A few years ago, I met a professional classical piano player by the name of Jeffrey Biegel. We had an enjoyable conversation about classical music and kept in touch thereafter. He later wrote and asked if I would write something for piano and orchestra to be played at an engagement he had with Orchestra Kentucky, an orchestra centered in Bowling Green, KY.
At first I declined, thinking I could never do anything serious like that, at least not without writing obvious stuff. But some ideas began to roll around in my head, and I sat down to play them on the keyboard with the computer catching what I was doing. Lo and behold, strange stuff I that liked emerged. What I’ve put up is the actual performance by Orchestra Kentucky, with Jeffrey Biegel at the piano, recorded January 26th, 2015, at the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center.
There’s a sculpture outside St. John the Divine cathedral in New York City. It’s the symbol for the sun, you know, a disk with little wavy rays coming off it. Only instead of every other ray, there were animals, like a wave then a giraffe and a wave and a hippopotamus. Like that. That helped me to see that the era of the abstract was over, that what was replacing it was traditional images juxtaposed in strange and interesting new ways. That in turn gave me permission to use the kinds of music I knew how to write, only mixing and (mis)matching the various parts.
So that’s what I did. I named the piece “moderato ma non troppo.” If you ever took music lessons, you know that an awful lot muscial direction is in Italian, so I gave my piece a name which in Italian means “moderately, but not too much.” Sort of like having your steak cooked medium but not very.
I did use some abstract stuff, but I hope not too much for your enjoyment.
I never thought I’d do something like this, and it was a tremendous thrill to hear what I’d written performed by about 65 musicians…all at once!
I hope you enjoy it. If not, blot it from your memory and we’ll never speak of it again. If you do, tell your local orchestra that they very much want to play this piece.