approach was reinforced by the use of delightful doppelganger
Indonesian dancers (Rusini Sidi, Eko Supriyanto, and Astri Kussuma Wardani),
setting up one of several cultural dichotomies in the work (English solo
libretto, Tamil folk tale, Javanese movement), to which was added a further
multiculturalism in the use of Spanish throughout for the choral component. While
Adams explains the latter usage due to the presence of the vocal group Schola
Cantorum de Caracas at the Vienna premiere (November 14, 2006), this could also be
on account of the composer's success in setting Spanish in "El Nino."

And the music? Superb. Adams's command of the contemporary orchestra is
second to none (including the demonstrative horn homage to the Wagner "Rhinegold"
that opens Act II of "Tree"), and he writes some of the most engaging choral
music this side of G.F. Handel. In the spirit of Claudio Monteverdi, Adams
has his recitatives well in hand, but also as in the first great opera
composer's work, arias and the like are relatively scarce. Orchestra, chorus,
recitative, aria -- three out of four at the top of his game.

As in Camille Saint-Saens's "Symphony No. 3," where two movements proved to
each subdivide, resulting in a more characteristic four-section symphonic
structure, so Adams's acts each divide into flowerings on behalf of the mother, the
prince, the evil sister-in-law, and the happy reunion. The music is
comparatively light on direct Indian references, save for the sinuous wind lines heard
in the transformations and a boffo chorus that utilizes tabla-drum speech
rhythms. Often the engaging orchestral components seem sprung from another world
free of direct connections to vocal melodies or old-style functional bass

The "Flores" chorus of Act I and the lovely aria-becoming-duet in Act II are
among other highlights, which also include the final crescendi that end each
act. The audience was captivated, and -- if the work falls somewhere between
"Nixon and China" and "Ceiling/Sky" on the one hand, and "The Death of
Klinghoffer" and "Dr. Atomic" on the other, with respect to tunefulness (at least in
the solo voice capacity) -- "A Flowering Tree" is yet another strong branch in
Adams's impressive operatic Eden.

March 5 - Expectations

Recorded Mice and Men, Act II, A ("Boss was 'spectin' you last night"), then home to rendezvous with Harriet and our techie Diane to explore laptop options....

Found some Pied Piper and Poulenc pics, will post....

March 4 - Singers!

Happy to have 10 singers (including Marilyn Pratt, Eliza O'Malley, Lisa McHenry, Janet Lohr, Jane Goldsmith, Harriet March Page, William Loney, Karl Coryat, Douglas Mandell) for the first vocal rehearsal of Halfway Mark.  Read Missa "The a Deux": Kyrie and Aerial Requiem: Agnus Dei, plus a little Pied Piper of Hamelin Rats! Overture, and started to match vocalists with solos.

Second rehearsal of SFCCO Spring Romance in evening, with selections shaping up....

March 3 - You Got That Right

A pleasure to record much of Cats, Dogs, and Divas with Sarah Hutchison and Sandy Castleberry today (specifically II-IV, XIV, XIX-XX, XXII-XXIII)!  Also recording Mice and Men, Act II prelude, then home to distribute parts for section two of the Halfway Mark show.

March 2 - Where, When, Why?

Nice first rehearsal of SFCCO last night -- strong repertory of Lisa Scola Prosek music from Belfagor w/ Eliza O'Malley, Maria Mikheyenko, Aurelio Viscarra, and Micah Epps; Erling Wold's Baron Ochs (a piece from c. 1983!), Chris Carrasco's The Mind Suite; Alexis Alrich's Marimba Concerto: II; Loren Jones's Dancing on the Brink of the World: IV, V, VI; and Katie Wreede's Children's Garden.  Lisa had a photographer there, so perhaps we can post....

Off to Marin soon, then SF tonight to review premiere of John Adams's Flowering Tree.  Owen Lee will be there, too, with an old flame...

Finishing off recording the conclusion of Act I  Mice and Men, before heading out...

March 1 - Halfway Halfway

Spent a significant part of the morning getting the music ready for the Early Instruments of Comotion section of Halfway Mark.  Hope to record Mice and Men, Act I, K ("With us, it ain't like that") before heading off to San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra rehearsal at Potrero Hill Neighborhood House this evening.