My birthday usually brings a number of new books to my house; I think one or two more boxes are due.
Today after our walk to the lake, we readied the bikes for the first ride of the season — maybe tomorrow? Apart from that, my day comprised the remaining weekly chores, a terrific meal, and reading.
It’s late, but I’m about to begin a short practice session with a focus on my current étude, the allegro on page 13 of Robert Cavally’s Melodious and Progressive Studies from Andersen, Gariboldi, Koehler, and Terschak for Flute, Book 2. Since January, I’ve worked on a number of short solo pieces by French composers, including the delightful “March of the Jolly Fellows” (Henri Gagnebin). I “retreated” to (somewhat) less challenging solo selections because this semester’s duet work was demanding, as were the selections for band. But my teacher has announced that after Fauré’s “Après un rêve” and Debussy’s “Arabesque No. 1,” I will begin preparing a (*gulp*) concerto. Tonight it’s the Fauré, though, and continuing work on the Mozart duet.
Over the weekend, we saw The Comedy of Errors, the last production Barbara Gaines will direct as artistic director of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. (Reviews here and here.) For the record, we didn’t mind the framing device, at all. Errors is a fairly ridiculous play; the frame gave it the support most contemporary audiences require. We also heard a short concert given by a small ensemble of Elgin Symphony Orchestra members — really delightful.
In late July, I played the Allegro Molto from Schubert’s Sonatine in D Major in my very first in-person recital — a solid performance. Soon after, I entrusted my wonderful flute to a new (to me) technician for its annual COA. (In July 2021, my previous technician closed his business and retired.) It was returned to me in beautiful condition, but in August, I visited Ollivanders, I mean, Flute World, where my new wand flute chose me. More experienced instrumentalists than I will attest to the fact that an upgrade can do remarkable things for one’s confidence playing. And they are so right.
My current solo piece is Gabriel Fauré’s “Pavane.” I’m also working on page 10 of Robert Cavally’s Melodious and Progressive Studies from Andersen, Gariboldi, Koehler, and Terschak for Flute, Book 2, and “Duetto No. I (based on Sonata in B flat, K. 378)” (Mozart) in Selected Duets for Flute, Volume II (Advanced). It’s been a long slog, but I’ve (finally) made it to 111 in P. Bona’s rhythmical articulation studies.
And after much discussion, my husband and I decided to change bands. Joining the local community band has saved us 2.5 hours a week of driving — and in one semester and three concerts, measurably improved our skills. Rehearsals start up again in a few weeks. Given my other pursuits, then, my practice schedule will remain largely unchanged:
— 15 minutes: long tones, scales, and/or exercises
— 20 minutes: Melodious and Progressive Studies
— 20 minutes: duet
— 15 minutes: rhythmical articulation
— 20 minutes: solo
— 20 minutes: band music or other
In May, I acquired a beautiful alto flute. What a sound! I took private lessons throughout the summer and fall with the idea that I might accept a few alto parts in flute ensemble. Because the flute ensemble remains fairly informal and still has no performance plans, I bowed out for a bit to focus on band music, but in the coming months, I will add the alto back into my practice at least twice a week.
This weekend, we saw a remarkable production of Measure for Measure at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater and performed in our community band’s Halloween concert. Upcoming: music lessons, early voting, reading group meetings, walks, leaf-raking, and a two-day respite to recover from the Covid bivalent booster.
The band my husband and I joined earlier this year performed its spring concert. What a lot of fun! The flute section recently decided to form a small performance group, so in addition to the weekly rehearsals for band, I’m now practicing with the flute choir.
Our “pollinator pockets,” which we finished planting over Mother’s Day weekend, suffered a bit in last week’s heat wave, but we were able to protect them with a canopy and extra watering.
All of the plants for the “pollinator pockets” I’m planning for the two raised beds we prepared last month are crowded into three-season room. It’s a beautiful mess — and hell on my allergies. “They” say that the last frost is behind us, and the warming trend begins this weekend, so I hope to plant early Sunday morning. In the meantime, I’ve mulched the other beds, repaired the borders, tidied the patio, readied the containers for perennials, repaired a few bare-ish lawn patches, removed all the feeders, and, yes, already mowed. Twice. (Hey, when you keep the grass a little longer, it’s critical to keep it tidy.)
And now that I’ve typed this, I realize I’ve procrastinated long enough. It’s time to practice my music. Our concert date approaches, as do this semester’s final three private lessons.
My commitment to annotating my reading list has waned primarily because enough note-taking, peripheral reading and studying, and discussion occurs in the assorted groups in which I am participating that I feel as if I’ve said what I need to say. Of course, I haven’t said it here, but music practice (1), band rehearsal (2), planning raised beds for pollinators, backyard birding (3), plus studying and reading have all conspired to keep me off the computer (except when I’m in Zoom meetings). We’ll see if I can remedy that.
