Monday, March 28, 2011

Composers day music party

Late last year a friend had asked me to reserve March 26 in my diary, which I duly did. March 26 finally arrived, and what happened? Well read on and find out.
Every year, a composer's day music party is held, during which the complete chamber music of a particular composer is played. But my skills on the fiddle are non existent, and my piano playing remains far inferior to the requirements of even the easiest chamber music. In addition to this, a group of friends is called upon to gather around a piano and do a complete on book performance of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. Such are the demands of this undertaking, that this is the first party I've ever been involved in that had a dress rehearsal the day before!
On the day the weather held, and arriving at about lunch time, I snuck between hordes of string players, set up in every room, valiantly attempting to play all of Haydn's chamber music in a single day. One room was stacked with music cases, there could have easily been a hundred people in a modest sized family home.

At the appointed signal, all unassigned musicians disappeared into the back yard, where stands appeared and were arranged, and the complete overture was played through of "The Gondoliers", twice. Just to make sure. After that our trusty pianist and keyboard, braving arctic gusts of wind and the threat of imminent rain, began the show. The Gondoliers is slightly peculiar in that there are two almost entirely separate casts that do not meet on stage until the finale, so in between singing (I was singing the role of Giuseppe, an eligible bachelor gondolier whose charisma 'shamed the summer skies'), we huddled at the back and shivered resolutely as a couple of children singing the roles of the Duke and Duchess of Plaza-Toro stole the whole show. Each of the main characters has a song, and mine appeared early in the second act, a typical G&S patter song making fun of the concept of a republican monarchy (where republican retains its literal meaning). After that, there is a tradition of singing an updated version. The Gondoliers had last been performed in 2001, and at the dress rehearsal, my predecessors in the role of Giuseppe sang an outrageously funny version about Bush II, who I believe was still a suitable target for humour at that stage of his presidency. Thus my time between the dress and the performance was spent in feverish rhyming, the semi-successful results of which are at the end of this post.

At length we reached the final chord, obtained divorces from our on-stage spouses, ate enough food to immobilise us, then headed back home to sunny Pasadena. Coincidentally it was also on this trip that I learned that the Arroyo Seco Parkway was the first expressway ever built, in 1940, which explains its hair-raisingly dangerous corners and 10mph off ramps.

In all it's not every day that one has a party that one has completed a dress rehearsal for, but I certainly wouldn't object to more in the future!

To the tune of "Rising Early in the Morning" from The Gondoliers (, updated politically.

Rising early in the morning,
We supress needs nicotine,
Then, rememb'ring Michelle's warning,
breakfast burger - extra lean!
I stroll to the oval room,
In the face of impending doom.

First we double check that Clinton
Is still spying on the UN;
It's best to keep an eye on all those slimes
Then if we want to see some foreign
Former classified addendum
We simply have to read the New York Times.

Then we probably take aim at wikileaks
Anonymous and Assange are total freaks.
Now Manning is exposed at Quantico,
The arabs can know cablegate's fair go.

As for Bush and all his phoneys,
Thugs thieves criminals and croneys
I think it's most appropriate to keep them all immune.
Such privilege executive
Rendition, torture, right to live,
Wire tapping sans a warrant - they are too good to impune.

Contemplating reelection
Watching democrat rejection
No need to fear a threat by a rethuglican candidate.
Bachmann, Newt, illegitimate
Conservative illiterate
Or Palin just for LOLs, such would be perfect fate.

Oh, Colbert, Maddow may whine,
That the problems are all mine,
Yet the legacy is frightful and the obligations great.
But the privilege and pleasure
That we treasure beyond measure
Is to blame it all on Hillary, the Secretary of State.


Casey Glick (who sang Luiz) contributed a second verse on similar themes, just to show us how it's done.

In the evening reuniting
Cop and teacher who’ve been fighting
Racist fears suppressed by glass of beer or three.
I’ll take my birth certificate
(I’ve reproduced in triplicate)
Conveying it to pundits on TV.

Then I’ll work to stop an ultimate relapse
Of the global economical collapse
Or intervene in Middle Eastern State
Which Newt derides as early and too late

Appeasing Dems, an order signing
A new Health Care law confining
‘bortion rights, insurance premiums, approval in one blow
Though I found quite ineffective
An executive directive
To fulfill my campaign promises to close Guantanamo

Then appointing Justice Kagan,
Signing treaties just like Reagan,
And desperately taking steps to mollify my base
All the while I’m interacting
With a GOP impacting
My chance to be the President who first transcended Race.

Oh conservatives complain
Of my socialistic reign
And the lib’rals think I’ve given in to “blackmail” sans a fight
But the culminating pleasure
That I treasure beyond measure
Is the comedy induced by all those idiots on the Right.

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