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(no subject)
everyday story
I had a disorganized and frustrating rehearsal last night where neither musical nor logistical concerns were handled very well. It was the kind of near-fiasco that you sometimes get in performance disciplines that brings your colleagues (your cast, your ensemble members, whatever team is enduring the nonsense together) a particular kind of camaraderie.

You look at each other and think “can you believe this?” and try to do what the director wants instead of what he says, or quietly and conspiratorially undermine and overrule the incompetent choreographer, who subsequently thinks your success was her idea, or you sit on the floor and keep each other company while others rehearse things you’re not in, despite the fact that if the rehearsal had been organized by ensemble size instead of program order, half of you could have gone home an hour ago.

so despite the frustration, it’s in these kinds of situations where you get the most bonding. I have to say I haven’t felt as accepted/supported/included in as long as I can remember, than when… just this:

a lull was over and it was back to the madness, and a tenor, my favorite tenor, who regularly slays the entire choir with the gently supercompetent and hyper-elegant quality of whatever solos he’s assigned, who had been sitting in the pile of haphazard chairs pushed to the edges of the room for rehearsal with the band, offered me a hand up from where I sat on the floor with a weary “come on,” and looked back to make sure I returned to the chaos with him.

(no subject)
everyday story
Hey, y'all, the TOS updates are hella shady, so I'm picking up what remains of this journal and taking it to DreamWidth, which is the same platform but open-source and not shady, with more features, at https://sanura.dreamwidth.org . The content I have here will remain up, but everything on it has been mirrored on DW and I will now update there and not here. (Though to be fair, my tumblr http://rionsanura.tumblr.com/ is far more active).

(no subject)
everyday story
I was just telling my mom the other day, in anticipation of bringing two nonmusician friends and an aunt who has sung in church choirs to the Symphony Christmas Pops she got us comps for, that "music getting me into the Christmas spirit" is not really an attribute that I contain at this point in my life. She agreed. It's a bit of a job. I've been doing it for over ten years. Maybe fifteen. Not that I didn't enjoy the symphony concert, or bringing my friends to it, or hearing Jessica and Santino Fontana; I did. I liked the new pops conductor, and approved of both his conducting and his charisma, though I was sorry to see Krajewski go. It's just not really in me to hear Christmas music without analyzing and/or comparing it to my fairly extensive experience.

Tonight I heard the King's Singers' Christmas show. I actually skipped a concert-week pre-dress-rehearsal to go.

It's not that I forget what it's like, though of course the experience is never as immediate in memory. I just can't continually reexperience the memory. There is nothing like knowing what you are doing, to a fairly high degree, and watching people do it who are pretty nearly the best in the world at it. All these things, that you know are hard, you know exactly how hard, from personal experience, and they're executed flawlessly, or with tiny, generally-imperceptible flaws you know the difficulty of masking and have known yourself to share, and you never have to worry that the pitfalls you know are in the music or the text will catch them, and you never have to worry that they won't make it to the end of the phrase, and you never have to worry that the cold you can tell someone is nursing will overcome their balance in the mix, and every other bar there is a feat of ensemble or individual musicality of a depth to make you sigh and slouch in your chair with sheer relief of musical tension, except that you know more moments are coming, the entire performance is made of them, and if you move you might miss one.

It's not that it's Christmas music, though I do think the 2006 Christmas album is among their best ever, and I am therefore sentimentally attached to every piece of repertoire on it (three of which they did tonight). But the commitment of performers to the premise of any performance will improve my relationship to it, whatever it is. And there is an awful lot of high-quality concentration of arrangers, composers, and poets on the subject. I do feel more Christmasy now. But I feel even more King's Singersy, which is an even rarer and more special occasion.

They stayed after the show to greet and chat, and were immensely sweet and gracious as usual. We introduced ourselves to the new soprano. My mom grabbed a Typical Parent Embarrassment opportunity with both hands, in the middle of explaining we were summer school attendees, when she realized she had literally said we were "camp followers", to say, you know, if she had the chance... Hopefully Pat will not hold it against us. I am not sure he knew how to react. Julian, whom we'd met in Dallas, has grown into the tenor spot admirably, and was sweetly shy when I told him so. Johnny, Tim, Gabbitas, and Bruiser were all appropriately excited for me when I pointed the overleaf to them. Because, look:

As I said to them, "feel free to scribble on yourself. That's you... and this is me." Bruiser and Johnny in particular were excited that it was this coming weekend, and asked me to point myself out despite the tiny size of the choir in the photo, and asked what the rep was. They were appropriately enthusiastic for Ceremony of Carols, and I told them a little bit about Dominick to explain the premiere of his men's Verbum Caro Factum Est.

