Thursday, May 11, 2006
He'd stopped by to talk about doing exactly that, and also to invite me to the premiere of a new piece of his that was part of a concert at King's Chapel in Boston this past Tuesday. G is many things, among them a really fine photographer--the photographer, in fact, who had taken the lovely picture of Fritz and me that was featured on a full page in Boston's gay newspaper, Bay Windowsayear or so ago. G was advertising his couples photography via four full-page ads, and particularly wanted us to be one of the couples. But more than anything else that he does, it's composing that's his real passion.
He studied composition in Paris during college, fell away from it for a while due to the pressures of making a living, then came back to it a while ago when he found he just couldn't stay away. In a town known for its many composers and high musical standards, he's been pulling down regular commissions. WGBH (National Public Radio) made a special studio recording of one of his more recent pieces for broadcast. He now has commissions on a waiting list and can afford to pick and choose which ones interest him most. But the King's Chapel premiere was to be something really different.
Will: So--what’s the piece?
G: It's a five movement suite in serial technique, my first piece in that style. It's for organ and euphonium.
Will: Now THERE'S a combination! Euphonium . . . sort of a tuba . . . ?
G: Yes! Good for you--it's the next step up from tuba but smaller, with a very sweet tone. My cousin from New York--who's also gay--is playing it. I've been writing for it a lot recently. In fact, I've become the darling of the euphonium community.
Will (getting the giggles): The euphonium . . . COMMUNITY?
G (feigning indignation): Yes! And they really love me.
Will: OK, so who wouldn't? But a community--some sort of organized group?
Turns out it is, sort of. One of their goals is to get more music composed, or adapted, for their instrument. We batted back and forth what you call a musician who plays a euphonium--euphoniumist, euphoniumer, or my personal favorite--euphonist. Turns out it’s the first, which sounds a bit awkward to me.
So I went down to King's Chapel on Tuesday where they have weekly concerts during lunch hour. A small contribution is requested, and the beautiful early 18th century church is closed to tourists for the duration. The euphonium turned out to have a very sweet tone somewhere between a tuba and a saxophone; it blended with the lovely baroque-style organ beautifully, and G's cousin played with a lot of virtuosity. The best part was that G's piece has a very strong profile, exploits the full range of the euphonium and all its tone color possibilities.
Yesterday Fritz came down from New Hampshire for the last of our subscription performances with Speakeasy Stage: "Caroline, or Change" with words by noted gay playwright Tony Kushner and music by Jeanine Tesori. As usual, we knew several people in the audience, and met a lively guy who was sitting directly in front of me. He was a real theater buff, right on the cusp between handsome and cute, and he turned out to be a massage therapist. We flirted pretty outrageously with him at every available opportunity.
"Caroline" had been heavily praised in its New York premiere, but neither of us had seen it and we didn’t know that it was through-composed with only five or six lines of spoken dialog in the entire evening. It's really a kind of pop opera (I keep telling Fritz that opera’s out to get him) that tells the story of a hard-working middle-aged black single mother in the early 1960s in the South, who's trying to raise her children decently on her wages as maid and occasional cook for a wealthy Jewish family.
The Speakeasy production is excellent, musically and dramatically, beautifully cast up and down the line. It's at the new Calderwood Pavilion black box theater at the Boston Center for the Arts through June 3.
New photos of half naked countertenors, or Nathan Gunn's torso (which I've discovered has achieved iconic status among a large number of classical musicians and singers) have been in short supply lately. But I came across this shot of Rahav Segev of the band Tool. I'm not exactly a rock fan, but from the look of things, Mr. Segev could make me consider doing some cross-over.
And speaking of rockers, a member of the Sex Pistols is getting away with something on American radio that a British politico got into hot water for on the BBC. There's a Janet-Jackson's-Boob type flap in England because the word wanker was used on the air by some official. For those not in on Britspeak, to wank is to jerk off. Interestingly, a high Australian government official once described former American Vice President Dan Quayle on Australian TV as "a real wanker," but those wonderfully open Aussies are much more healthily uninhibited than the British or Americans. And also, Dan Quayle unquestionably WAS a real wanker.
So, the aforementioned Sex Pistol does a radio ad for Virgin Atlantic in which he advises a friend to fly Virgin trans-Atlantic in first class because of the in-flight masseur, the bar, the showers and the lie-down beds. Economy class is only for wankers, he assures his friend.
I'm of two minds about the ad. As someone who loves to see the status quo subverted, I'm delighted. But as someone who can only afford economy class, I'm not sure I'd be comfortable flying an airline that refers to me in public as a wanker. Of course, I AM writing this just after my morning wank. Life can be so complicated.
Tool is an amazing band, you should check them out. Frontman Maynard is incredibly talented lyrical genius!
Have a great weekend Wil!
Thanks for the yummy eye candy of shirtless Rahav Segev.