Saturday, December 01, 2012

Annette Kruisbrink: Dances 1, 2 and 3 for double bass and guitar

Excerpts from Annette Kruisbrink's fantastive Five Dances for double bass and guitar. 

Go find yourself the album Cirex by Kruisbrink where she plays her music for double bass and guitar with her brother.  It's a fine album and Kruisbrink has composed what I consider to be the largest and most substantial body of chamber music for this pair of instruments.  Time and resources permitting I'm hoping to do a detail analysis with linked Youtube video of Kruisbrink's fantastic and moody minimalist/fusion piece Cirex.  :)  I might have to keep that in store for Chamber Music Week 3 ... or 4. 

duets for trombone and guitar are a bit rare but they do exist.

Then there's Contrapunctus 14 for trombone and guitar.  Yes, THAT Contrapunctus 14.

They do a good job. 

I have been working through sketches for a sonata for tenor and trombone for years and, well, shameless self-promotion here, if I were to contact an ensemble about that sonata when it's done these would be the folks I'd want to contact. 

I've got some testing out of some things to do with my sonatas for guitar with trumpet and for guitar with tuba before I try tackling trombone, French horn and euphonium. 

Alessandro Penezzi e Alexandre Ribeiro (Youtube)

Here's a fun clarinet and guitar duet.

Friday, November 30, 2012

from the Carnival ... "The invisible women bishops of Phillipi"

If you saw the last post and remember that I read Jim West's blog and Scotteriology then you may have worked out what the Carnival is.  Well, here's something from the latest Carnival.

A very lengthy quotation:

I’ve been pondering yesterday’s reading for St Clement. (For me it’s also tomorrow’s reading as I’m preaching at a transferred patronal festival.) It includes these verses from Philippians:
I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. (4:2-3 NRSV)
Here, even more than in many places in Paul, it’s hard to reconstruct the details of the situation that is being taken for granted by Paul and his addressees. However, it seems to me that we can say the following.
  • This touches on the main reasons for the letter. Paul’s appeal to Euodia and Syntyche echoes the language of his appeal in chapter 2 “to be of the same mind” which leads into the famous Christ-hymn.
  • A personal disagreement between these two women seems to mirror, perhaps cause, a disagreement in the life of the church.
  • Their position and their relationship is important enough for Paul to direct much of his argument towards healing it.
  • There is no appeal to any other leader to solve the problem, knock heads together, etc, and there is noticeably no appeal to any man to exercise any authority over these women. Even Paul does not try to make his appeal one to authority, but one to friendship and mutual loyalty.
  • The identity of the loyal companion Paul addresses is unknown. He is, however, a man asked to assist them. There is no male superiority assumed as a right.
  • The women are equated with Clement (traditionally identified as the later bishop of Rome) and all Paul’s fellow-workers who have struggled with him in proclaiming the good news.
The most likely explanation of these observations and deductions from the text is that the women belong to, and are even among the leading figures in, the leadership group of the church. Only a prior ideological commitment by the reader to male leadership alone would make this an “impossibility”. For every other reader, it seems a very plausible – I suggest the most plausible –explanation.

Thoughts?  Invitations to comment at Wenatchee The Hatchet are invariably met with the endless throng of the singing of crickets across the cosmos.  Maybe that's what we deserve for having disabled comments on some of the posts that were most likely to have inspired comments?

Theology and Music, 2 Samuel 18:33 as chant HT Jim West

I remember being surprised when I discovered the priest at the church in Patmos was also the choirmaster. He looked at me, a complete stranger, when I appeared at choir practice, introduced by the hotelier from Chicago, the owner of the hotel where we were staying on that small Greek island in the off-season, February 1997. And he said two words "maggiore, minore"? And I replied with major and minor thirds. I was younger then and I could sing them without wobbling. And he said - "You - sit here!" and directed me to a place beside him where I could receive instruction. I sat through the entire session, watching the others tape the whole rehearsal so they could learn it at home. The priest had not had someone there who could sing and hold the drone - so that was a good job for me, for I could neither read Greek nor read their strange chironomic notation above the text.

But there it is - all Orthodox priests have to be musicians. They continue the liturgical empire. Well - and so do the Anglicans. I have a couple of new projects starting - who knows how long they will take? But I have interested production staff, performers, composers, and arrangers here and all have now been introduced to the performing of the music of the Bible as deciphered by Suzanne Haik Vantoura.

There's quite a bit more but that's the teaser to get you to, I hope, follow the link.

any news about Nikita Koshkin's 24 preludes and fugues for solo guitar?