They are sweet as I remember them, and even sweeter Tim, whose new kid has perhaps mellowed him a little bit (and given him something to talk about with my mom). It makes a difference in the performance, when the guy at the end throwing faces at you thanks you after the show for being there to throw faces at. One more exemplar of my heroes being real humans and that making them even better heroes.


Telephone poetry with extended family
everyday story
I don't know if you guys know the premise of telephone poetry, but you sit in a circle and write a line, pass it to the next person, and they fold it over and write the next line, and every time you pass you fold it over so only the previous line is visible. Here are my favorite examples from this evening's exercises.

Your carbuncle is oblong, my frangible queep
Yet I zither and hither, beyond your sleep.
My brain works overtime
And my thoughts are so sublime
What would happen if you put the coconut in the lime?
Disaster would rain upon this blasted earth.
For truly, what is such filth worth?

They walk as if their shoes have wings
But Mercury had fleeter heels
Than those of Zeus
Hercules isn't strong enough
It's made of tougher stuff,
And I know that it will never fail
Despite any negative preconceptions I might have.

No one is as alone as she thinks
Actually, she is even more so because life is pain.
As it seethes through her frame, she writhes in distress.
The caterpillar transforms
The cocoon lies dormant
Under a blanket of cushioning leaves
Which were rated highly by all IKEA customers.

The evening sun beams brightly through the trees
Oh Lord, there are no bees!
The trees can't make it without them.
The bees, they buzz eternally
And they always try to string my knee
With all their woeful weapons to my sorrow--
Will there be a tomorrow?

Woe is me; ice cream up to my knee caps.
It is so cold, I should run laps!
The cold brings on the onset of the season of ginger snaps!
As well as that of the bandersnatch
Yet when the wind whips 'cross my face
I wear a ski mask going downhill
And a veil back up.

Thinking of tigers breaks the silence
And lions cause turmoil
The leopards were in an uproar while the lizards were in a downpour
And the torrents disturbed the wild boar, but that we could safely ignore (NOT!)
We knew we were doomed, so we froze in fear
The whistling terror, drawing ever near
Grabs everyone's attention.

Antelopes and cantaloupes swish;
They shall grant my fondest wish:
A fish filet in Satan's dish
Can be the most amusing pie
Pecans are not very funny, but pumpkin is;
They are both great pies,
But one of them is full of lies.

As I guzzle pails of lard
In the chicken yard
I'm feelin' sad
Not happy or glad
But ever so dadly
As he is wont to do
But never did, through and through.

Encroaching fog from evening gloom
Creeps ever nearer to your doom.
Your doom is never too far off
Watch out! Better not cough!
Sensitive noses can't handle it.
The stench is so overbearing;
It's stronger than all their herring.

The blood of the Titan drips off of the sword's blade
As a gentle breeze wafts among the Hessians.
My eyes, they flit t[w]o and fro [sic]
In search of what I'll never know
Beyond the confines of my brain
The  world is so very plain.
We should paint rainbows everywhere.

The bear slumbers and snores
His stomach rumbles and roars
Much like a dinosaur's
It's even greater than before
To infinity and beyond
Yet never sideways
But always on top!

Although it is hotter than hell, I am still wearing my pants.
My coat melted into a puddle
Which, when combined with arsenic, makes a muddle
A staggering slurry, in a poison puddle
Equal only to my heart's contents
And multiplied by my wildest dreams
Thoughts of grandeur eluded me.

Love, how sweet thou art my dear husband.
Yet, I fear we must part tonight
Despite the swiftness of our flight
We shall not arrive, prior fall of night.
Because our stupid car ran out of gas
We couldn't go to the festival
So home we sat, just we two.

The sun's harsh rays, on my naked scalp
Turn my follicles to wasted pulp
And wreak havoc upon my scalp
Those blades of them Injuns
Slice through their saris
Burning them to the bones
Yet not dislodging them from their thrones.

The tainted well feeds unclean thoughts
To all the souls who drink from it
The stars twinkle above
The silhouette of the dove
Flutters past my waking eye
Like a beautiful floating plastic bag
It swirls through my thoughts, unwanted, yet comical.

The purple glimmer of the paint
As distance grows, it grows faint
I can only see it with one eye closed
Yet to look away would be to go blind
A beauty so vast I am blessed to find
Myself alone in all the world
I want to cry, but my eyes were purled.

