Tuesday, July 06, 2010

"The Spice of the Program" now available on CD!

A piece of chamber music I composed is now available on CD. The Palisades Virtuosi — an ensemble comprised of Margaret Swinchoski, flute, Donald Mokrynski, clarinet, and Ron Levy, piano — commissioned me to compose a ten-minute work for them back in 2005. The piece, entitled "The Spice of the Program" (yes, like the logo/catch-phrase of Educational Pictures) was premiered at the PVI's Dec 2005 concert, and was recorded the following year. The CD was just released this month (July 2010), in which my piece is joined by five others by Dick Hyman, Bryan Schober, Fred Messner and Randall E. Faust. You can buy it here on the Albany Records website, or here on Amazon.com. I haven't heard the CD yet — who has time to open a shrink-wrapped CD anymore? — but I'm sure the first ten tracks are fantastic, and much classier than mine (track #11). Scroll down to read the liner notes I wrote for my piece.

The Spice of the Program [2005] is a tribute to the short comedy film of the silent era. The comedy two-reeler was the staple of every movie show during the silent film era, and was often the bread-and-butter of every theater manager. During the 1920’s, a theater marquee often displayed the star and title of the slapstick short on the bill as well as the feature attraction, because the new Harold Lloyd or Lloyd Hamilton comedy was often a bigger draw than the dramatic feature showing that week. Drawing on 25+ years of composing and improvising live musical scores for silent films, Model has constructed a piece of chamber music based on the structure of a typical comedy short, with themes (or leitmotifs) for the lead comic, his adversary, and the girl the comic is pining or fighting for, as well as the “standard” mood or incidental music essential for one of these cinema appetizers — “busy” music, “trouble brewing” music and, of course, a chase that resolves with a recap of the a love theme and the film’s main theme. The listener should feel free to relax, forget where they are, and “tune out” — imagining a fictional silent slapstick film as it unspools on the silver screen in their mind’s eye.

Friday, July 02, 2010

All finished with the "Auteurist" series at MoMA

Well, stick a fork in me...I am done with the 26 performances at MoMA in June, as well as the Sept-May run of the silents in Charles Silver's "Auteurist" series, and have come out the other end. It's taken a day or two for the music to stop swirling around in my head.

I initially thought I'd be able to shoot and post video blogs on a regular basis, but the mental space to do that -- and a few other thing I'd thought I'd manage to pull off during this hectic run of mostly two shows a day -- didn't quite happen. There really wasn't room for reflection on the work done each day to the point that I could articulate it back to anyone who checks this blog.

Throughout the 3-week run in June I challenged myself to make improvements on each performance in my music and improvisation. My watchword to myself (when I could remember it) was always "you can always play less".

I got to know another bunch of regular attendees (seniors and otherwise) who really enjoyed the series, the sound of the Miditzer theatre organ, and my playing. There was one woman who had been coming to several shows with her elderly mother, usually sitting in the first few rows, who presented me with a gift at the end of one of the shows to thank me for my playing...an assortment of Godiva chocolates. Very sweet (pardon the pun).

It was great to have work to go to every day, and silent film accompaniment work at that. The second half of the run was done almost entirely on theatre organ, so that was another nice treat.

I'm still digesting everything and will hopefully post a more thorough report on what went through my mind during some shows, reflections on certain films, etc.

No more performances for two weeks, until Slapsticon, although I have other projects to finish and get out the door before I take the Amtrak down to DC/Arlington.

Perhaps as dust settles I can jot down some notes, and file a more thorough blog post on the "Auteurist" series. There's plenty more silents coming at MoMA in the fall, and I hope to be busy playing for some of these series.

Until next time...