The Wounded Heart / The Joyful Heart

Writing to Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen for the first time was like writing to an illusive giant - someone you're not sure exists. I'm uncharacteristically intimidated by his massive talent, which seems to have no bottom to its depth, no boundary to its width. But Pelle is very human and that humanness came back to me the next day in a response that made me laugh out loud:

"Sounds very tempting and promising, but it is also a risky business, since I am 81 and also a serious unbeliever, which means that the text is far away from my general habits."

Clearly, Pelle packs a lot into a sentence; he does the same with his music.  Those who hang around with The Crossing will know Pelle's Statements (on our 'music for women' CD), Igen (the mesmerizing "Sun goes up/Sun goes down" sung in 2011), Green (behold the mighty Angklung), and, most recently, Three Stages (with its bird calls and newspaper articles).  Pelle is obsessed with structure (his father was a sculptor) and each of these works is, essentially, a very compact meditation on a single idea, a kind of 'composing out till the possibilities are exhausted' of a strictly self-edited kernel born in his imagination. In his art I hear a perfect balance of objectivity and subjectivity; there is both the elegance of the rich life of the forest and the solitude of the ascetic hermit living there alone. In fact, his music was introduced to me quite a number of years ago by David Lang, another composer for whom structure, simplicity, and clarity allow the listener to engage in a very particular way; they both create unique worlds inside the notes. In Pelle's music there is also humor, while we are aware of a profound gravity grounding it.

Pelle continued in his first email with comments I find breathtaking, demonstrating how his mind works; he immediately began conceiving of his work for Seven Responses. To my suggestion he compose a work that responds to Buxtehude's cantata Ad Cor (To the heart), he wrote:

"Other aspects might survive: the body (heart), the landscape, the temperature, the color, the line, the feeling of pain (and comfort) etc. and foremost THE MUSIC of Buxtehude, which I really would like to deal with."

This kind of thinking about a work - two years in advance - makes me salivate; I just can't wait to hold the score.  Today, anticipating seeing that score's imminent arrival, I get to share a video of Pelle, filmed at his home in Copenhagen, explaining his libretto - what he was thinking, how he conceived it.  In it, he rather unexpectedly describes the essence of our emotional lives, pondering our daily encounters with embraces and wounds, the paradox of joy and desperation living simultaneously within us.

It's a great introduction to the thinking man, Pelle.

the beautiful, wild stampede of my fear

Writing weekly thoughts on the evolution of 7R has turned out to be an interesting exercise – far more textured and complex than I would have imagined.  I have been surprised at just how often our linear trajectory – the ‘idea’ of what our life will be like – is interrupted by life as it actually is.

I had intended to write more this week about 7R production elements – the challenges of assembling so many disparate collaborating personalities and the strange and wonderful connections we discover along the way.

Then, Paris happened.
And Beirut.
And Raqqa.
And an airplane full of Russians on holiday.
And, then, Mali.

I was in Portland for a conference on choral music Friday when I received the word about Paris. After an afternoon concert, I opened my phone to see numerous texts from my partner Steven, as the news unfolded.  Then, I went for a walk around a city I didn’t know, staring through people and places I didn’t see.

It’s funny how these kinds of shocks bring sudden clarity to our lives – a heightened sensitivity; we notice things with greater detail and appreciation.  New love is like that; walking alone at night, we marvel at a solitary crescent moon, and we wonder if he sees it too.  Losing someone is like that; we imagine a brook is speaking to us inside the whispering sound of running water, and we want to share it with someone who is gone, with whom sharing only happens in our memory.  I spent the rest of the weekend experiencing that kind of clarity,while searching for that connection in the choral music being sung; something to share, something to bring relevance, maybe even meaning, to my confused, sometimes empty head. 

I was unsuccessful.  Music isn’t healing for me, the way it seems to be for some.  Instead, great music, delivered honestly, seems to sit down on the bench next to me and affirm my emotional life – yes, elation is balanced with pain; yes, love is base and immediate and dark and complicated.  It’s like a brutally honest friend; I trust it, I love it, but it isn’t going to let up. 

Affirmation: we are alone.  Despite the manner in which emotions are trivialized and demeaned by the feigned collective responses pushed at us in the media, on Facebook, in journals of one extreme or another, we are alone.  Such a paradox – that in this time of extraordinary connectivity, asking the big questions and sorting out the unsortable seems to be left entirely to the individual – to our own minds and bodies and memories.  