What happens to the leaves of trees
When the wind blows down the hill
My glass of water threatens to spill.
If only it had not been filled
And all its great potential wasted
But not all is for naught
Not all green things will turn to rot.

What is that smell? It wafts from every drain.
It must be some half dead, rotting brain
Fish sticks are driving me insane
It hurts to surf over them
But the sharks are even scarier than they are
With gleaming eyes of hollow souls
Like the inside of a film canister.

There is nothing to be done about the blob.
Yet the longer we wait, the stronger it throbs.
Like a blistered foot trapped in a boot
The medic tossed in the hat
And said, "Well, that is that!"
Then he walked away
Only ever to be seen again by cats.

I shift into overdrive and zip to the lead
Driven solely by my need for speed.
The ruts  hinder my progress
Because they hide mud that consumes my tires
I gun the motor in a futile display,
But everyone recognizes my desperate and obnoxious pretension
And thinks the worst of me for it.

As I ran through fields of golden wheat
I knew I hadn't had enough to eat.
I must muster my strength from some other source
Perhaps from the Red Bull I drank today.
The worm at the bottom winked at me
The beauty of downing a bottle of tequila
Has never been better represented.

Acting tough, it makes it hard
To admit to your mom you are a bard.
In your shocking departure from the closet,
Your face was hidden by a stray hanger
And your form obscured by jackets.
That lovely hourglass figure
Has lost all its sand.

My sporty car enhances my mood.
It makes me feel like one super cool dude!
Which is to say, very good
And not at all bad. Quite satisfactory.
The glimmering, dancing taste is divine
For it is stars upon which dine
The galactic monsters sublime.

(no subject)
everyday story
Today is the day we leave (if we can pay all the bills and get the insurance to apply to the car), and yesterday was the day we (I) bought a car. An electric lime Prius c3. It's got enough room to put stuff in to take on a trip. It's a good car, so far. I may call it Charlotte, to go with Reggie's car George.

I am very much looking forward to the trip. Aaron told me recently, while I was rehearsing for the carmina concerts this weekend, that soon I will be alligator palm tree dolphin conch sun. I intend to be.

Those carmina concerts. Andres Orozco-Estrada is my favorite symphony conductor to sing for. He's silly, friendly, extremely detail-oriented, and artistically insistent. He will make fun of you if you do something he doesn't like, but not in a mean way, and he will repeat something he's not sure about until he knows if he does like it. He's so joyful about conducting, and I am so invested in the piece anyway, that there were several moments even in rehearsal when I was struck with tears.

The other tear-jerker moment was the last night's encore, which the Colombian Youth Orchestra (who played this concert side-by-side with the symphony) played Irish Blessing as a surprise for the Houston players, and took out Colombian flags. What a good. There were so many youth players taking pictures with their Houston player mentors after the concert. It was adorable.

I have rarely been more involved in a concert, even the second one where I was overtired, and it's a combination of the compelling AOE conducting style and my 15-year obsession with the piece. I legitimately do not have to look at the score at all, though I occasionally turn pages for effect, and I have never had a better opportunity to consider and express the words, which are so good I learned them in middle school and still occasionally write them down for fun.

So it was a marvelous concert series, but I am now glad to be going away. We'll see Gail, go to her apparently amazing chiropractor, and I will go on to Orlando, where there are roller coasters, swamps, and friends.

(no subject)
everyday story
The performance art piece that Eric came to Houston to participate in was a project by Susanne Bocanegra, whom I know from her connection to her husband David Lang (who wrote the Little Match Girl Passion that the chamber choir sang a couple seasons ago). Her project, held at the MFAH, was very cool; it's called Bodycast, and it is a sort of autobiographical narrative about her experience wearing a body cast from age 12-14, and the influence it had on her art. It includes excerpts from some other pieces of hers, including a ballet interpretation of a chart of dot counts in a Seurat painting and a song composed according to an equation a mathematician made to describe a yarn organizer she got at a garage sale. Eric sang the song. It was pretty cool.

After the show, Reggie and I waited around for Eric to come out, and were about to go upstairs and look at some art when Eric called me back. We had got through introductions and were about to catch up and maybe go eat some food, when an old man with a commanding presence interrupted and asked if Eric was the one who sang. He was. The guy must have thought Reggie and I were just there to congratulate Eric on his singing, and wanted us to finish our conversation before he did his spiel, but Eric informed him it'd be awhile, as I was an old buddy, so he should just go ahead.

