Concerto for Orchestra

4/28/20131 min read

No blog entry since February! I've been deep inside the Concerto for Orchestra, a commission for the 40th anniversary of the Montreal Chamber Orchestra next season. My apprehension about embarking on a major non-vocal work after so many years is beginning to dissolve in the strenuous exhilaration of actually seeing and feeling and hearing it take shape. Two movements (out of four or five) are now complete.

The section 'Jocelyne and I in concert' is new. Jocelyne - my wife, creative partner, muse, unerring critic - has now retired from singing, and I've posted a few souvenirs of our work together in concert. I still miss the joy of accompanying her in concert, but she is a constant presence in this new adventure; I said to a friend that every note I write bears the imprint of her DNA as well as my own, and that's truer than ever now. Paul Klee once made a painting of the vocal fabric of a singer's voice; I think that the fabric of Jocelyne's voice is interwoven within all my music. Though she's no longer singing, her soul still shimmers with the same unique radiance, and that shimmering has infused itself into every part of me.

I've also posted a few photographic souvenirs of my own brief singing career - as the Count Almaviva in two McGill Opera Studio productions, directed by the late and much lamented Edith and Luciano Della Pergola. (I also sang the Secret Police Agent in Menotti's Consul - hardly typecasting! - and the twin buffo roles of Alcindoro and Benoit in Puccini's La Bohème, in which the sublime Gianna Corbisiero sang Mimi.) In addition to full-fledged operas, they presented many evenings of staged excerpts, and I participated in scenes ranging from Flotow's Martha to Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex. I remember watching maestro Della Pergola coach the splendid baritone Gaston Harnois through the monologue 'Pari siamo' in Verdi's Rigoletto, showing him how Verdi's music has meticulously traced the physical movements as well as the psychological evolution of the character... it was as stunning a dramatic experience as watching Maggie Smith in the theatre (I saw her as Lady Macbeth and Rosalind on the same weekend at Stratford!).