Friday, November 09, 2007

Go West, Mr. Man!

Here's a shot of Greg dancing with the lovely and talented Miss Dinah Moe. Pop Quiz: Which one has two left feet?

(Actually, they're both pretty good dancers, though Dinah's talents lie more in the realm of aerial ballet.)

The Man is headed west on Sunday for his two-week residency at Ucross. He's been packing for a couple of days now -- hiking stuff here, computer monitor there. I take him to the airport on Sunday after he's done with church, and then he's off to live inside his head full-time until just before Thanksgiving. They'll even bring him his lunch so he can work all day without interruptions, and his cabin doesn't have a TV. (Heck, where do I sign up??)

He thinks he'll be spending much of his Ucross time working on Les sept merveilles (The Seven Wonders). He says of that piece that it's possibly the most intense piece he's ever written, and that he had to finish working through The Waking before he could figure out how to approach it. He has been working with headphones on, so I literally haven't heard more than two notes of the piece. He expects to spend a goodly amount of his composing time at Ucross giving it life and form. I wouldn't be surprised if he came home with a new idea or two, either.

The Waking is essentially done, except for some minor cleanup. On occasion, I've also heard phrases from There and Back Again, which is also somewhere close to being finished -- I think. Until Greg declares a piece to be done and stamps the place and date of completion on it, it's still open for changes.

The Man has actually had quite a lot of news of late. Who's Who in America has now officially left the presses and has started arriving at every public library in the country -- and Greg's in it! He ordered a copy for himself, and it came in two ginormous volumes. Volume 1 bears his name on the front cover and contains his biography (as well as those of everyone else who is Who for 2008). I'm in it too -- listed under Life Partner. I always did love libraries, and now I'm in every one in the country, too.

Greg was so tickled when his copies arrived that he opened up the index of names in Volume 2 and pointed to all of the ones where no address was listed (he did so for privacy reasons). "Look! There's Jon Stewart! Look! There's Zach Braff!" You get the idea. At least in the second volume, the talented and adorable Mr. Hall (Greg, not Monty) rubs shoulders with column upon column of noteworthy persons.

The local papers run columns of community news for the various towns that constitute their readership, and each community has a local reporter. Greg called the Biddeford Journal-Tribune, figuring that he'd get a nice little one-liner in the column for our town, right next to the school cafeteria menu and the Cub Scouts' meeting notes. Was he surprised when the paper sent a reporter and a photographer for an interview and several photos! He ended up in the top right corner of page 1 in last Friday's edition, and the article with a huge second photo ran on page 2.

Of course, we needed to buy several copies for friends, relatives, our bulletin board, and posterity. I stopped into the Irving station and picked up four copies after pumping gas. The cashier looked at the papers, looked at me, and shyly asked, "Do you mind if I ask you something?"

"Sure," I replied, uncertain whether I'd have to give a long spiel about the state of modern classical composition.

"Did someone die? Another lady just left here with another stack of those papers."

2008 might well be the Year of the Man. The 21st Century Masterworks anthology, featuring the orchestral version of his Water suite (the one that was recorded in Prague this summer), will be available in March 2008 in every outlet from Borders Books to ITunes. We never did see a master CD from that session. It might still be in production at this point.

The Sax Quartets CD might be released sometime next year, too. It should have been recorded at Town Hall in NYC a couple of months ago, but the recording engineer has contracted Lyme disease and wasn't feeling well enough to do the sessions. He hopes to get back into the booth and get the sessions going soon. Two of the pieces have already been recorded, and the New Hudson Sax Quartet will get extra time to learn the other three works in the meantime.

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