Houseblogging through the pain

No, not pain from the beer, pain from getting the spare bedroom ready for my parents. The bedroom had a full size mattress and box spring, and a bed frame, in it. And a big sheet of drywall. Too big to fit in the garage (which is already full of crap). Too big to fit up into the attic. Lisa cut the drywall in half. I dragged it up the attic stairs. I had to get the room empty for a queen size air mattress (double height; we’re not barbarians).

But where was the full size bed to go?

Well, after several months of kvetching over where to put the clawfoot tub that we had ripped out back in July and had sitting in the front of the garage (in my car’s stall, thankyouverymuch), we finally made room under my workbench. And, contrary to expectation, the tub was eminently shovable. So we moved some more stuff around, put the mattress, box springs, and frame in the garage. Then drove my car in.

Words fail me. I know this afternoon I was waxing transcendent about Pärt, but this is a whole different kind of transcendence. There will be no pine needles on my car in the morning. And with that thought, this pained houseblogger is going to bed. I have inlaws coming tomorrow and I’ll need my rest. 🙂

Quick tasting notes: St. Bernardus Abt

Lots of good stuff tonight. In fact, I was going to post two tasting notes, but I can’t taste the Saison de Silly right now. I have tasted the St. Bernardus Abt and I can’t taste anything else at present.

Oh my God, what a beer. Dark, malty, slightly syrupy. Smooth. Deep flavors. Nose like freshly baked bread like so many Belgian ales. Aftertaste like a fruit—apples, maybe.

This is my first beer in my long delayed membership in the RealBeer club. (I bought it in September at the Seattle Beer Festival but they lost their Seattle distributor, and just started a new contract.) I think I’m in love.

Performance Report 2: Cascadian Chorale, Illuminatio

The Cascadian performance yesterday was too long to do a detailed movement by movement analysis, but here are some highlights. We began the program in the balcony of the church, which we shared with a bunch of evergreens. The first piece, Tavener’s “O Do Not Move,” is brief but timeless. The tenors repeat the title three times, in three different modalities (minor, major, major with a diminished second), moving from conventional harmony to a more Byzantine sound. The whole choir then joins in, holding a minor chord while the sopranos sing the word “listen” in a descending Dorian scale; the piece then closes as it began. The text, O do not move/Listen/to the gentle beginning, calls the listener to move into a more contemplative and meditative frame of mind.

The second piece, Pärt’s “Magnificat,” also went well. Like most of Pärt’s vocal works, “Magnificat,” is constructed of alternating chant and triadic singing in relatively free meters and different voicings. The biggest challenges for the singer are paying attention and telling a unified story from beginning to end. Here I felt we could have better told the story; the Magnificat, after all, is Mary’s song of praise upon finding out she has been chosen to bear Christ. But the performance was generally good.

The third and fourth pieces, Tavener’s “Today the Virgin” and Górecki’s “Totus Tuus,” were both outstandingly performed. I had done the Tavener in the Cathedral Choral Society several years ago, and here the text was cleaner, crisper, and more expressive while losing none of the punch. (This is probably because the Cascadian Chorale has only 1/4 the members of CCS.) The Górecki was flawless and soaring, better than quite a few performances I’ve heard on CD, and raised goosebumps.

The Pärt Te Deum now ranks as the most challenging choral work I’ve ever sung. Like the “Magnificat,” Te Deum contains contrasting chant and triadic parts; it ups the ante with three antiphonal choirs, an orchestra that responds to each of the triadic sections, and a really long text (the piece clocks in at around 35 minutes). There were a few difficulties owing to the antiphonal arrangement, mostly sloppy entrances to chants, but overall I thought the piece went magnificently well.

The second half was the Christmas portion of the Messiah, which we performed at ludicrous speed. The music didn’t suffer at that tempo—the speed seemed to bring out the dancelike qualities of the early movements.

All in all it was a really satisfying concert to sing, and bodes well for the rest of the season.

Performance report 1: Liquid Lounge, 14 Dec 2002

Craig reminds me that I didn’t actually say anything about how the debut went, just that it happened.

Both arrangements were done by me and George Bullock, a jazz guitarist who works at my company and plays with the Charisa Martin Cairn Quartet. We started out trying “Accidents Will Happen” at Elvis’s tempo, but thankfully Charisa suggested that we take it slower after one run through where I mangled half the words. On the next run through, George played spare chords underneath while I straightened out some of the vocal melismas I had borrowed from Elvis. The resulting sound was a lot more subtle than the recording on Armed Forces and allowed me to bring out some of the anger and confusion in the lyrics while still staying melodic. I knew we had done well when we finished the last chorus before the “I know, I know” fadeout and the audience started applauding—even the ones who didn’t work with me. 🙂

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” was really more of a showcase for George, since it’s a little low in my range, but I did my part by keeping the lyrics coming, playing a little with the phrasing and timing, and making the most of the few high notes in the song.

It was a great session. We’re already talking about trying to find ways to keep doing the music together.

Monday morning

I like the way other people write about their weekends. Take Esta, for instance: I feel as though I were there.

There is a lot I could write about the concert yesterday, my Liquid Lounge debut Saturday, our dinner with Arvind and Kim afterward, even the experience of programming the remote. At the moment, though, I have to pull some things together for a 10 am meeting. And since I’m on vacation starting Wednesday, there is a lot I need to do in the next few days. Maybe later this afternoon I can do a proper update. In the meantime go read Justin’s adventures in Tokyo, and send him a note every time he says “lively.” Happy 28, Justin; I keep forgetting you’re younger than me.