I heard that Selyutina's been working on recording them and that Editions Margaux is the planned publisher but actual release date or publication date for recordings and scores has been a mystery.  Obviously I'm keen to get both when they become available.  Seeing as it's been a couple centuries since the Well-Tempered Clavier was put together for this kind of achievement to get tackled by a guitarist is unique.

Now while I can appreciate that some people believe that the whole idea of writing in every major and minor key for solo guitar no longer seems relevant in our age I would suggest the opposite may be the case.  To the extent that a steady body of works in all major and minor keys has not had much traction in the guitar this gets to what some might call the question of an inferiority complex among guitarists as performers and composers. 

In other words, to put things in polemical terms, if we never bothered to master musical expression and the development of musical ideas in all keys as happened for the keyboard then there's a sense in which moving along with modern styles is moving along in a way that doesn't mean the same thing it woudl for keyboard literature.  Perhaps it's like jumping on a motorcycle without having ridden a bike.  A guitarist can jump into the modern, anything-goes approach to music or skip over how sonata form and fugue are staples in the early keyboard literature and speak as though we just be happy with the literature we have;  it may not be music that's necessarily as profound as the warhorses of keyboard or string literature but who wants to hear the clangy and loud piano? 

Well, me for one.  I enjoy Angela Hewitt's Bach recordings, for instance.  I've got all the Beethoven sonatas.  Is there some reason we guitarists should not compose in every possible key simply because Schoenberg showed up before Ponce wrote his sonatas?  I don't see how that seems relevant at all.  Let's say for the moment that the guitar was something Segovia wanted to elevate to the level of other instruments.  Whether or not he succeeded could depend on the sort of repertoire that was available, right?  How was that repertoire going to happen (if we eliminate Bach and Albeniz transcriptions) if guitarists as a group scrupulously avoided taking the comprehensive approach to keys that keyboardists tackled centuries ago? 

So whether or not Koshkin's preludes and fugues for solo guitar end up being warhorses in the literature or if they become a curio "almost" doesn't matter.  What I've heard so far is promising.  Whether or not Koshkin uses true countersubjects or has dared to write a double fugue remains to be seen. 

I've read some say that the fugue is a difficult form to tackle for the guitar because it can too often end up sounding like a scholastic exercise rather than real music.  Perhaps we should say "real music" because people have stopped thinking and listening in contrapuntal terms as of longer-ago than pop music.  Berlioz didn't always have the nicest things to say about Bach's work, for instance.  Guitarists can, as a group, have an actually physical aversion to contrapuntal music. :)  But I digress ... as usual. 

Mere Orthodoxy and Rachel Held Evans

As complementarian/egalitarian interaction goes this is almost a unicorn.

These are worth reading and the first because Evans has written that it is one of the first written responses from a complementarian to listen first and disagree in a respectful way. 
Per an earlier post this week I think that blogging "merely" provides an opportunity for the presentation and discussion of ideas.  In most cases this ends up being preaching to a choir at best or self-involved soap-boxing at worst.  That's for "normal" blogging.  But for not-normal blogging there is the sometime possibility that ideas and information can be presented and shared in a way that provides a newer level of informed assessment and decision-making. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Things I Think and things I think about blogging

1. As I end yet another year of blogging , I’m amazed and discouraged at how right I was years ago and how little difference it makes. I knew the internet would become the new Wittenburg door, but I thought minor “reformations” would follow. Didn’t happen…if anything, things are worse in terms of ecclesiastical accountability.

I wasn't around Phoenix Preacher back when that observation was made, that I know of, but if the observation was that simply blogging about things would not change anything then I pretty much agree.  Blogs set up to catalyze change can't accomplish much by themselves.  People have to make decisions and take actions and blogs are almost by definition incapable of doing this merely as blogs.

However, as the blogging community of textual scholars and specialists in biblical and apocryphal literature showed earlier this year, there are things blogging can do.  The irony may be that the little that blogs seem able to do may be the most important things they can do, inform. 

So often blogs are about whatever the latest flash in the pan in blogland may be.  It means that many blogs will have a proverbial fifteen minutes of fame and then those minutes will burn away with the next thing.  Some blogs stick around for the long haul by being able to jump from wave to wave or making waves.  In the blogs I read Rachel Held Evans gets discussed, though for precisely how long is nobody's guess.  Evans could be around for years or decades depending on a host of things nobody can anticipate. 

Helping people make informed decisions and assessments by getting them the best information you can is about the best (and maybe all) a blogger can do.  Well, there's also encouraging and inviting discussion.  This blog may not be the most wonderful blog about facilitating conversation because it deals with a lot of esoteric stuff and I admit the learning curve can be a little steep and unforgiving.  It's not meant to alienate comment or conversation.  I do admit that there are certain kinds of comments and conversations I tend to implicitly discourage but that'd be another post unto itself.