(1) My current solo piece is (still) Howard Ferguson’s Three Sketches for Flute and Piano. I’m also working on No. 15 of 18 Studies for Flute by Joachim Anderson, Op. 41, in Robert Cavally’s Melodious and Progressive Studies from Andersen, Gariboldi, Koehler, and Terschak for Flute, Book 1, and Sonata No. V (Handel) in Selected Duets for Flute, Volume II (Advanced), as well as scales, rhythmical articulation, and music for the spring concert.
(2) Yes, we joined a band of adult amateurs, who range from late beginner to early-advanced. During the 1.25-hour commute there and back, we’ve been listening to The Great Courses (TGC) on Dante’s Divine Comedy, which I’m reading for 100 Days of Dante. We’ve also been sampling TGC lectures on the bible. Neither of us has read it, cover to cover, so to address this educational gap, we’re using a reading schedule we found online, (usually) doubling the daily commitment, so that we finish this summer.
(3) For the last week or so, we’ve had a tiny flock of Common Redpolls at our feeders, a first in the eleven years at the forever home. This article shed some light on what may be going on. (Is it too much to ask that some of the sandhill cranes we’ve espied in the neighborhood stopped in our yards?)
■ Macbeth (William Shakespeare; 1606. Drama.) In advance of watching Joel Coen’s film. Related story/review here.
■ Six Characters in Search of an Author (Luigi Pirandello (Trans. Edward Storer; 1921. Drama.) Cannot recall the precise path that led me to Scallydandling about the books, but I can say that I enjoy poking about in her video lists. Six Characters was her January drama selection.
■ Late Migrations: A Memoir of Love and Loss (Margaret Renkl; 2019. Non-fiction.) For the commonplace book:
p. 7 But the shadow side of love is always loss, and grief is only love’s twin.
p.17 Holding a useless camera, I suddenly realize that something extraordinary is happening right before me, a great serpent slowly on the move and all the songbirds aware of its presence and calling to each other and telling each other to beware. The miracle isn’t happening in the sky at all. It’s happening in the damp weeds of an ordinary backyard, among last year’s moldering leaves and the fragrant soil turned up by moles.
p. 73 […B]ut the flip side of ignorance is astonishment, and I am good at astonishment.
p. 155 When I didn’t die, however, and then didn’t die some more, I came one day to understand: I wasn’t dying; I was grieving. I wasn’t dying. Not yet.
p. 186 Human beings are creatures made for joy. Against all evidence, we tell ourselves that grief and loneliness and despair are tragedies, unwelcome variations from the pleasure and calm and safety that in the right way of the world would form the firm ground of our being. In the fairy tale we tell ourselves, darkness holds nothing resembling a gift.
What we feel always contains its own truth, but it is not the only truth, and darkness almost always harbors some bit of goodness tucked out of sight, waiting for an unexpected light to shine, to reveal it in its deepest hiding place.
With the month closing and only nine books on my list, I’d say this year has begun at a far more leisurely pace than last year (twenty-five books). That said, I’m reading quite a bit. With 100 Days of Dante, I’ve nearly climbed Mount Purgatory. With book groups, I’m reading Anna Karenina, Moby-Dick, and Debt (see sidebar). I’ve just begun A Clockwork Orange, the February Cardiff BookTalk selection. And my husband and I have embarked on a read-the-bible-in-a-year schedule. (It pains me to confess that I haven’t read the complete bible. Do you have a recommendation for a “bible as literature” resource? We’ll take it.)
I began listening to State of Terror (Louise Penny and Hillary Rodham Clinton) on the drive to and from Michigan last week — not Chief Inspector Gamache but certainly entertaining. While away, I also tried to finish Noah Hawley’s latest novel, Anthem (review here), but no luck. Unlike S. Kirk Walsh, I’m finding it a bit… tedious.
Before heading out on my mini-vacation, I gave a Zoom* performance for an audience of one, playing the Rondeau, Polonaise, and Badinerie from Suite No. 2 in B Minor, BWV 1067. Was it flawless? Nope. But while I was away, my teacher wrote, in part, “Really, really excellent work on the Bach! So pleased and proud that you put your all into it and did such a great job.” Yes, I’m still grinning. My new solo piece is Howard Ferguson’s Three Sketches for Flute and Piano. I’m also working on the ninth of 18 Studies for Flute by Joachim Anderson, Op. 41, in Robert Cavally’s Melodious and Progressive Studies from Andersen, Gariboldi, Koehler, and Terschak for Flute, Book 1, and “From Duetto No. IV” (W.F. Bach) in Selected Duets for Flute, Volume II (Advanced). My practice schedule remains much as it was in the fall.
Our walking schedule, however, does not: The snow and ice (to say nothing of the extreme cold of days like yesterday) make early morning walks in the neighborhood untenable, so we’ve been using workouts on DVDs, after which, I hop on the exercise bike while my husband gets ready for work. We have the equipment needed to walk the conservation district paths, though, so we head there on the weekends during which the weather cooperates.
* Given the continuing uncertainty surrounding the virus, I requested that we return to the virtual format until at least February.