Hilltop Diary, November 22, 2019

It has been over a week of mostly low-grade colds here at Hilltop, and we’re about ready for that to abate altogether, perhaps after a few more days. Crystal and I are thankful to have each other to alternately nurse each other from moment to moment, though she’s had to power through teaching school all day, while I get to work at home on my projects. We made dinners easy this week by cooking a whole turkey breast we could eat all week with veg from our farm co-op. But Crystal seems to wave her wand and produce remarkable cakes for special meetings of the teachers, which they gobble up and rave about. I get to lick the beaters.

It was a pleasure talking to Michele and Todd on Los Angeles Catholic Radio about my book, The Sound of Beauty. You can see and hear a replay here, starting at about the 25 minute mark:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYTcI52ziyc

Today I’ll be live on “The Catholic Current” with Fr. Robert McTeigue airing in eight northeast and mid-west states, at 4:30 Central, 5:30 Eastern, at:  https://www.thestationofthecross.com/

UPDATE: Today’s interview is now on podcast at http://s3.amazonaws.com/TheStationoftheCross/Podcasts/TheCatholicCurrent/2019/November/TCC-112219.mp3 starting at about 29 minutes into the program

I recorded a video interview with “Rome Reports” about the book, which will appear soon on their site and in their TV markets, stay tuned if you watch them.

I’m excited to announce that four days ago I signed a contract with PARMA Recordings (who issued The Sea Knows) to release a new album of my newest works in 2021.  Details will, of course, be shared as they come up.  Here is a mockup of a front cover design that I will give to them, but their art department will then create a much more impressive and beautiful one, like they did for The Sea Knows.

My musical theater show, Dear Miss Barrett, is now being considered for a production in Vermont, and we’ll just wait and see if the theater gives us a go for summer 2020.  This would give us the first chance to do a fully staged production of the entire show and get a good video of it to show other producers. Stay tuned here for any news, and on the Dear Miss Barrett page on this site.

Work editing the third movement of my symphony continues, and I’ve been secretly tinkering with writing a novel, but only written about 5,000 words during the odd spare moment, which I guess isn’t so secret now. We shall see in a year or so if anything worthwhile comes of it. No, you won’t get a peep about what it’s about, till then, if ever. Not to jinx it.

I’ve been gearing up a bit for my return to teach my last semester at Vanderbilt University before taking an early retirement to stay on top of all these projects, and got my new syllabi posted online this week. It will be spent teaching five private lessons in composition a week plus two courses:  Orchestration and Advanced Orchestration, both concerning the thing I most enjoy doing myself, composing for orchestra!  That will take a few hours on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and the rest of the week will be devoted to, you guessed it, composing for orchestra — the last 12-minute movement of my 44-minute symphony (see album cover above). For the advanced class, I ordered and received my fresh copies of three scores we will study:  The Planets by Holst, Daphnis et Chloe by Ravel, and The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky. I own these but needed to buy the same edition that the student will have, so we can all be on the same page, literally.

This week, I finally finished reading The Two Towers, second in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, whew! Now enjoying, before moving to the third book, Frodo’s Journey by my friend Joseph Pearce, a Tolkien expert, to learn more about the symbolism in the trilogy. I tried to listen to Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday on CD’s from the library, but the smooth British accent of the man reading it proved to be an instant way to go to sleep, literally, even during the day, so I gave up. I recommend it to cure insomnia, though! Will try to read the book instead!

So where do I find the time for all of these things? I’m blessed to have more time during 9 to 5 than many people and am not raising children, but it is still true that I have to do things like “turn off the TV”. Especially cable news can be a waste of time, because it often is repeating the same things over and over with nothing new to report. Try to use the time you do have to its best advantage. I have found that my prayer time each day does not detract from the time I have to do things, but somehow seems to multiply it, maybe because it gives me the peace of mind to be more productive.

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