Archives for posts with tag: orchestral musicians
Edgar Degas - Orchestra Musicians - Google Art Project

“Orchestra Musicians” (1872/6) by Edgar Degas [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

From the archive, a poem about playing in an orchestra. If recollection serves me correctly, we may have been rehearsing a seldom performed Tchaikovsky symphony.

My ongoing relationship with music has also inspired:

And a – a poem with a boogie woogie beat
Nightstar of Sirius – written during a jazz concert
We stayed up late and waved our sticks about – as told to me by a fellow concert-goer while queuing for proms chamber recital tickets at Cadogan Hall
Nos Liberavit – a poem about the joy of song

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Star of Sirius, lapping Star of Sirius

Yesterday my poem “And a” was inspired by a CD of The Best of Boogie Woogie. Quite coincidentally, on June 3rd last year I posted a poem I’d written many years ago in response to a piece at a jazz concert.

Music has long been a source of great enrichment in my life. Playing in amateur and student orchestras during my younger youth, I spent wonderful times in the company of musicians. I still play my viola, though my endless attempts at Kreutzer, Mazas and Bach are at present only for myself and my neighbours. I listen to BBC Radio 3 obsessively and have discovered spotify playlists. For writing and typing, I often return to a rotation of predictable material: Miles Davis “Kind of Blue”, Depeche Mode, Crystal Method, Fever Ray, Gotan Project, Putmayo’s French or Italian Café. Bachata playlists are a current addition. It helps that many of these tracks are strong on rhythm and known so well to my ear, that they don’t distract me from the task at hand. Sometimes I try to sing along, but my lyrics tend to be surprisingly inventive. This is a poetic license of sorts, I suppose.

Thanks to the immense generosity of friends and happenstance, I have enjoyed some of London’s finest musical offerings: LSO and LPO concerts, ROH and ENO opera productions, Cadogan Hall and Wigmore Hall chamber recitals, opera at Holland Park, renowned string quartets (Kronos Quartet with Laurie Anderson, the Borodin Quartet playing Stravinksy) and free recitals of many kinds – a Polish jazz trio at the Yamaha showroom, Guildhall student recitals, a cellist streamed playing in a boat suspended above the Southbank Centre. At such performances, I’ll often pull out my notebook. I did so recently during a performance of Verdi’s Requiem at the Royal Albert Hall, simply to note the sensations that the music evoked. These included “a bold shadow on the pavement” and “Christmas pudding alight, then served with custard”.

In Night-Star of Sirius (of 2008), my poetic associations were more pointedly directed by the piece’s original title. I have since become more relaxed about allowing associate creative disciplines (art and other literature, as well as music) to trigger a seemingly unconnected creative response. After all, a poem may form yet from the moment towards the end of Verdi’s Requiem that is as “a napkin laid down after a satisfying meal”.

Wikimedia Commons image under an Attribution Share Alike 3.0 license. Author Jeff Dahl.

We hammered it in the sforzando bits,
chiselled it to master tempi,
phrased it gently where the lilt shone through.

While counting down the repeats
we tried to love
the symphony seldom played.

It was our oboist who noted
during the tea and smoke break:
the favourites remain the favourites
for a reason

In my twenties I often played in student orchestras, amateur orchestras and, on a few rare and special occasions, professional/semi-professional orchestras. It was hard work, but in the furnace we had great fun and often developed a wonderful sense of camaraderie.

Sadly, my musical memory is not good and I cannot remember which symphony might be the germ of this poem. This is probably just as well.

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