April 11, 2023

It’s been almost a week since I last wrote a long piece. I don’t know if it’s because my need to write is receding along with the pandemic or if I’m just lazy. I certainly could have written something this weekend, but I was slothful instead. Well, not completely, I made it to my improv class, wrote my notes for the week, attended and sang at Easter service and did the laundry. Maybe it’s the sense of melancholy I usually get in mid-April as I pass through what I refer to as birthday week. Tommy’s birthday was yesterday, the 10th. He would have turned 58. Steve’s birthday is this Thursday, the 13th. It would be his 75th. I am trying to imagine a 75 year old Steve and I simply can’t. Maybe that’s why he was destined to die young. He simply couldn’t have existed in an older model.

It’s probably fitting that I’m spending birthday week in rehearsal with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra for the world premiere of Carlos Izcaray’s Requiem. Carlos is the conductor of the orchestra. He’s a generation younger than I am and his wife died tragically young of cancer a few years ago. This Requiem is his musical tribute to her and their life together. I, of all people, understand the emotions that produced the music. I’m generally not a huge fan of modern classical music as most contemporary composers seem to write pieces full of dissonance and strange harmonies that seem to be about showing off rather than pleasing the ear of the audience. There are some exceptions. The first time I heard Gorecki’s third symphony, I had to pull the car off the road and completely stop what I was doing in order to listen, I found it so affecting.

So Carlos’s Requiem, a memorial to his wife, in some ways is feeling a bit like a memorial to my dead husbands in my head. Tonight was the first rehearsal with the symphony and, after hearing the full orchestration rather than just a piano reduction, I can report that I liked it very much. Some of it is gorgeous and lyrical. Some of it is a little strange and the Dies Irae is very much in tempo di bat out of hell that is an Izcaray specialty. If you have nothing better to do this weekend, come on down to Jemison Hall at the Alys Stephens Center on either Friday or Saturday night and make up your own mind.

The first major work I sang with the ASO on joining the chorus a decade ago was also a Requiem, the Cherubini written as a memorial to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette after the Bourbons were restored to power under Louis XVIII and they were properly entombed. I rather liked the music and it was fun to sing it with a full orchestra. As an experiment, the symphony decided to try projecting specially commissioned visuals on a large screen above the musicians. I do not know who selected the artist but the end result looked something like Terry Gilliam’s animations for Monty Python. I remember something about bunnies frolicking on the lawns of Versailles while Marie Antoinette’s head rolled by. Boos were heard when the artist took his curtain call and, to my knowledge, it is an experiment that has not been repeated.

I continue to feel like I’m in a bit of a state of suspended animation regarding life in general. I know I’ve entered a period of transition and that my life patterns are changing and I’m going to be living somewhat differently in a year or two but just how that’s going to happen and what the end result will be remains unclear. I’m trying to be relatively upbeat about it and, as usual, when I’m in a place of doubt and uncertainty, I’ve turned to Sondheim. The lyric ‘Could it be? Yes it could. Something’s coming, something good, if I can wait’ has been running through my head nonstop. I’ll try to hold on to that positivity but, as an Eyore by nature, it’s difficult.

I’m about a month behind on the third book so it will probably be out late summer. I’m not in a rush, but I would like to get it done so that I can cross it off of my ‘To Do’ list and put something else in its place. I’ve decided to get a new tattoo (courtesy of my sister, the tattoo artist) of the cover character from the books to commemorate the accomplishment of completing the whole project. I haven’t decided which of the three versions to use, or maybe she’ll draw some sort of composite for me before rendering it permanent.

I’m tired…. must end this and put on Netflix. My current binge is The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. I’ve decided I’m really a sixteen year old girl on some levels.

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