This is the ‘why’ of 7R.  We go back to its source - the tiny seed from which 7R springs: noticing the suffering of others.  Not living, or solving, but being awake enough to observe in others that which we recognize in ourselves.  Because suffering – be it the grief or rejection, physical or emotional starvation, or simply aloneness, while universal, is experienced in solitude.  This is the motivation for Buxtehude’s 'Limbs of Jesus': that Jesus, like all of us, died alone. Would that we could kiss each limb and somehow change all that – to be a comfort, to share, to be a friend – and that someone would do this for us. 

The nails in your feet,
the hard blows and such grievous marks,
I embrace with love.

What we do have are our little ideas – our imagination – and the attempt to daily make sense of the nonsensical. To give meaning where there may not be any.  To refuse to accept that and to continue to define our world in poetry and music.  

And, so, I share with you the more recent piece in that puzzle we call 7R: the poem that Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir is setting for the project – a new work written for us by fellow-Icelander and novelist Eva Minervudottir.  Let us give thanks for art and artists, for, in a few sparse words, Eva is able to say what I could not in these seven paragraphs. 

Knees of Jesus
Seven Responses

I fall to my knees
I fall
I fall
I fall
to my knees and ask
forgiveness for
lazy thoughts,
unseemly hunger
and
the beautiful, wild stampede of my fear

I fall to my knees
I fall
I fall
I fall
to my knees and into
the dark haze
of the purple, innocent sky
I fall deep into the sky and beg
for clarity,
true satisfaction
and union of the soul

I give myself up
I give
I give up
I fall to my knees
I fall
I fall
I fall
to my knees and worship
the eternal music

A week in the life of 7R

About the time I was in doctoral school, the common mantra of many musicians was that the audience was quickly disappearing and we had to 'save' classical music.  I didn't understand that; even then, I was surrounded by composers writing interesting, provocative, and beautiful music.  (I guess they were talking about the audience for museum pieces, and I can understand that, because that music, while speaking to us over eras and ages, doesn't describe our world.  The music that does define the world we live in has an audience that, right now, is fueling inspiration of a range and abundance of composition never before heard.)

Look at my weekend: Friday night I conducted John Adams' On the Transmigration of Souls and Kaija Saariaho's Oltra mar at Northwestern University - college students performing complex music with technical clarity and emotional force, with a children's chorus (Emily Ellsworth's Anima) bringing their game to the heart-wrenching and virtuosic part John wrote for them.  This opened a new-music conference with over a hundred composers discussing, sharing, and listening, with many more performances - our students in Ted Hearne's Katrina Ballads, world premieres of more choral works by the Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble (BCE), our ensemble that is fashioned after The Crossing, enough creative energy for a century of composition. In between all of this, I was reviewing over two hundred applicants for a faculty position in composition - two hundred accomplished, inspired composers!  (How will I ever program all these discoveries?)  And, last night, our friend Claire Chase (whose ICE is a major part of 7R) gave a performance of her Density 2036: Part III (a 22-year commissioning project), in which she did practically everything one can do with a flute short of marrying it. It was amazing and so moving!  Call it what you like - Classical, High Western Art Music, Long Hair, etc - it's not dead; it's very alive, it has an audience, and that audience is excited.  (I'd like to think The Crossing may have had a little hand in this, at least chorally.  But, bearing no quantitative data on that topic, I'll just shut up and be grateful.) 

Turning to 7R (a part of my every day) also reminds me of just how alive our music world is: a world of details and thoughts. While, from the look of this blog, it may seem it's been a quiet week on the 7R front - no composer videos from Latvia, no libretto from Amherst - The Crossing never sleeps. In addition to a hugely productive board meeting (in which new Development Director Ben Harbold was on fire!); forward motion on recording projects with Ted Hearne, John Luther Adams, and Lansing McLoskey; discussions about projects for the 2018-19 season; and all the minutia required of our upcoming concert and recording with Al-Bustan's Takht Ensemble and The Crossing @ Christmas (Yay!); our 7R week was full of production activity.

