I spent most of yesterday prepping the piano/vocal score of A Visit to William Blake’s Inn to go out to a competition. Most of it was easy, and it forced me to make the title page of each piece consistent within the suite. (It’s weird that I only recently learned to input all the title/composer/lyricist stuff into the Info box, and then use Text Inserts to handle them.)
A couple of difficulties, but nothing major. I had to generate a piano score for “The Man in the Marmalade Hat Arrives,” because it was composed straight for trumpet trio and wads of percussion. And I had to create a piano reduction of “Epilogue,” because I had slammed that together overnight and just done it straight to orchestra. I ended up leaving the abysmal “piano reduction” of the sunflower waltz in place, because, you know, if they actually select it, I’ll do something about it.
Likewise the actual orchestration. There’s a limit on 20 players for the orchestra in this competition, and I posited 2/2/2/2/1 strings; 4 “winds,” meaning four players who could switch instruments as needed; 2 percussionists; 2 horns; 1 piano, 1 harp, 1 synth, who would cover trumpets and whatever else I had to leave out. Needless to say, this is a false lie. The thing is scored for an orchestra twice that size, and I confessed that while claiming that it could be reorchestrated in the event of its being selected.
Which we all know is not very likely to happen. Leaving aside the curse on my music, it’s not really an opera, is it? It’s charming, and it would be a huge draw for any opera company, but it’s not fashionably atonal and there’s no plot. My experience has been that people listen to it and think it’s pretty, but shouldn’t we write a script to embed the songs in? No one seems to have the vision necessary to turn it into a performance.
All of which is to say, I love this piece. I love Nancy Willard’s poetry, and I love my music. It arcs, it delights, it inspires. I haven’t listened to it for a while, mostly I think because it reminds me painfully that it will probably never have a real performance, but this week I’ve had it in the CD player in the van, and it is at least a comfort to discover that I still love it. It hasn’t fallen apart in the dark while I wasn’t looking, if that makes any sense. It’s still my masterpiece.
It is a comfort, too, that Nancy Willard loves it as well. She reiterated that this week when I contacted her about sending me something official in writing that I had permission to use her work. I am not being disingenuous when I say that I yearn for a performance of this work more for her than for me.