And so this guy introduced himself as An Artist with a gallery in the Heights and an HBO special about his art, which is composed of unclaimed ashes from crematoria apparently, and he wondered if Eric would be interested in composing a ballad to go with one or more of the six pieces he was currently working on. A death ballad for death art. And he really wanted Eric to see it right now so he could tell if he would want to participate in it. He said he'd drive Eric to his gallery and right back or his hotel or wherever he wanted to go. Eric looked at me I think to confirm the weirdness and see what I thought, and it looked like a significant opportunity if this guy wasn't a total nutcase, so I told him he should go, and he should text when he got back and we'd see about hanging out later.

I went to Hobbit with Reggie and didn't end up seeing Eric again on Saturday, but Reggie and I had a good hang (that is still a new enough regular occurrence that I have to savor it thoroughly). I also mentioned the story to Aaron and admitted text message wasn't the best medium to tell it through, so when Reggie and I got back from getting frozen yogurt (I had a craving), we Skyped with Aaron and tried to explain the day. I think we got the kind of surreality across, and it was good to see and talk to Aaron and introduce him to Reggie.

Sunday was the chamber choir gala, for which I Dressed Up. We had to sit with the donors this year and eat dinner sociably, and I wasn't exactly monopolizing the conversation (I was at a table with Joanne Ritacca, who can tell a good few namedropping stories), but I think I managed to be reasonably charming. And a bunch of different people (most effectively Michael Walsh, who is always nice to me but whom for some reason I believe when he gives me compliments) told me I looked great, so I suspect the outfit was a success. I even wore heels and makeup. Imagine. Or don't, I think there must be a picture around somewhere. Reggie told me to take one, so there should be one from before I even left.

We schmoozed and hors d'oeuvred and finally got to sit down to the salad (heels are not my favorite thing to stand around in), and converse pleasantly with our tablemates. It had been planned that my table would also be manned by Erik, who is one of my favorite people in the chamber choir, but that was before Brad realized Erik was on the MS-150. So, no. No gala for Erik. But it was all right, anyway, and then they did the little Rusk Elementary program plug and we all went up to sing and my pick flew out of my hand on Stomping Bride but I think I thumbed the strings loud enough anyway, and we went back and got our weird dessert, and it was finished.

And Eric was back at the Lancaster, which was only two blocks from the Rice where the gala was, despite the thunderstorm pouring. I walked it happily, and in heels no less, and got to just lounge around with Eric for several hours till I had to flop on home so I could get up for work in the morning. He walked back to the car with me for an adventure, which was lucky, as the cathedral garage had closed for the night. But we conquered it with teamwork; he raised the gate by main strength, enough that I could slither underneath it and click the Open button so he could get in too. It did open automatically when I drove the car up to it, though.

So, an atypical weekend full of oddly displaced friends and surreal conversations. It was strange but good.

(no subject)
everyday story
Two nights in a row I have strapped a mattress to the top of Reggie's car and helped him move it to his new place. That sounds like a euphemism, but I'm not sure what for. It's just good to accomplish things with him, even if they're things anybody could do. Although I think he probably would have been too scared to put them on the roof if I hadn't been there with my specialized knowledge of knots and leverage (I do not have this specialized knowledge. I guessed, and I am pretty good at tying things together, so it worked out). I also just really like putting furniture together (ikea prefab is especially satisfying, but a king mattress with two boxsprings and a collapsible frame is its own party).

(no subject)
everyday story
Well, I am glad that particular church season is over.

And excited to do Symphony of Psalms with the chamber choir. I actually texted a chamber choir friend who couldn't make the first rehearsal, explaining how sad I was he was missing it because it is such a beautiful thing and even reading through it was making me cry.

And this after getting to lie around in my room showing it to Reggie, who had never heard it. Jeez. And I got to have late Chapultepec with him after the easter vigil service last night, too. Some things are going really well.

(no subject)
everyday story
A morning with Susan and Jayden, an afternoon with Joodles walking the High Line. Yesterday dinner with Joodles, Thursday with Bryan, dinner with Ben, Bryan, Trevor, and Trevor's friend Adam, late evening with Trevor. It's the best kind of college reunion up in here.

Wednesday mostly on the bus, but some time with Brent and Tony.

Monday will be lunch with Eric and Liz, Tuesday night is Ben's final doctoral lecture-performance, Wednesday I bail for Boston again and see Roomful of Teeth with Kyra. It'll be amazing.

(no subject)
everyday story
Just had my first rehearsal with Paul Hillier. He's pretty good.