Production activity = a lot of talk, speculation, and rethinking - some stage plots, a number of long distance phone calls, a lot of quiet thinking time.  My long-time friend Brett Snodgrass and I are developing a means to have supertitles legible in two directions in the Philadelphia Cathedral.  Brett's last project with us - the stunning titles for Joby Talbot's Path of Miracles - showed the brilliant connection of his ear and eye, bringing mood into focus with the words.  But, 7R has a LOT of words - it starts with the libretto of the seven cantatas of Buxtehude's Membra Jesu nostri, and continues with the seven librettos our composers have chosen or developed.  It would be eventually distracting to have the level of graphic detail of that previous project in 7R.  We'll find our way; we're not there.  Lighting designer Jiyoun Chang is a great resource and will execute this fantastically, we know.

This was also the week in which we began to bring the disparate ideas of our seven composers into a manageable whole.  Among the hallmarks of contemporary writing is the widespread use and creative writing for percussion instruments.  So, while we may tell our composers we have 15 players with instruments like flute, sax, violin, adding 'percussion' to that list could mean just about anything to them (i.e., invites chaos).  Fortunately, our team - headed by Project Manager Janet Neukirchner and Production Manager James Reese - has been working on this issue for months and now has a list of 17 instruments to be struck, banged, scratched, shook, or otherwise invited to produce sound and unleash their spirit. (Although, 'instrument' can mean 'category' to a composer - a four-octave marimba, an octave of cow bells, various Thai gongs, tam-tams and brake drums, etc.).  ICE's percussionist Ross Karre has been an invaluable adviser and leader as well. (Who knew you could convince a composer to drop timpani because you can get almost the same effect with smaller, more mobile instruments that would therefore encourage - and not discourage - future performances! Go, Ross!)  Janet and James have a big job - transport, rental, trips to the hardware store.  June 24 will come quickly for them.

The list has some terrific instruments that inspire great anticipation for what is to come. My favorite may be Caroline Shaw's request for 'flower pots.' Perhaps the most exotic is the reco-reco (a Portugese word pronounced heko-heko), a metal instrument shaped either like a small shoebox or a dissected cow bell, with springs stretched across; one scrapes it with different pressure and speed. It's a familiar sound to the Samba percussion combo, but not so to other music.  And, who is writing for that? Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, the composer who wryly said to me when we invited him into 7R, "You do realize you're asking an 82 year-old composer to write a work two years from now!?"  Pelle is as young as any of us; the remainder of his percussion list includes chimes, log drum, and vibraslap. Look that up. Fun. (He dropped the guiro and sandpaper from his original list, though our audience knows Pelle's love of guiro from our performance last summer of his Green, which also included the mighty angklung!) 

The detail in projects like 7R offers a micro-view of just how exciting the current world of composition is; composers take so much care in finding just the right sound to express a given point or find a perfect moment: specifying the exact size of sonagli (like sleigh bells), the type of clay in the flower pot, the tinkle of wind chimes (glass, wood, metal?), or the depth of a rain stick. This is a truly joyful aspect of the process - a production challenge and a technicality that may eventually become an unforgettable moment in music and in time. Thai gongs? Composer David T. Little made us smile with his response, "Everything I write these days seems to need them." In that statement he admits that compositions often have a life of their own, and that a creative artist never really knows what they've created until they step away from it and commit to it being 'finished.'

And, so, we acknowledge that our percussion list won't be complete until David has finished his 7R piece in March.  So be it.  Bless the imagination!  The process continues, the ideas keep coming.  And music, in whatever style(s) or genre(s) you want to call what we do at The Crossing, is alive and thriving. 

Voices of the Composers - Santa Ratniece

Because we sing a bit of new music, we receive a ton of scores every month from composers of all kinds (aspiring, established, experimental, conservative) from many countries (Italy, Japan, Canada, Finland, USA), and of a potpourri of styles (modern complexity, minimalism, tonal/traditional, etc.).  Most of these compositions do not fit The Crossing’s ethos for one reason or another – text, length, use of counterpoint, style, but we are honored to receive them and have the opportunity to get to know their composers, if briefly.  I go on instinct when reviewing submissions, while following an informal criteria concerned with the exploration and expansion of our artists and the art and honoring the trust of our audience.  

We also receive a lot of composer recommendations from composing friends and other conductors.  These often come closer, because our friends know our aesthetic and play ‘composer matchmaker’ whenever they can. 