Not as active on the blog these days, obviously. 

the feeling of never being out of the woods

Ever since I was young (as in substantially younger than I am now) I tended to think of myself as a bit of a fuddy duddy.  I wouldn't have said I was an "old soul" because I didn't exactly think I was wise beyond my years and there's that proverb about how you should let another praise you and not yourself.  The phrase I preferred to think of applying to me was (and is) "old at heart" in both bad and good senses of that term.  In the good sense, for me, I found it easier in my teens to relate to and converse with people older than me.  Call it an interest in transforming any potential relationship with someone older, male or female, into at least a possibility for apprenticing in life.

In the bad sense ... well ... perhaps it would be in the form of a kind of pessimism ... .

Maybe pessimism isn't quite strong enough a word, actually.  A friend of mine has joked that if he's like Superman I'm like Batman.  He likes to see the positive side of things and how people are basically good and can be trusted.  Me ... heh heh ... you may have already begun to see the comparison work itself out.  But I'll proceed anyway.  I tend to have a grim view of human nature.  We are not so smart and we are often dumbest when we are sure we're brilliant.  We are not as rational as we think we are in our most "rational" moments. 

There are things in life where how things work out can seem to be the opposite of what might be implied.  I've joked that Arminians emphasize how free we are as individuals in the ordo salutis but they can be emphatic about the need to find God's best will if you've grown up in Wesleyan settings of any stripe (let alone a Pentecostal/charismatic scene were working out your divine destiny/spiritual gift/place can be obsessive.  Calvinists, notoriously, posit that you can't possibly choose God of your own accord and that the Lord must intervene on your behalf for you to even make a choice.  Yet many Calvinists go through life blissfully unconcerned about what, exactly, God might want them to do.  So long as it's not something expressly forbidden in the Bible and you want to do it, don't bother working out whether or not you "should" do it.  If it works, great, if not, well, that happens. 

By extension a counterintuitive application of my kinda gloomy view of the human condition is a desire to give individuals the benefit of a doubt.  Maybe I'm wrong about something and maybe this other person knows all kinds of stuff I don't.  One of my siblings described this disposition in contrast to people who are optimistic and trusting about people but become withdrawn and upset when hurt or disappointed.  This optimistic sort could be described as a sensitive optimist, where as the sibling and I could be described as "friendly pessimists".  We have a view of the human condition generally that can be grim ... but since you're here and all that's no reason we can't get to know each other.  As I put it to a friend years ago, I tend to anticipate the worst so that when the worst doesn't happen I can be pleasantly surprised.  The friend said he always assumed the best whether for outcomes or expectations of people and that this was why he would get so morally outraged over his disappointment.  Moral outrage is the sort of thing that falters the more a boy cries wolf so I'm not usually eager to get angry about people.  THings ... I can have a bad temper about.

Well, part of this disposition is a feeling that you're never really out of the woods.  The trees may have thinned enough that you can see a prarie or a lake.  You might even come to the lake but you're technically still not out of the woods.  Even in my teens and twenties the inevitably of death was not something I was able to put out of mind for long.  Life is short and fragile.  I had ambitions and dreams and so on like many a teenager would but in my teens the spectre of End Times stuff meant that any ideas for a lasting legacy were mooted by End Times stuff.  I may have cast off dispensationalist futurism in my mind but perhaps at some emotional level the feeling that everything a person says or does can get swept away into nothingness by the end of life on earth can stick with you even when you don't necesarily want it that way.

I've had a rough few years, possibly some of the worst years I've had.  I don't stop considering, from time to time, that things can still get worse and that death could be around the corner.  In the setting I used to be in I heard a lot, and I mean a lot, about people building legacies.  From someone who went through Ecclesiastes about three times the emphasis on legacy seems weird because Ecclesiastes goes on at some length about how death destroys legacies overnight and names are forgotten in scarcely two generations, maybe even within the generation itself.  But adventures in Ecclesiastes is for some other time.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

and another HT to Jim West: JEsus and the Jehovah's Witnesses cartoon

Let's just say you don't really have to be able to read German to get this one.

Jim West makes a passionate case against X-mas and gets into the Greek alphabet

... X (the English letter) is not equal to Χ (the Greek letter). Ξ is. Further, really, how many people know the Greek letter Χ and use it, and know that they’re using it in reference to Christ? Finally, the abbreviation for χριστος in the nomina sacra is χρ with the line above, never, to my recollection, is it simply χ (though I’m happy to be shown the error of my ways if someone can provide an example). ...

As Christian bloggers go this would be the part where we nod thoughtfully and discuss how irenic West's post was.   After all, that's what you're supposed to do in the Christian blogosphere, right? ;-)