Thursday, October 27, 2005

Picking up, and Examining, the Pieces

So, sadly, the tour has been cancelled -- all but two shows. It's been difficult, but everyone is still highly optimistic about the show's future, and the intention is to continue to build awareness of it, only city-by-city this time, instead of taking on all of North American in one large, indigestible bite.

Jack and Tommy have been extremely honest with their base about what happened. It seems that people are very forgiving when there is no artifice, only honesty. I've been skimming the VGL boards, and, generally, there seems to be an empathy from those people who are the ardent lovers of the show. There were feelings of betrayal in the beginning, but I think they are seeing how little Tommy and Jack had to do with the final decision to cut (and also the decision to postpone in the summer) and are demonstrating support for them.

Meanwhile, Jack took off today for Seattle. His conducting teacher phoned me last night after his coaching session to tell me how brilliant he thinks my husband is. What a lovely man. (Both of them. Jack, and his conducting coach, the wonderful Brad Keimach.)

Also, Gracie just announced that she'd like to sing at the shows in Seattle and Vancouver. Go figure. She's been insisting that she's done performing for good since July (which I whole-heartedly stood by) and now, she's ready for the glory all over again.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Distance Between Altar and Podium -- Apparently Exactly 10 Years!

Good thing I know how to peruse an orchestral score. With Jack down at Tommy's, I'm getting phone calls to check things on the scores and feed information to them down there. While this is relatively simple and purely mechanical, not requiring any insight whatsoever, I am pleased to be able to help out.

We fly out to Seattle on Saturday (Gracie and I, that is. Jack will already be there). Here's hoping that we make it in time for the 7pm show. We'll really be cutting it close to the bone. That night is our 10 year anniversary. The whole thing is a little surreal. Trying to understand the concept of one decade being a mere chapter in my life, while I remember clear as a bell thinking that achieving 10 years of age would in and of itself be miraculous. I could not imagine anything beyond my tenth year, that being the absolute conceptual age wall beyond which my thoughts of the future could not penetrate. And here I am walking into my ten-year anniversary in just a few days. And, what's more, it's on the opening night of my husband's show, with this being his first night on a podium in front of a live audience.

Jack is a skilled and emotional conductor, and I can't wait to see him shine on that stage. On our anniversary. Our tenth one.

What a wonderful man.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Sound of Music

Last night we a saw a still very vigorous Itzhak Perlman playing at Walt Disney Music Hall. He played the Barber Violin Concerto, Op. 14. The entire concerto was positively lush and luxurious. During the second movement I decided to try to find and analyze the score, because the melody sings so beautifully I felt that it should actually be sung. I'm thinking of working the melody into a song during the next few days. But the last movement, the Presto in Moto Perpetuo, was positively astonishing. Mr. Perlman's virtuosity is as explosive as ever. The whole thing seemed to be in 4/4, with sextuplets running all the way through at breakneck speed. What a thrill to be able to see him play live! (I love music.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Melismas in the Rain

It continued to rain in my bedroom all last night and this morning. It's really dampened the excitement of an LA rain for me. As it were. <-(And I apologize for that. Sincerely.)

I'm trying to put together a new service for our downtown temple, and have found a great band, Human Life Index, whom we will be hiring to work with us. They are an interesting rock and roll outfit consisting of an electric guitar player, who also plays ethnic string instruments like oud and balalaika, a hard-hitting drummer, and an electric violinist and cellist. Not your usual temple fare.

We're trying to pull together new pieces that fit their style better, and that will reflect the intensity that we're trying to bring to the service. The camp-oriented songs that we do at the Brentwood venue serve their purpose there quite nicely, but need to be reconsidered for this one. I'm hoping to incorporate the earthy, hassidic pieces, or sephardic ones, and hope that those on the receiving end find this musical approach as inspiring as I do.

Bring on the melismas! They feel the most human to me.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Singin' in the Rain

Still bone-tired after the marathon. Mercifully, I haven't noticed one bit of vocal fatigue since Thursday. My right foot still is aching, but my back feels fine now. After tomorrow I have three days off. My regular Tuesday, Wednesday for Sukkot, and my regular Thursday. How much music can I write in those days? Gracie has Tuesday and Wednesday off as well, so I will have to work around her social whirl to try to get something accomplished.

Meanwhile, I am falling in love with Death Cab for Cutie . First of all, those guys really aren't lookers, and that makes them even more attractive to me. And they aren't kids either. You can tell from their insightful and subtly sophisticated compositions. The production is wonderful as well. Those vocal octaves get me every time.

It actually rained today, and, if it weren't for the simultaneous rainfall in my bedroom, it would have felt like a perfect day, weather-wise. I like the closeness and cosiness of a rainy day. Southern California is not an optimal climate zone for a gloom-lover like myself. When the rainy days come, I really relish them.

Jack is hunkered down, honing his conducting for the show. All the craziness is starting again, and he'll be going in a little over a week to begin rehearsals. Stay tuned for more lunacy...

Friday, October 14, 2005

Have you been served?

So, the days of Awe are mercifully over. My right foot is rather swollen and sore from standing on it too long yesterday at Yom Kippur services. I'm deeply tired, but I don't feel like I need to be hospitalized like last year. I'm realizing that not climbing onto the bimah with fever and the flu kind of helps in the aftermath of that kind of marathon.

I thought it all went well. The Kol Nidre service still is intimidating. It's so incredibly reverential, and that's the one service that people seem to universally feel a spiritual longing to attend. Doing justice to it can feel overwhelming. My heart still feels like it's going to pound out of my chest during the introductory measures of the Kol Nidre prayer itself, even though I know the piece intimately.

[On Rosh Hashana day, some eleven days ago, I was wandering down in the dressing rooms before the service began, and saw affixed to the wall Robert Plant's call sheet. He had been the last artist to play the room before we came in to do our services. I asked the sound guy if I could take it, and it lay in between my sheets of aliyot and shofar blowing assignments, just for contrast I suppose.]

All I really wanted to do was to stop thinking about the sacredness of the moment, so that I could actually feel the sacredness of the moment. Being aware of it seems to bleed all of the connection to it completely away, as the task has such gravity. It's quite a mental trick, forgetting what you are doing, so that you can be perfectly aware of what you're doing. I did have moments when I knew that I was utterly enveloped in the experience, and in expressing for the community all of their angst and sorrow and hope so that their prayers could rise to where they needed to go.

I feel happy, and a bit hollowed out from the whole thing. As the Cantor, you must scrape out every bit of your insides to pour into the service in order to, well, serve.