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Under the Moon

 

“By the time she had finished unburdening herself, someone had turned off the moon” ― Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

Quite by accident I find myself reading, or having recently read, two stories about the destruction of the moon.  In the first story the moon basically dies of old age although it’s strongly suggested that this process was hastened by the increasingly mercenary attitude of humans.  Having lost a certain sense of romance in their continuing addiction to blind consumerism, humans no longer appreciate the moon and it wastes away and dies.

In the other story the moon just suddenly blows up one day for no apparent reason that anyone can discover.   There’s no sound and no fury, it just blows up and where there was a moon there are now seven distinct chunks of former moon.

The seven moon chunks hold the former moon’s orbit so at first it seems like everything will be alright but then scientists figure out that the moon chunks will strike each other over and over again making smaller and smaller chunks many of which will rain down on the Earth until eventually there will be a continuous rain of former moon chunks that will wipe out all life on the planet and create a system of dust particle rings like Saturn has.

The world’s leaders have to tell everyone that they’re going to die horrible deaths within the next two years. Unless you vote straight ticket ha ha.  But seriously no, everyone is doomed.

They then choose the smartest and most useful people they can find to blast into space and live in a space station for two thousand years until things calm down and they can come back to Earth and start over again, which would be like stretching your legs after the world’s longest road trip.

The first story recently inspired a piece of music but I made a vow long ago never to write disaster music so I’m staying away from the second as inspiration and reading it merely for enjoyment although honestly it’s a bit more about how the space station works than I would like and not so much about how seven-plus billion people would handle the knowledge that they have less than two years to live which I have to admit is more interesting to me than the inner workings of a space station designed to last two thousand years though I can see why for some engineering-minded people that would be the interesting part so I hardly fault the author.

At any rate the first story is the Daughters of the Moon by Italo Calvino and it’s part of his Cosmicomics collection of short stories which I first read in college thanks to a teacher whose name I no longer remember.  I’m planning to write a large-scale work inspired by several of the stories and the first is, you guessed it, Daughters of the Moon.

It’s for clarinet, violin and cello and will be premiered at the next Concept Lab on March 31st, the complete info for which is below along with a few other performances.  Viva la luna!

Concept Lab Volume V

 

Concept Lab continues in its new home the Rockwood Music Hall.  Sadly our former home, the Cornelia Street Cafe was forced to close when the landlord decided that $33,000 per month just wasn’t enough rent and what he really needed to do was shut down a historic, quasi-legendary NYC venue to replace it with an empty storefront with a banner, but really more a kind of sad-looking sash, across the front saying “for lease by owner.” It’s exactly this kind of thinking that’s killing the moon dammit.

Anyway, Concept Lab is NYC’s home for experimentation, musical exploration, works-in-progress and more, and Volume V will feature music by series co-curators Will Rowe and myself, Ryan Chase, Stephanie Ann Boyd and Dan Cooper.

I’m using the occasion to finally start this large-scale work inspired by Italo Calvino that I’ve been thinking of doing lo these many years.  Yee-ha!

Sunday, March 31 5:30 PM
Rockwood Music Hall
196 Allen Street
$10
New York
More info

Impromptu Festival

 

Ok, going in reverse chronological order here with this month’s performances but it made sense so I could segue out of that whole moon thing into the performance of my moon-inspired, or death-of-the-moon inspired music.

So going temporally back from there, I’m sharing a bill with my colleague William Jason Raynovich as part of the Impromptu Festival in Chicago on March 28.  We’ll be joined by violinist Drew Williams for my part of the set to play three of my pieces for violin, cello and piano.

Nothing moon-related here but we’ll start with Whitespace, a piece inspired by the idea of negative space on a canvas.  We’ll move from there into Loud and Fast!  which kind of speaks for itself and then to Calm, With Waves which gee, also speaks for itself and close out the set with Marginal Capacity, a piece I wrote for a Concept Lab show a few months back.

Thursday, March 28 7:30 PM
Guarneri Hall
11 E. Adams St. #350
Chicago
More info

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Picosa Performs ‘Three For Zhou B’

 

Chicago-based ensemble Picosa will perform my chamber piece Three For Zhou B at PianoForte Chicago on Saturday, March 16 and again at Elmhurst College the following night at 7:30.

The piece is in three movements and each is inspired by a different painting by Chicago artists the Zhou Brothers and they’re pairing it with Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time famously written while he was a prisoner of war in a German camp during World War I.

By contrast I wrote Three for Zhou B in a comfortable studio with a nice view and plenty of unsweetened iced tea on hand, though I do remember having a mild toe cramp at one point so it’s not like I didn’t suffer.

March 16, 3:00 PM
PianoForte
1335 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago
$25

More info

Featured Seth Music: The Man Who Was Ill

 

The last piece I wrote before Maria and I got settled in our new place in Washington Heights was a film score for a silent film night held by Composers Concordance.  I decided to go with a film from ACM’s Sound of Silent Film Festival last year and so wrote a new score for The Man Who Was Ill by Luke Marsden.

I wrote it in a basement apartment at Coney Island during a polar vortex.  Too cold for unsweetened iced tea this time.  I had to compose while drinking Earl Grey which just isn’t me.  At any rate we performed it live with myself on piano and my friends Talia Dicker on cello and Irene Fitzgerald-Cherry on violin and we even got most of the cues right.  Bonus!

I’ve posted the video but should give a content warning as there is a fair amount of nudity in this film, boobs mainly.  I scored them in A major.  Naturally.

Watch

Miscellany, mélange, hodgepodge, etc.

 

I was reading about a new T-Rex exhibit in the paper yesterday and the author said that the dinosaurs perished when an asteroid crashed into the Yucatán Peninsula triggering a perpetual winter that killed 75% of the species on earth.  He then says it was the greatest and last extinction event unless you count the one that many scientists think we’re in the middle of now. Then he just goes back to talking about the exhibit as if mentioning that we might be in the middle of an extinction event is no big deal. Heck of a thing to be blasé about.

One of my other big projects at the moment is an opera adaptation of La Jetée which is an uplifting tale of a post-apocalyptic humanity living like rats in subterranean camps under Paris. The camps are run by these pseudo-scientist experimenters who want to send someone back in time to find a way to stop the world war that caused this less than stellar situation but who are basically just torturing everyone.  So, yeah, it’s all gloom and doom all the time for me these days. I’m looking forward to spring.

The book I’m reading about the space station built to last thousands of years is by Neal Stephenson.  As I mentioned so far it’s a lot of technical details. I’m hoping it picks up soon.  Maybe there will be a murder on the space station and they’ll have to train someone to be a detective using old Earth books as a guide.  I doubt it though. 

February was the first full month in like eight years that I didn’t make a radio show or four. It was also the first full month in years that I composed every day though so I’m happy. More iced tea please!   

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