Sandcat Lullaby

A few years ago, my wife Daci and I heard a nice piece performed by the Chicago Symphony: In the South (Alassio), a concert overture by Sir Edward Elgar. Writing on vacation in Italy, Elgar made use of a Neapolitan folk song in a delightful episode led by Flute, Viola and Harp. Daci was so charmed by it that she asked me to write her a lullaby for that trio.

Planning a surprise for Daci’s birthday in late January, I secretly undertook composition of the trio a few months ago. Sandcat Lullaby was finished two weeks before the day, leaving just enough time to arrange its first performance. The online platform GigSalad really delivered for us, offering a great selection of musicians, and we were able to choose from among several offers.

Sandor Cat, 1996-2012The “Sandcat” story is simple: one of our cats, Sandor, had a Sandman’s magical gift of sending Daci off to sleep within seconds after lying down on her shoulder. Who better to invoke in the title of a lullaby?

Circumstances dictated a remote performance. Harpist Nichole Young-Luchs was my contact and handled all the logistics, including bringing her friends, Jennifer Gosack-Darwell (Flute) and Colleen Kuraszek (Viola) on board.

The fact that it was a remote performance didn’t diminish our musicians’ professional demeanor a bit; they dressed for the concert hall. And their performance was a joy to hear; all that a composer could wish for. To say that the surprise succeeded doesn’t begin to do it justice: Daci was plainly bowled over. (As birthday surprises go, I don’t know how I can ever top this one!)

As an extra bonus, Colleen set up a couple of microphones and got a much better recording than Zoom provided. You can watch the video here, as well as on my homepage.

I can’t thank Nichole, Jen and Colleen enough for their enthusiasm, support, and their terrific performance. My hope is that one day we can get together and capture a high-quality audio/video performance for general release. Needless to say, I would work with any of them again, at any time.

Carving in Shadows
Meanwhile, work continues on two eyes cast down albums: a second duo with Chris Russell, and a tribal/vision-quest journey. Both albums are turning points for me, as I’m finding my own sound, throwing off old habits and the obvious influence of other musicians. This is another effect of writing the guitar symphony After the Sun last year, which abruptly marked the end of my musical apprenticeship.

The tribal album, Carving in Shadows, has had a very long gestation: concerts in 2012 and 2015 featured drafts of five of its twelve pieces. Completing these five is the first step, in progress now.

Carving in Shadows looks to be a double-CD, and will be submitted to Steve Roach’s Soundquest Music label for consideration.

Work in Progress
Alongside the eyes cast down projects, composition continues on two songs: Sanctuary Song (Choir & Piano) and To Whom They Belong (Choir, Organ & Percussion)… and another surprise song.