Sucky Wonderful

What a disastrous, wonderful evening!

Here’s the background: tonight was supposed to be my broadcast interview (and Andrew Ravensong’s) on Colorado Public Radio on Colorado Matters at 7:00 p.m. So we got together, tuned in on our PC (since radio reception of CPR in Fort Collins sucks the Big One,) had a fabulous dinner with free-flowing alcohol, and huddled around the PC and its speaker extensions like a family huddled around the Marconi during WWII. I half expected exhortations to “never, ever, ever, ever give up.”

Turns out that the program was on Colorado Spotlight at 7:00 p.m., and no matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t get it over the PC (and did I mention that radio reception of CPR in Fort Collins sucks the Big One?)

So we listened to someone on Colorado Matters yammering with a British accent about the X-15 and burning up at Mach 20 and a whole lot of other stuff just as totally disappointing (under the circumstances,) and as 7:00 grew pale and 8:00 grew bright and solid and dead-ashes-cold, we came to the conclusion that we’d missed the show.


We cussed in our various ways, dialects, and languages (I’m rather fond of Hugh Grant’s riff from Four Weddings and a Funeral.) My youngest son had parties to attend — for him, it’s still Christmas. The rest of us took the dog on a chilly hike around the townhouse circle under a glorious almost-full moon while trying to remember what star formed the eye of the constellation of Taurus (Aldebaran, correctly asserted by one of our tribe), and its spectral class (K III, and I claim “close” because I said it was a red giant), and how the heck do you pronounce it (no one got that right, though some of us guessed correctly it is from Arabic).

When we came back, we poured more celebratory alcohol and played ridiculously music-geeky YouTube videos (e.g. Giles Apap’s incredible cadenza to the Mozart Violin Concerto #3, one of my all-time favorites.) P.D.Q. Bach sorts of things. If you don’t know who P.D.Q. Bach is/was, you probably would not understand why we were howling with laughter.

Then I played the Missa for those present from my personal stash of recordings.

My oldest son bailed after the third movement. “I want to hear this live,” he said. “And the second movement is VERY difficult to get right. I understand why the choir wants more time to rehearse it.” He wanted to be a composition major, but let the UNC faculty talk sense into him (I speak here with bitter, if resigned, irony.) He took the California Zephyr in from Chicago just to come for the concert tomorrow night. He and Marta went to the garage to retrieve an air mattress.

His mother — my former wife, who flew in from Minneapolis for the concert — and I listened through the last two movements, both of which will be performed tomorrow. Both movements reduced me to tears. Maybe it was the Bloody Mary. But I always have a hard time really listening to the Missa without tearing up.

I never feel like any of my music is entirely mine. It comes from somewhere else, and I’m merely a channel. It honors me. It humbles me. I wish I could hear it more clearly. But I’m glad I hear it as clearly as I do, and that I have at least some of the talent and training needed to write it down.

Tomorrow’s concert will be grand….