31 December 2008

the audacity of some blessed Hope (for the new year)

The Darkling Thrush

I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The land's sharp features seemed to be
The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.

Thomas Hardy wrote, or at least dated, that poem 31 December 1900, to mark the beginning of the twentieth century. And that turned out OK, didn't it? Oh, right . . . um, well . . . .

Peace to all in 2009.

13 December 2008

all this have I done in care of thee

Back in the early days, I had to trudge through ten miles of snow to find a previous blog entry. Now all you need to do is check out the Label List just below the blog archives to the right. These things aren't an exact science and I may do some tweaking, but in case you ever wondered exactly how obsessive and repetitious I can be, here's your chance to do some research, since I've gone back to the beginning and slapped more or less accurate labels on everything.

I'm also trying out removing the "word verification," which I always find a bit annoying, in favor of moderating all comments. I'll see how that works.

05 December 2008


This is my favorite picture of myself ever!

The photo is courtesy of Civic Center's fabulous sfmike.

In case you can't tell what the music is, it's the framed score for John Cage's 4' 33" as currently on exhibit at SFMOMA. A recent e-mail from them describes the piece as "noteless jazz" - um, noteless, sure, but why is it classified as jazz? I suspect it's just to make it sound more intriguing to that ever-desirable hipster demographic they're trying to lure in.

I'm spending the weekend at Carterpalooza, and many thanks to San Francisco Performances for being the only local group celebrating the still-living, still-composing Carter as he turns 100 this week. I'd be impressed and inspired by his continuing productivity even if I hadn't been enjoying his music for decades.

Unfortunately this means I will miss the New Music Seance presented by Other Minds. What a plethora of musical riches - you'd think December 6 was the feast of St Cecilia rather than St Nicholas.

When I started blogging I vowed I would never apologize for posting late, because I knew I would end up sounding like Jim Anchower, so I'll just say that if you're wondering what I've seen since the middle of September, I hope to satisfy your curiosity very soon. In the meantime, go buy some of the new Elliott Carter discs and enjoy!