Composer Dirk 1

Classical Caber: “Eclogue No. 4”

It’s been a while since I’ve posted one of Dirk’s compositions, but since it’s the first Monday of the new year, Dirk and I want to start the year off right by sharing another one with you! Posted above is Eclogue No. 4, one of a series of nine eclogues that my hubby has written. Here’s Dirk’s explanation of its origins:

openquote
The Eclogues were my earliest experiments in orchestration, each using a particular variation on a chamber orchestra of not more than 24 or 25 players. Each was based loosely on a literary source, usually a poem. Eclogue No. 4, which I wrote in 1992, draws on a sonnet by Edna St. Vincent Millay:

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

All of the musical material is derived from a “folk song” tune I’d written to approximate a setting of the poem, but this tune isn’t played in its entirety until presented by the English horn, all alone, at nearly the end of the piece. Until that final solo, Eclogue No. 4 is a slow “thinning” of material for most of its duration, reflecting the increasing sense of loneliness of the text.

Only three of Dirk’s Eclogues have ever been recorded: Nos. 4, 6, and 7. (I’ve already posted Eclogue No. 6, a lush pastoral piece that reminds me of our recent trip to Ireland.) We’re exploring the possibility of starting a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to record the other six, and then releasing the entire collection on iTunes and CD… watch this space for details. In the meantime, check out Dirk’s other compositions on SoundCloud, and click here to share his SoundCloud page with your Facebook friends!

Eclogue No. 4 Image

I think this picture sums up the themes in Eclogue No. 4 rather perfectly, don’t you?


Dirk the Composer 2

Classical Caber: “The Good Morrow”

“You know what I’d really like for Christmas?” I offhandedly told Dirk at the beginning of December last year. “Write something for me.” Meaning a piece of music, of course. Dirk was in the middle of a creative drought so I thought the request might encourage him to start composing again.

Little did I know that my talented hubby was already hard at work on my Christmas present; he’d been writing a setting for bass (voice) and piano of The Good Morrow by the English Renaissance poet John Donne, which he gave me on Christmas morning. Dirk hasn’t recorded it yet; maybe that’ll be my birthday present . The first time I heard it, I cried. Dirk had started writing again, and the first thing he’d written was for me. It was beautiful, even in computer-generated form. Here are the lyrics:

I wonder by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we loved? were we not wean’d till then?
But suck’d on country pleasures, childishly?
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?

And now good-morrow to our waking souls,
Which watch not one another out of fear;
For love all love of other sights controls,
And makes one little room an everywhere.
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone;
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown;
Let us possess one world; each hath one, and is one.

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
Where can we find two better hemispheres
Without sharp north, without declining west?
Whatever dies, was not mix’d equally.

If our two loves be one, or thou and I
Love so alike that none can slacken, none can die.

In celebration of my third anniversary as a Titan exclusive, I’m happy to share my hubby’s setting of The Good Morrow with you! (You can play it in the embedded player above, or click here to play it at SoundCloud.) And it’s not the only anniversary celebration I’ve got planned… stay tuned for more good stuff later this week!

Dirk the Composer 2

 

TheGoodMorrow 01 Small

TheGoodMorrow 02 Small

TheGoodMorrow 03 Small

TheGoodMorrow 04 Small

TheGoodMorrow 05 Small

Bar Harbor

The Return of Classical Caber! Mount Desert Island Suite, Movement 4: Bar Harbor Rondo

It’s the return of Classical Caber! By popular demand, here’s another selection from my hubby’s Mount Desert Island Suite… the fourth and final movement, entitled Bar Harbor Rondo. (I’d previously posted the third movement, Beach and Sandpipers, which has proven to be one of Dirk’s most popular works to date.) Here’s what Dirk wrote about the MDI Suite, which he composed in 2001:

openquoteThe MDI Suite was written by commission for the sadly now defunct Penobscot Bay Chamber Music Festival in Bar Harbor, Maine. The music is simpler than much of what I write, partly because I anticipated very little rehearsal time and I wanted something easy for busy musicians to grasp. The four movements reflect four quatrains of a poem by Cora Millay (mother of Edna St. Vincent Millay) reflecting on different aspects of Mount Desert Island in her home state of Maine; the first depicts the gulls wheeling over the rocks and spray at the coast; the second, the owls in the quiet old-growth pine forests. This third is of sandpipers dodging the ripples on the sand at the water’s edge, and the last conveys the bustle of downtown Bar Harbor. This piece remains close to my heart as an impression of the sort of Maine coastline I grew up on and which is still home to me in many ways.”

We hope you enjoy this second installment!
 
Bar Harbor

Downtown Bar Harbor

 

Composer Dirk 2

Classical Caber: Piano Miniature No. 2, “Reveur”

If you’ve seen my Facebook page lately, you’ll know that I just finished my taxes. As anyone who’s self-employed will tell you, corralling all the necessary information for your tax return is a very stressful experience. Dirk once collected 37 W-2s and 1099s in a single year! This year I ended up with a nice refund, a sizable headache, and a dire need to relax.

Thank goodness for my hubby Dirk’s music. He’s in Orlando this weekend filming a scene for Bound Muscle, but listening to his Piano Miniatures gave me the release I needed to put the stressful afternoon behind me. Here’s one of my favorites of the bunch, his Piano Miniature No. 2, “Reveur” (meaning “Dreamy”):“Reveur” is the second in a series of 24 miniatures, none longer than 3 minutes. Dirk describes the piece as follows:

openquoteNo. 2 is principally built around the harmonies. The game was making as many harmonies as possible using as many unchanging notes, particularly the bottom note in those chords, as possible. The tune uses a similar idea, meandering a little further away each time but generally returning to the same notes at the pauses in the phrases.”

Twelve of Dirk’s miniatures have already been recorded; we are hoping to eventually raise sufficient funds to record the remaining twelve and release them all as an album. We’re considering starting a Kickstarter campaign, actually… more on that in a bit. In the meantime, I’m thrilled to report that the final hurdle in releasing Dirk’s music on iTunes has finally been cleared; watch for an official announcement very soon! (You can use the “Subscribe to My Blog” option on the right side of this page to be notified of any new posts, by the way.)

Dirk Blog Image (720 Crop)

Classical Caber: Cuban Dance No. 1, “Valszante”


 
It’s Classical Caber Monday… on a Sunday! I was a day late getting the flute sonata to you guys last week, so I thought I’d make it up to you by being a day early this week. Here’s my hubby Dirk’s brooding-yet-playful Cuban Dance No. 1, “Valszante” (or “waltz-like”), the first in a series of pieces he calls the Danzas Cubanas:

openquoteThe Cuban Dances were written for Eddie Frigola, a rather awesome clarinetist I met my first couple days playing with the Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps in NYC. He was sexy (still is!) and smart (Harvard!) and astonishingly innocent. We had a highly memorable torrid week-long affair before he left for Madrid to resume his post-grad studies. At one point during that week we sat down to play, me at the piano and he with his clarinet, and somehow we discovered ourselves improvising a habañera. He told me about the guajira, a dance form I’d not heard of before. The seed was planted, and maybe four years later, now living in Los Angeles, he received a copy of his Danzas Cubanas.

On a related note… Dirk and I are working with a digital distribution service called CD Baby to make his music available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify, and a number of other digital providers. We just have a couple of “t”s and “i”s to cross and dot, and then we’ll be ready. Watch for the official announcement soon!