In this ongoing process of trying to find the right programming mix, we often come across a composer we’d very much like to sing.  More rarely, we come across a composer who we feel we have to sing. Santa Ratniece is one such composer.

I was introduced to Santa’s music by our friend Eriks Esenvalds. (The Crossing community knows Eriks from his 2011 Seneca Sounds project, Seneca’s Zodiac and from our performance of many of his compositions, including Legend of the Walled-in Woman just two weeks ago. He’s also the tuned-water-glasses guy of Stars and Northern Lights and needs no introduction in the choral world, as he is now a composing star!)  I was in Latvia, travelling on a grant from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, and I asked Eriks to set me up with "what's happening right now in Latvian music." Typical of Eriks’ crazy generosity, he appeared at ‘the Italian restaurant’ in Riga where he presented me with half a suitcase of CDs – some commercial, some cut off a computer – and an explanation of the composing trends of the time.  In this pile was a CD of Santa’s music, which I brought back to Chicago and listened to in awe. We immediately programmed the USA premieres of her Saline, Chu dal, and Horo horo hata hata – each a very challenging, extraordinarily beautiful work from a compositional voice that was new to me – a voice that is uniquely her own.

Santa’s music exists in a world that seems to acknowledge the tug that tonality has on our ears and souls, but only as memory that lives under the surface of the music; that surface, or ‘present,’ is often a kind of undulating cloud of sound, formed of a variety of techniques that are carefully and ingeniously notated but somehow come off the page in a shockingly effective, alive, and nearly improvisational way.  At times you think you hear an owl in a forest through wind in the trees and the murmur of distant singing, at others you may imagine a distant call of whale from deep within a dark sea of moving water.  But, these are just aural and visual images that the music conjures – for the singers, it’s a series of calculating glissandi; various types of fast, slow, and quarter-tone vibrato; extremes of range and dynamic; and succession of morphing phonemes. 

My favorite work of hers to date is Horo horo hata hata, based on an Ainu prayer; it seems to me it captures our relationship to the natural world and magnifies the distance we are from that world in our increasingly human-centric existence.  There is a certain kind of loneliness in this music that I find profound.  The work begins "Was I dead? Was I asleep?" and then awakens to call in prayer to an owl departing its life; it ends in an extraordinary emotional outburst, as the owl reaches the highest mountain peak before its soul departs the earth for heaven and it becomes a deity.  The silence that follows is ancient and deafening.

Santa’s work for Seven Responses is based on letters of St. Clare of Assisi (1194-1253).  She has made a video, filmed in her studio in Riga, to talk about her relationship to this text; in this brief introduction, we easily receive a sense of who Santa is – and why this gently-speaking composer would be drawn to the kindred spirit of Clare, friend to St. Francis. Her lovely explanation of the journey by which she came to Clare’s words is thoughtful and honest, like her music – music that we cannot wait to dig into, when we prepare in the Spring for Seven Responses.

Hear Santa speak of her libretto below, and read it for yourself here

Elizabeth Haidle

It's interesting to return so often to the topic of 7R, while life continues to whirl around us and the music of that project lies still 7 months ahead.  It's fun, because it continues to spark my imagination, solidifying or modifying ideas. Ideas are The Crossing's friend; we like to treat ideas like little pebbles - we pick them up and play with them, view them from different angles, in different lights, hit one against the other to see what they sound like and how they bounce off each other, throw them into a brook and listen to them gurgle and sigh.  

And so it is with Elizabeth Haidle and her artwork. I've known Elizabeth a long time now, and I've watched her take my ideas and make them her own, tossing them around, throwing them back and forth until she finds just the right feel, the perfect texture, the color that says something no other color would in this specific situation - making a minor adjustment to a shadow or crease that makes all the difference, creating worlds within worlds.  Her drawing abilities are equal to her extraordinary imagination - she sees possibilities in the physical world most miss, and she doesn't have a preconceived idea of how anything ought to be, allowing an idea to grow organically into what it wants to be. We love that. So, when we imagined 7R, I knew it was Elizabeth who had to create the feel,  through graphics and a logo, of what we are trying to say - what the concerts will feel like, what potential lies in the idea.  

