About me

I am an active composer and organizer of music events. I share a monthly Music as Meditation concert with listeners and fellow musicians and I organize several concerts of new music each year. I use this blog to tell people about my musical endeavors.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Syzygy--The Fourth Dimension

     Along with my regular Syzygy partners Mary Edes and Dana Cunningham, I have lately been contemplating time. Our next show, scheduled for the auspicious date of Wednesday, December 21, at 7:00 PM at Salyards Center for the Arts on Main Street in Conway Village to reflect on the nature of time. We regulars will be joined by Jed Wilson, cast as the immortal man.
     What is time, anyway? How does it impinge on us? How does it order our lives? Why does our experience of it vary? How do we find it? How do we lose it? How do we save it? These questions and more inchoate ones have inspired vignettes, musical selections, and poems. It's about time. Admission is $10 at the door or $5 for students.
     The Syzygy performance series takes its name from a term denoting the alignment of three or more celestial bodies in a straight line. Used in the fields of astrology, philosophy, psychology, mathematics, biology, and even poetry, syzygy denotes the coming together of disparate parts—however briefly—to form some new thing. The shows seek to use art to create a new and meaningful (if not entirely serious) experience. For more information about this show or about the series, ask Ellen at ellen.m.schwindt@gmail.com.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Two Arias

Here are two Arias from The Passion of Drury Doyle—an opera about the more infamous aspects of the career of John Brown. The first is called “Mahala Doyle's Lament” and is based on sworn testimony left by the real Mahala Doyle. In the testimony she describes the murder of her husband and two oldest sons committed by John Brown and his two oldest sons on Pottawattamie creek in the heat of the Kansas Troubles in 1857. The second aria is called “If There are Souls.” The lyrics for this aria come from Stephen Vincent Benet's book “John Brown's Body.”

Mahala Doyle's Lament:

If There are Souls

 
If you are interested in more material from this opera for performance, please contact me. I want to share my music but I would like to know when and where it is performed, so please contact me if you would like to use it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A violin and piano concert on September 25th

My practice time lately has been devoted to preparations for a concert of violin and piano music planned for Sunday, September 25th at 3:00 PM at Salyards Center for the Arts. The program is devoted to three works which are quite different from each other but have one thing in common, at least as I hear them. I believe they can all function as an exhortation to spend time well. Here are some tidbits about each piece.
Erik Satie's Le Mort de Socrate
In 399 BCE, a court in Athens found the philosopher Socrates guilty of corrupting the youth of Athens with his constant questioning about reality and sentenced him to death. Plato's account of his death has inspired sympathy from those enamored of a rational way of life ever since. Erik Satie, who contemplated the realities of life during the early part of the 20th Century in France, set the drama of Socrates' death to music—music that captures both Socrates' friends' sensations as the hour of his death approached inexhorabley, and Socrates' own peaceful outlook based on his firm faith in the immortality of his soul.
Aaron Copland's Violin Sonata
Aaron Copland dedicated a piece to a man who died too young—one Lieutenant Harry Dunham, a friend killed in the action of  World War II. The piece, a sonata for violin and piano, is a tightly constructed microcosm of many musical moods. The Lyric melodies and bouyant exuberances of the first movement sandwich a slow mournful dance. Copland composed it during 1942 and 1943. He dedicated it to his friend who died just after Copland finished the piece.
Robert Schumann's Violin Sonata in a minor 
 Beside these two musical treatises on noble death we have juxtaposed Robert Schumann's violin Sonata in A minor—composed in1851. This was just three years before Robert Schumann was confined to a mental hospital after attempting suicide by throwing himself into the Rhine. It is a piece full of passionate emotion realized in the most romantic style. 

But do not think, from these descriptions, that the pieces are morbid or dolorous. All three partake of life, indeed have the divine spark evident in them. We hope you will decide to use your time to come and enjoy them with us. The concert takes place at 3:00 PM on Sunday, September 25th at Salyards Center for the Arts. It is a faculty concert for Mountain Top Music Center where both Chris Nourse and I teach. A donation of $10 is suggested. For more information call Mountain Top Music Center at 447-4737.


Friday, June 17, 2011

An oboe concerto in search of a soloist an orchestra and a conductor

Now that summer is here, I finally have time to devote to composition. So at long last I've posted all three movements of the music I composed last summer. The work is a concerto for oboe and small orchestra. Brian Charles, a Julliard-trained oboist and the proprietor of Charles Double Reed Company premiered the piece last October along with the Mountain Top Music Center Community Orchestra under the direction of Christopher Nourse.

Brian is a classical musician with a wide range of musical interests—one of which is improvisation. For this reason, I made room for improvisation in the cadenza section. The motif that runs through the first movement was inspired by a friend of mine's description of water dripping into a bucket on a cool summer morning in Maine. While I don't think of the work as completely programmatic, perhaps that idea gives the listener a place from which to consider the music.

I'm hoping there are other oboists and other orchestras who might like to perform the piece. I'd be happy to supply parts and audio files for musicians to peruse. I also created a piano reduction of the orchestral part to allow for a wider range of performance possibilities. Please contact me by e-mail if you are interested in performing the work.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Portrait of Romance--Syzygy returns to Salyards June 13th

Ellen Schwindt, Mary Edes, and Dana Cunningham ponder Romance in the next Syzygy—Monday, June 13th at SalyardsDownload Romance Poster

Robert Schumann fell deeply in love with Clara Wieck. In the year when their love bloomed he wrote more than 100 songs. Robert Schumann sued Clara Wieck's father for the right to marry her. When the judgment finally came from the bench allowing Robert and Clara to consummate their love, Robert Schumann poured his feelings into a masterpiece of song—Frauenliebe und Leben. It is a setting of 8 poems describing the arc of a woman's love for her husband. The couple in the poem meet on the way to church and fall in love. The songs describe the woman's feeling through the whole arc of her life; they are rich, luscious, and poignant.

This song cycle, sung by Mary Edes and played by Ellen Schwindt, anchor the next Syzygy—a performance series the two have created along with Dana Cunningham. The shows in the series explore a theme,and this time the theme is Romance. What is Romance? Do we choose it? Does it choose us? Does it help us or hinder us as we seek the right path for our lives?

Mike Sakash, saxophone, and Anna Jones, dancer, join Mary, Ellen, and Dana in an public pondering of these questions through poems by Mary Oliver, Robert Schumann's romances for oboe (saxophone?!) and piano, and the humorous result of coping with the storm of romance through avoidance. The show takes place on Monday, June 13th at 7:00 PM at Salyards Center for the Arts. Admission is $10 or $5 for students.

The Syzygy performance series takes its name from a term denoting the alignment of three or more celestial bodies in a straight line. Used in the fields of astrology, philosophy, psychology, mathematics, biology, and even poetry, syzygy denotes the coming together of disparate parts—however briefly—to form some new thing. The shows seek to use art to create a new and meaningful (if not entirely serious) experience. For more information about this show or about the series, ask Ellen at ellen.m.schwindt@gmail.com.