Hilltop Diary, May 3, 2023

It’s hard to believe two weeks have passed so quickly since I last wrote here. First, I made the 8-hour car trip from Nashville to New Orleans with a colleague to attend the gala premiere of a new documentary film I am in, “The Meaning of Music” produced by a group called The Vigil Project. There were several hundred people in the auditorium, and it was a little surreal to see myself on a big movie screen for the first time. I’ve done any number of TV interviews and watched them later, but this was scary. Then, along with a few other people in the film who were there, I was asked a couple of questions and put in my two cents on a live panel discussion. The production values of the film were very high and the live audience very warm. Great experience.


What’s more, our hosts gave us a lovely walking tour of the French Quarter, and though I have been to New Orleans a couple of times before, I saw some cool things new to me, like the historic Bevolo gaslight company where you can watch them hand-make the real copper gaslights that have given New Orleans its romantic glow for decades. Now they make them on order for homes, and you have to hook them up to your natural gas line or propane. Too pricey, but I would love one. They reminded me of the show Gaslight that Crystal was recently in.


Then we set out to hunt down some fabulous raw oysters and found them at a place called Drago’s we had been told about. The oysters were huge, and only about $1.50 each, compared to $5 each for small ones back home! Best oysters I’ve had in memory, and the weather there was like summer, while Nashville is still chilly!

Back in greater Nashville, with friends, Crystal and I attended a live musical theater production of the classic show, The Sound of Music at Center for the Arts in Murfreesboro last weekend. Of course, the film version’s scenery is spectacular, which is the one thing you cannot really capture on stage (the show originally premiered on stage), but these singers were really good, and the music that I have taken for granted for so long revealed its superb beauty again and moved me greatly. I really think that the title song is technically the best crafted song in all of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s catalog. That is a bold statement, I know. This is the same theater, by the way, that has scheduled my show, Dear Miss Barrett, for March 2024.

Coincidentally, this coming weekend it’s off to the New Orleans area yet again to see a different group of people! This time Crystal will come with me, and again by car. Not in the mood for airplane travel lately. I’m giving a talk on music for an entirely different organization, the Third Annual Congress on Art, Culture, and Trade sponsored by the Veritas Radio Network. I think a few hundred will attend from all over the country. I gave my talk a funny title, “How to Play the Piano in Ten Easy Lessons and One Hard One.” It will mix a lot of humorous anecdotes about my life in the music profession with some serious points.

This is the network that airs my radio show on classical music on some broadcast stations and on their internet station. Following my talk on classical music, Crystal will sing a few musical theater songs for them, to kick off the cocktail hour before a big Cajun dinner on the second night of the congress. It’s also nice just to get out of town again and have a four-day trip with my wife, driving down on Friday and back on Monday. We’ll feed the cats prior to departing on day one and feed them upon returning on day four, and they can fend for themselves with enough food left out for days two and three. Our cats don’t get the kind of separation anxiety that dogs get, so short trips like this are okay.

During my talk, I will play for the audience a recorded mockup/demo of one of my shorter new ballet pieces, the scene in which the lead character, Raffaella, hands out roses to the children of the village. The virtual orchestra actually doesn’t sound too fake. You can hear this piece by pressing the play button below (I recommend headphones or good speakers). I have posted this piece here before, when I wrote it, but hope you enjoy it again.


The days since I last wrote have been occupied with all the usual domestic chores, indoors and out. I’m happy to say that after seven weeks of waiting, our new garage doors will finally be installed today. And with all the rain we’ve had, I have already been back to the never-ending job of mowing.

For a while I’ve had that feeling I always get, the feeling that new music is now brewing again down inside me, and I expect it will begin to spill out of me soon. In that regard, I can now tell you that some of my family were at the Covenant School in Nashville during the shooting (unharmed), and the school has responded with warmth to my offer to compose an elegy for the victims, to be performed perhaps at the one-year anniversary of the tragedy. If I can find an appropriate text, I’d love to make it a serious classical vocal work for operatic soprano and solo cellist, possibly to be backed up by the school’s children’s choir and organ or strings. We’ll see. However it ends up being scored, my publisher will print a dedication to the victims and to the school on the front of the score for others to see, if they perform it later. But for now, I’ll also be back to working on my ballet project.

Ta ta till next time!

Web Analytics

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s