For this blog entry, we asked Elizabeth to talk a little about her concept and how it developed.  She shared the sketch book she used while developing the striking logo that features the 7 limbs of Jesus, each of which is addressed in one of Buxtehude's cantatas that comprise Membra Jesu Nostri.

We began here:

Then, we had a number of conversations about the use of the number 7 and the thorned circle.

Elizabeth tells the whole story: 

"I thought about the theme of suffering, which parallels human life as a seeming necessity. And yet suffering can become something beautiful when the darkest experiences yield a deep capacity for compassion. Pages of explorations in the sketchbook ensued: early ideas involved the seven responses as a connecting of disparate parts...from branches with limbs, to threads weaving a knot. Later, I was inspired by the mobius strip, and created one based on the number 7 - a looping and repeating surface, bent into planes and angles. The idea of contrast, of bittersweet, brought to mind the thorny rose. Following the thread of a plant-based metaphor...I realized the crown of thorns would convey this contrast best: of love and suffering combined. The vines, woven, created a border to hold the project's title; the spot illustrations followed naturally, as Donald explained each of the movements' sub-themes. The circular composition references the wheel of life, turning endlessly with themes that are universal to humanity, on repeat."

And Elizabeth added: 

"On a personal note, I am very honored to be included as a collaborator on this project! I hope that the imagery serves to add nuances to the complexity already inherent in this project, the inspirations behind it, and the conversations and connections which will ensue."

We love the final graphic so much, it became the homepage of this microsite, inviting visitors to click on one of the limbs to find out about the artist who is composing the musical response to that limb.  And, without the limbs, the logo invites us into an experience that may be rough, organic, questioning, and beautiful.

 
 

To learn more about Elizabeth Haidle, see her bio and photo on the artists page of this site, and visit her websites:  www.ehaidle.com / www.docucomix.com

Loss

In my first 7R blog I wrote about the value of noticing the suffering of others; this idea was seminal in the evolution of Seven Responses as a project, exploring a 17th-century response to suffering and responding to that (specifically, Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri) from a contemporary perspective – seven composers and their ideas on the topic. My intention today was to continue to look at the individual artists involved, following on Lew Spratlan’s contribution last week.  But, life has a way of presenting us with detours that bring us back to the baser topics of our existence – detours that, in fact, help us focus.

The Crossing lost another close friend this week; Jeff Manns, who has sung tenor with us for a number of years and was just heard in our performances of Bonhoeffer, passed away suddenly on Monday at age 40.  Jeff and I worked intimately together, but we were not close friends; he had numerous communities with rich, close relationships far beyond our work together.  Yet, there is no cliché in saying this is a shock to our community of The Crossing, and the grief has significantly deeper impact coming so soon after the passing of Jeff Dinsmore in April 2014: the two beautiful men shared a name and voice part, were good friends and close colleagues, they were very young and their passing was completely unexpected, they leave behind families and communities that adore them.

I’ve spent my adult life working with large numbers of people (in university choral settings, symphonic choirs, opera companies, and the large community we call The Crossing) and observed early on that, in those communities, life is ever being transformed; at any given time someone is losing a parent, having a baby, marrying, buying a house, divorcing, moving far way, taking a lover or losing one, celebrating a professional triumph or succumbing to crushing depression.  These life transitions are experienced from one degree of separation; we don’t live all of these experiences daily ourselves, we observe them empathetically in each other – in fellow musicians we care about – as they go through these joys and sorrows.  This, I think, is why the passing of a young person from within the community is so strange and confusing; it’s experienced by all of us equally. Sorrow (and anger and fear and chaos) is happening within each of us individually; the degree of separation is gone, but the isolation of grief is very real and the need for community is strangely offset by the inability of the community to adequately answer that which afflicts the individual. We want to do something, but there is nothing to do but feel.  As the poet of Membra Jesu Nostri writes, we are “languishing through the wound of love."

Why is so much art about grieving? My father used to ask this when he would observe that much of the music I conduct is “morose."   I would explain that I don’t see it that way; that, to attempt to describe our world in art allows us to better understand – to better define – our emotional lives.  (I will admit that I usually lost my father’s attention at “describe our world.") To explore sadness and grief, whether it be over death or over love or even an inexplicable, ancient source, is to give some structure to otherwise overwhelming emotions – emotions springing from these life transitions I find so confusing – the deaths, the divorces, the bad decisions, the births, the graduations, the loves.  

