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Perfect Music Coming from Imperfect People

Enjoy this marvelous video from historian and Bach-expert John Eliot Gardiner about J.S. Bach and his very human imperfections.

Bach, the orphan rebel, had a suspicion of authority that ran deep throughout his life, and made him an often domineering and unpleasant person to deal with. Gardiner doesn’t see any contradiction here. “The very fact that this music is so profound and so uplifting and the man is clearly not a saint makes it all the more interesting,” he says.

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“Faces in Foam” Complete!

I’m always pleasantly surprised when a composition has such a life of its own that it can dictate to me when it’s ready to be finished, and when remaining themes reveal themselves to be ripe for a separate and new work. 🙂

Introducing Faces in Foamtheme #5 in THE BOOK OF I Project!

This is certainly a complex work, on so many levels! Musically, it calls for string orchestra; solo violin (played “Ethnically,” no less); percussion (timpani, suspended and crash cymbals, tambourine); AND… a boy soprano… singing in Latin… <3

He (in emulating the innocent and forgotten Lucio, the “little death”) sings toward the end (in the demo recording you’ll simply hear a piano plunking out the chant-like melody…. Very soon, though, that’ll be a voice…); he sings from the Alma Redemptoris Mater, a text originally written around the 1000s AD for the Catholic Advent and Epiphany mass:

Alma Redemptoris Mater, quae pervia caeli
Porta manes, et stella maris, succurre cadenti,
Surgere qui curat, populo: peccatorum miserere.

Sweet Mother of the Redeemer, the passage to the heavens,
The gate of the spirits of the dead, and the star of the sea, aid the falling.
Mother of Him who cares for the people, have pity on us sinners.

This abridged set of quotes below, taken from Jorge Armenteros‘ “The Book of I,” aptly describes what I was going for in this work:

The woman sits at the edge of the cliff looking out to the sea…a daughter of North Africa perhaps. Her cheeks reflect olive light. She looks at me, carving her face in my memory…the step towards the rocky edge…I listen to the lines forming her face…I return to the melody still dancing in the air…
Lucio…had a delicate face…sharp angles, oblong eyes, and a classic Greek nose. I saw his face before the rocks disfigured him…he has the face of the forgotten… I try to paint him… I take a Renaissance approach, depicting him in a diaphanous light, like an angel…
I know those faces are…around me… They joined the sea because they had no other choice. Their faces are washed of past concerns. …If I…attempt to render them as ex-living people in my canvas, the white foam is quick to reclaim them. That is why all my canvases turn white–the frothy sea swallows them.

I really love how this installment has turned out! It is so driving and passionate and diverse…. It will be truly a delight getting to hear this performed live!

As I mentioned above, I had also started ideas for the next theme, which I call the “Everyman Theme”… I’d originally conceived it as a part of this present work. But, after much reconsideration — and the naturally beautiful unfolding of the end of “Faces in Foam” — I discovered, rather, that this theme will introduce my next installment fantastically well–it’s the perfect entrance for the next work!

I am thus eager to get off-and-running on Theme #6, titled: The Elusive Everyman and Her Majesty….. Stay tuned for more! This album (the composition portion of it, anyway) is fast nearing completion!!!!

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ALLUSIONS, Reviewed in American Record Guild

The collaborative album “ALLUSIONS,” on which my string quartet Anima Mechanicae is a feature, was just reviewed by the American Record Guild (pertinent portions from the review graciously emailed to me from PARMA).

Of my work:

Anima Mechanicae: Soul of the Machine by Sarah Wallin Huff is a solid string quartet that begins with constant forward propulsion but slowly unwinds to lighter movement with plucked accompaniment. Sweeping, connected motives become the concentration toward the conclusion. — American Record Guild, Jan/Feb 2014, pg 245

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Conquering LilyPond

Woohoo! I am so stoked to announce that I have finally finished the complete engraved rendering of the score and parts to my latest composition, Of Roses and Lilies!

I have been working hard to learn the coding language necessary to operate LilyPond, and after completely hacking away at this particularly gigantic score, with the need for idiosyncrasies in notation related to keyboard, vocal lines with lyrics, strings, and woodwinds, I have emerged victorious! I would not have put so much effort into mastering this program, if the resulting sheet music didn’t look so beautiful and professional! On top of that, in regard to formatting the score/parts, whereas graphical notation software continually presented some bugginess in the output, even after having completed the final product, LilyPond’s formatting is essentially automatic, with the flexibility to adjust each aspect as necessary. To simply type in what is needed and then render and receive an automatically beautiful output, is completely worth the effort it took to learn how this coding works! Plus, now I feel pretty smart, lol. (^‿◕)

And now, Of Roses and Lilies has been added to my sheet music collection for sale! Check it out at my Sheet Music Store!

of roses score sample
“Of Roses…” score sample
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The Final Recording Session (for now)

Yesterday’s recording sessions were a fabulous success!

Counterpoint Invariable went like clockwork– the three talented ladies who played it nailed it nearly every single take, and they made the work come alive in ways I could only have hoped for!! (In fact, the producer of these two recordings had this to say of the violin trio: “I got totally lost in the 2nd movement of the trio for the simple reason it was so very lovely – really very special.”)

And, as I’ve mentioned, Gypsy Wanderer sounds thoroughly amazing! Passionate, on fire, beautiful… All the emotional moments in the work come alive and were captured for all to hear soon.

Keep your eyes out for news of the release of this album— you won’t want to miss the final product from all this work, seriously… It’ll be available really really soon, within only a few more months!!!!! ヽ(^o^)丿