Days and Nights Festival in Big Sur/Carmel, a fairly remote location which you have to work at seeking out, a theme that has been one of the running threads in the composer's life. This year the festival included performers from Tibet and Mexico, two of the cultural traditions that have most influenced him.
Golden Bough Playhouse, which has a tenuous link to the original leftist Bohemians who flocked to Carmel in the first three decades of the 20th century who created radical art of every sort, including theater.
Pacific Repertory Theatre. The ambience was strikingly reminiscent of the rich women's Monterey Peninsula TV miniseries, Big Little Lies, and brought back amusing memories of the subplot involving Reese Witherspoon and her adulterous affair with the theater's artistic director while fighting Laura Dern over the suitability of presenting Avenue Q.
"If you're not a minimalist, what are you?" many have asked over the course of my career.
"I'm a theater composer," I reply.
That is actually what I do, and what I have done. That doesn't mean that's the only thing I ever did. I've written concertos, symphonies, and many other things. You only need to look at the history of music: the big changes come in the opera house. It happened with Monteverdi, with his first opera, L'Orfeo, first performed in 1607. It happened with Mozart in the eighteenth century, Wagner in the nineteenth century, and Stravinsky in the early twentieth century. The theater suddenly puts the composer in an unexpected relationship to his work...Once you get into the world of theater and you're referencing all its elements—movement, image, text and music—unexpected things can take place."
One afternoon I arrived with my usual stack of counterpoint—at least twenty very dense pages. She put them on the music rack of the piano and began to speed read her way through them. At one point she stopped and caught her breath. She looked steadily and calmy asked me how I was feeling.(Pictured above are actors David Poznanter playing the sadistic prison guard and Michael Mohammed the condemned prisoner between a double-header of performances on Sunday afternoon and evening.)
"Fine," I replied.
"Not sick, no headache, no problems at home?" she continued.
"No, Mlle. Boulanger, I am really fine."
But now I was getting worried.
"Would you like to see a physician or a psychiatrist? It can be arranged very confidentially."
"No, Mlle. Boulanger."
She paused for only a moment, then, wheeling around in her chair, she practically screamed at me, while pointing to a passage in my counterpoint, "Then how do you explain this?!"
And there they were—hidden fifths between an alto and bass part.
There were countless moments during my years in Paris where Mlle. Boulanger or Raviji passed on to me insights about music in particular and life in general. It was if I had two angels on my shoulders, one on the right and one on the left, both whispering in my ears. One taught through love and the other through fear...And, between teaching with love and teaching with fear, I have to say the benefit of each is about the same."
Click here for his "Dark Bio", one of the greatest artist biographies ever, starting with "ROBERT ORTH is the best baritone in his price range.")