The detour of Jeff Manns’ passing – this brutal interruption – reminds me of the opportunity, the value, to contemplate the suffering of others daily, as I recognize it in myself. And, it reinforces my turning to art, in projects like 7R, to give my otherwise confusing, often meaningless, life trajectory a direction – if only to better understand myself and my friends: how we cling to each other, how we experience time – and therefore the idea of ‘our lives,’ what exactly is loss, or joy, and why.

I embrace you
and, lamenting, I delight in you.

-          Ad Manus (To the Hands), Membra Jesu Nostri (1680),
                        from the Medieval poem, Salve mundi, salutare

Next week: a more joyful topic, as we explore the Seven Responses artwork of Elizabeth Haidle.

Voices of the Composers - Lewis Spratlan

Seven Responses: Voices of the Composers

Thoughts from the composers of Seven Responses
Inaugural edition: Lewis Spratlan

Lew Spratlan:   "It also has a Quaker cast to it; always a good thing."

Lew Spratlan. The Crossing just loves Lew Spratlan.  Generous, thoughtful, gifted and giving.  

I was introduced to Lew indirectly through his son, Dan (who, for years, was known as the 'dreadlocks guy' in The Crossing). Dan joined the Crossing in the summer of 2007 when we were in residence at the Spoleto Festival in Italy, memorializing Gian Carlo Menotti. Spoleto Choir manager Rob Phillips had suggested Dan and, trusting Rob's recommendation, Dan and I met at the airport and started an artistic relationship that continues today.

While in Italy, Dan mentioned that his father was a composer, had written a large work for Dan's graduate recital at Westminster Choir College, and happened to have won the Pulitzer Prize in music in 2000 for an opera that had never been staged! This was far too intriguing for me to forget, and, returning from Italy, I set out to learn a lot more of and about Lew Spratlan's music.

I loved it; his music has a directness and a pungency, he easily mixes humor and pathos, he's unafraid to punch you in the gut emotionally and then let you simmer unapologetically, and his music often lies where dreams lie - somewhere between reality and fantasy.  I decided then that we had to have a piece from him for The Crossing.  Five years later, that piece happened: a full concert-length with texts ranging from Wallace Shawn to Richard Feynman, co-commissioned with Network for New Music, and a huge success. The work, Vespers Cantata: Hesperus is Phosphorus - the process, the collaboration, the recording - was an amazing ride of love and work and joy between singers and composer and players and listeners.  Thus, when we conceived of Seven Responses, with its possibilities for rich layers and depth, I knew that Lew's voice needed to be inside the project.  

Lew writes music with extraordinary speed.  Ideas come to him and are committed to paper, fully formed, soon after.  He finished his work for Seven Responses in June - a full year before we begin rehearsals! 

For our first blog outing with composers and their thoughts, we asked Lew if he would talk to us about his libretto from his home in Amherst.  We gave him some parameters and made suggestions about recording devices.  Typically, Lew took nothing for granted - no stone unturned;  he bought a new iPhone 6 for improved video quality and then sat down and wrote out a thoughtful and thought-provoking script that reaches far beyond the boundaries of our project and into the psyche of this man and his ethics, and into the aesthetics and ethos of The Crossing, while explaining how he and poet Paul Kane fashioned a libretto to respond to Buxtehude's cantata, TO THE BREAST.        

Here's that video: 

The libretto can be read here.

And, while we're thinking about Lew, revisit his last commission with The Crossing, Vespers Cantata: Hesperus is Phosphorus, final movement:  "The Afterlife III," based on a chapter of David Eagleman's Sum. (Eagleman is in the news today as well; his new PBS series The Brain debuts October 14!)  

 
 

Thank you Lew Spratlan for sharing your thoughts, your music, and your home with us.

Donald's Seven Responses Blog: Volume 1

Donald's Seven Responses Blog: Volume 1

No one needs me to ‘blog’ about how loss is felt deeply in all levels of the social stratum and the world. While art may not be universal, grief certainly is. The artists of The Crossing 2014 will probably spend the rest of our lives navigating the loss of Jeff. Seven Responses is an unexpected gift to do so with the same anticipation and joy, the same excitement and child-like wonder, as I heard in Jeff's voice the day I called and said, "OK, so, I have this idea about Buxtehude..."