Music and Vision homepage Jenna Orkin: Writer Wannabe Seeks Brush With Death - From the heights of greatness (the Juilliard School; musicians Rosalyn Tureck and Nadia Boulanger) via way-ward paths to the depths of wickedness these reminiscences will entertain and enlighten.

 

<<  -- 2 --  Patric Standford    CREATING 'THE EMPEROR'S ORCHESTRA'

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15 December 2000

Funding confirmed and contract in the post. Probably no harp or second bassoon. Agreed to deliver completed score and a set of orchestral parts on 21 February; performances 22 and 23 March. Surprising how much of a stimulus these practicalities are (though it shouldn't be by now!). Thankfully I have the Christmas academic vacation during which to give it some uninterrupted time. One thing is certain: it must be made up of a limited amount of material used in a variety of ways. Peter and the Wolf is economical, whereas Poulenc's Babar is an extravagant and therefore unmemorable score. I'll go for Prokofiev. They have taken my point about footballing narrators and are now in pursuit of Richard Whiteley.

23 December 2000

With the story typed out again, trimmed a little in places where there are too many words, and with cues for music indicated, I can now see the whole plan of the piece clearly. There will be recurring 'themes': one for the orchestra at its best (opening), adapted for nostalgic remembrances and for eventual return to glory; another for the Princess, who is the cause of the complaints and the attempted remedies; and one for the Emperor's adviser, who must recommend remedies. Among these design stabilisers will be woven short contrasting 'episodes' -- the royal proclamation; attempts of three composers to be interesting (a march, a romance and a waltz); and the discovery of the piping woodcutter. The proclamation music, designed as a stately dance suitable as background for narration, could also be designed for re-use, but the others will only make single appearances -- substantial miniatures, but not part of the thematic whole. The feeling of having three clear weeks for concentrated work is a strong incentive. Still no response from Richard Whiteley's agent.

30 December 2000

Good progress, though little actually fits together yet. I have concentrated on the fragments ('better than the other bit you played, Dad, but there's too much narrator -- can't you cut out the boring chat?' Critics!) No from Richard Whiteley. They are apparently trying for Ross Kemp from Eastenders as narrator. I suggested Richard Wilson would be far better for this kind of story. Or Pete Postlethwaite. He's done similar things with the Grimethorpe band, I'm told.

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Copyright © 15 May 2001 Patric Standford, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, UK

 

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