Tue 28 Sep 2010
I debated with myself for exactly one second about whether or not I would mention the extreme amount of dead air this blog has been piping out for the past few months. First instincts were against it, as mentioning dead air has all the usefulness of telling someone who chortles quietly to themselves to pipe the fuck down with the assistance of a megaphone. But then where to send the unwashed masses who clamor for such vocubularic gems as, “wailing major seventh pinch”, “out of the piano like a bad smell”, or “duck fat enema”? Upon whose robust stoop would they lay down their offerings, only to scamper away to a safe distance lest they be smotten by linguistic acrobatics?
You may or may not know that the composer, John Estacio is set to have his new opera, “Lillian Alling” premiered next month. He gave a brief talk in the UBC recital hall on monday, with Stephen Chatman dutifully playing a tempered James Lipton to Estacio’s Keanu Reeves, where he spoke briefly about his writing process and his career path. The later was the most interesting to me and as the majority of seats in the room were occupied by fellow baby-faced composers, I don’t think I was the only one.
A not-so-brief word about that….
Estacio does not have a normal career. Fresh out of school (Okay, 3-4-5 years out) he manages to get picked up as the composer in residence for the Edmonton Symphony for a 10 week stint which eventually becomes 8 years. I’m going to re-iterate that for those of us who go to great pains and financial expense to have an orchestral piece read through: 8 years of having all his orchestral music played. Scratch that, I’m still not doing it justice. 8 years of having his orchestral music REHEARSED AND PERFORMED. I bet you could literally make grad students bare-knuckle box in a pit filled with human excrement for an opportunity like that.
This is really nitpicky but I feel like I have to play devil’s advocate for just a second here, if only to distract the reader from the depths of absurdity I’m willing to go to for a laugh. This will paint me slight shade of pessimistic but my stomach turned a little at the thought of Estacio being held up as the model. Don’t get me wrong, I love that he’s been able to do what he does. I also love that it’s him that has been able to do it. He seems like a genuinely nice guy without a huge ego that can follow a lot of successful artists around like a bad smell. It’s just that to have someone who has taken this completely unrealistic career path come to an institution that can be quite fairly accused of glossing over certain details in managing a career in the arts and not have the conversation qualified with a big BUT struck me me as a bit… hmmm… icky.
Where ELSE is Estacio going to go and give a talk? It’s not like he can fill a stadium with people awestruck by the light glancing off his majestic forehead. He may as well speak at the institution in town that caters the most (And most enthusiastically) to his craft!
(Ahem…. the CMC anyone?).
In the end, some questions were asked that nobody really listened too or thought much about and we saw and heard an excerpt from his first opera, “Filumena” which looks and sounds stupendous. I must have the DVD.
Fulton’s “Revolutions” is getting performed on friday by the Cantata Singers and Turning Point and I’m driving myself insane choosing between that and a musica intima concert where they’re performing one of my favorite pieces by one of my favorite composers.
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