It’s hard to believe that our time in Citta di Castello is already coming to an end. The week has been a whirlwind of composing, rehearsing, presenting, to say nothing of the sightseeing, eating, and drinking! Tomorrow we head to Rome for a few days off and a day of recording at the University of Tor Vergata.
Last night was the first of three performances here in Citta. The Namaste Ensemble (and its individual members) gave highly committed, world-class performances of works by 7 composers including new friends Charles Nichols and Orlando Lengame. The performers’ professionalism and stamina were put to the test since they had to play in a space that was well over 90 degrees! Lisa Naugle’s DTM2 dance ensemble also performed with grace, energy, and control. A special treat was getting to hear two different pieces by Mauro Porro, an Italian composer whose name was unfamiliar to me. Prof. Porro’s works are very engaging: he he reconciles modern ideas of structure and organization with a truly heartfelt sense of lyricism. His Fukushima Suite and Quartetto di primavera oscillated between wrenching violence and delicate poignancy to create a constantly dynamic musical experience.
Our performance space, the “Sala degli Specchi” is right off the main piazza, which provided easy access to last night’s festa. Businesses stayed open late, DJs played dance music, and everyone was out and about. The Italians have made an art of seeing and being seen, and the craft of the casual greeting is one carefully honed over the centuries. You’re excited to see your friend in the crowd but you don’t let it get out of hand; there are plenty of other things to be passionate about later in the conversation…like soccer, or wine, or gelato, or truffles, or Germans.
I gave a brief talk on my work this afternoon: putting my new piece Lingua Franca in the context of a body of work stretching all the way back to New Resources, which I composed in 1999! I was also able to share some snippets of the Three Blake Choruses as well as Ritornelli Scuro e Sconosciuti in its entirety. After my talk we lunched at a small trattoria near the scuola di musica. Like all the others so far, the meal of farro salad, fried gnocchi and prosciutto was simple, unadorned and completely satisfying.
My mornings have continued to consist of blissful composing sessions in an abandoned room on the third floor of the scuola. For three or so hours each morning it’s me, a piano, and the pigeons that are roosting on a window sill across the via. I compose for about twenty minutes or so, then I take a little rest to poke my head out the window to watch the passersby and the little cars that go zipping down the narrow street at breakneck speed. Despite the distractions I’m making serious headway on my new piece for Bill Staub and his consortium (more on this to come!).