Hilltop Diary, July 28, 2020

Weathervane atop HilltopWelcome back to my little “Hilltop” that we named after the famous home of Beatrix Potter in England’s Lake District. Here is one glimpse of ours, the beautiful, bright-copper weather vane on our house, which we found a few years ago on a trip to Maine.

Since last time I wrote, we happened to catch a wonderful documentary about the late Tasha Tudor, another famous children’s book author and illustrator, who lived to a ripe old age in a world of her own making in “Corgi Cottage” (she had Corgi dogs) on her idyllic farm in Vermont. There is a really beautiful website about it made by her family (Click HERE.)

With temperatures in the 90’s here in Nashville and no rain for days, the deer were drinking from our birdbaths, and the gardens needed a lot of water but we all got through it pretty well till some rainy days returned. We’ll be putting in a few new flowers this week, as a few of the previously planted ones fade away. But that is because it was their time to do go – they are perennials and should return next year.

I found this to be a nice metaphor for my music. I want to write “perennial music” and not “annual music” – that is, music in a timeless, traditional style that people might like to hear again later, and not bizarre-sounding music to be heard just once now and forgotten. I can hope for a perennial rebirth of at least one of my pieces, due to this amusing story:

Some years ago now, in 1996 to be precise, the state of Tennessee had its big 200-year anniversary of its statehood and built a state park called the “Bicentennial Mall” in Nashville (see short video HERE). Each of the 95 counties of the state created a “time capsule”, a sealed, metal cylinder about three feet long and a foot wide, to be buried and dug up and opened in another hundred years, in 2096! Davidson County (Nashville) kindly included in their capsule, along with various documents and memorabilia, some of my music!

Along with a CD by Garth Brooks (Will anyone find a CD player in 2096?), they buried a paper score to my second string quartet, one of my early “perennial” efforts at bringing back emotion, melody, and tonality to classical music. (It is now available on New World Records through Amazon, etc.) I wrote this piece while living a previous November at the MacDowell KirbyColony, an “artist colony” in New Hampshire, cloistered in the same little cozy cabin in the woods where, fifty years earlier, Aaron Copland had written his famous Appalachian Spring — intimidating but inspiring! There, with a beautiful, historic grand piano that took up much of the space, and no phones or computer, you could compose in solitude, and meals appeared silently on each artist’s little front porch in a picnic basket, as did firewood for each cabin’s big stone fireplace. Here is a photo of that studio, called the Kirby Studio, which doesn’t really show how isolated out in the woods it was.

Back to Nashville — By 1996, my quartet had been widely performed, recorded, and broadcast nationally and was raising the eyebrows of all the right people for being so scandalously melodic and traditional. Meaning well, they warned me that I was risking being blackballed by the modernist intelligentsia (i.e., themselves) and not getting tenure. (I did get it, but barely!)

So, the state archivists had my quartet score and parts printed on acid-free paper and vacuum-sealed in plastic, for good measure and placed into the capsule, and it was sealed and buried in a great ceremony. I have always figured this could give my music another shot at being discovered, if it has been long-forgotten by 2096 when they re-open the capsule. No doubt, out of curiosity, someone will perform it in their futuristic 2096 clothing and hairstyles, perhaps in a new concert hall on the moon. And maybe a Kurek revival will begin on the moon! Ha-ha! It could be like the great Bach revival in 1856, when his music finally became famous for all time after he’d been dead and completely forgotten for eighty years (not to compare my music to Bach’s!).

Since my last entry, both of our cats had a trip to the vet’s for their checkups. Noah is getting too skinny and Oliver too fat, so they prescribed a single miracle food (prescription only) that both cats can eat, which somehow is supposed to cause one to gain and the other to lose weight! It was $47 for a modest size bag of such miracle food, of course. Ouch. However, Oliver has struggled for several days since with an apparent infection and has had to go back for antibiotics and pain-killing shots a few times, hiding out in various private nooks in the house, with no small amount of sympathetic suffering by his mommy (Crystal), too. I hope very much that next time I can report a full recovery.

Crystal and I are now both in class preparation mode, she for her change of teaching job to St. Edward School, and I for my one-hour-per-week online courses on “The Great Composers” and “Basics of Music Theory” for Homeschool Connections, with both of us doing Zoom software training online. My first article as a paid columnist, for The Epoch Times, was accepted and will appear in mid-August. And my close friend who is a professional editor has been kindly working through my novel and offering many great, expert tweaks to tighten up the action. And finally, last week, I had an all-day gun safety course and managed to pass both the written and shooting range tests! I guess my old boy scout training finally paid off. It isn’t easy being a renaissance man, but SOMEbody’s got to do it, right? Speaking of which, many home improvement chores for the summer remain, like cleaning out the gutters, not to mention finishing the last movement of my symphony.

Screenshot_2020-07-31 Ignatius Press - https www ignatius com The-Sound-of-Beauty-P3352

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