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Friday, January 28, 2011

Time and Music

"If I only had the time, what I would write for your delight ..."
-- Gordon, "Heart and Music," A New Brain

Plays & Players' production of William Finn's A New Brain has almost closed, though my job as musical director really ended on opening night. For the first time in at least three years, I'm facing a college semester with zero theater commitments on the side.

This is a very, very good thing.

About a week and a half before A New Brain went up, I realized that the main character, Gordon, is essentially ... me. A gay male version of me who has an arteriovenous malformation in his brain. He begins the show as a neurotic, insecure, highly strung, ambitious composer who never has enough time to pursue his real passions and frets about achieving his artistic goals before dying or losing his talent. His lover Roger is Gordon's complement, a calming presence who unequivocally loves and understands Gordon (even when Gordon is stressed, bitchy and/or selfish), and adores his frenetic energy while remaining wonderfully outside of it.

I can't believe it took me so long to notice. (I suppose it was because I was so busy.)

Of course, after Gordon's near-death experience, he re-evaluates his priorities and finds a new appreciation for taking the time to experience life. The show's hit number, "Heart and Music" becomes "Time and Music" before the final curtain. A New Brain itself was my brain aneurysm; by the end of the rehearsal process, I was resolutely committed to quitting all of the distractions that take up too much of my time -- time better spent with my husband, composing, reflecting, relaxing(!) -- and focus on what's important. Thus, when a plethora of near irresistible side-project opportunities were spread across my path this past month, I learned to say NO. NO NO NO. Even when asked twice. Or three times. Even when the offer flattered me. Even when it was excruciating to refuse.

I know, lame, right? Complaining about having to turn down opportunities. But now ... I have time to complain. And to blog about complaining.

That's not to say that I'm sitting around meditating all day or something. The American Opera Theater's production of the Gonzales Cantata opens next week in Baltimore (Get your tickets!). The Simon Carrington Chamber Singers are releasing a CD containing "What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach?" on February 8 (check iTunes/Amazon etc. for mp3's after that date). On February 13, the Immaculata Symphony Orchestra is premiering Overdrive, an orchestra piece I wrote over the winter break (I zoned out and spent 38 hours straight doing nothing but finishing it a couple of weekends ago). Anti-Social Music is performing Handshake (a piece I really like, but which I've never previously been able to have performed outside of West Chester University) at the Zora Art Space in Brooklyn (my first NYC performance!) on March 4. The West Chester University Mastersingers are singing "What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach?" on March 20. I need to write a solo violin piece and maybe a string quartet. I need to start looking at my upcoming giant opera project. I'm planning on developing a non-classical act with Matt this spring. I still teach. Oh, and I still go to classes.

But no theater. You have no idea how much more time that gives me. Time for music. Time and music. And with Wellbutrin and a great therapist pulling me out of the slump I was in last year, I am brimming with optimism about the next six months.
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