Jacob Heringman, lutenist - Diary
London, Sunday, 14 November 1999, 15.31
First diary installment since 30 October! How time flies! Besides which, my computer was out of commission for a couple of weeks. Luckily, the HDD was replaced under warranty, and Iím nearly up and running normally again, with the exception that I temporarily havenít got a web browser, and also that I seem to have lost hundreds of emails in my filing cabinet and in basket during this crisis (as well as a whole file of correspondence with DGM accumulated over the last year and a half, alas!). So I havenít read the diaries of RF, Andrew Keeling, Matt Seattle, etc. in ages, and feel completely out of touch!
Life has been busy and exiting. I believe that last time I wrote, I was about to go to Chicago again, for more concerts with the Newberry Consort. That was a good trip, and Iím finally over the jetlag now (having been back six days now and having already done two concerts in faraway corners of England since returning). An interesting coincidence: my Chicago gig on the 7th of November fell on the 30th anniversary of KCís 7 November 1969 Chicago Kinetic Playground gig! So I listened to all of Epitaph vols 1-4 in honour of the occasion. (I had two free days with my brother in Missouri before the Chicago dates to relax and indulge in such luxuries.) Some glorious moments on those discs. Itís been said many times before, but I really think KC live is KC at its best. The most wonderful "moments" from KC live recordings could never be recreated in a studio, however many takes are attempted. This fact--that magic can happen when the performer is in the presence of a living and breathing audience, if both performer and audience are open to it--inspires me in my live performances. KC live recordings are a useful reminder of this fact. In this way, KC inspires me as a performer, despite the fact that Iím in an utterly different medium.
My performing life is tremendously varied at the moment, which I love. In Chicago, we did a programme of English lute songs from Shakespeareís time as part of a (very long) evening in which all of Shakespeareís sonnets were read aloud by actors. This was part of the Chicago Humanities Festival. Then, on the 7th (only a week ago today! can it be!?), a programme of renaissance Spanish, Portuguese and Sephardic Jewish music. Iíve done plenty of Spanish music, including two records for ASV of songs and vihuela pieces by Luis Milan and Alonso Mudarra (two absolutely wonderful mid-sixteenth-century composers), but the Sephardic music was new to me. A wonderful New York based singer by the name of Mark Molomot sang these haunting tunes, and we instrumentalists improvised accompaniments.
Then, on 9 November, a programme of Holborne (whom I recorded as my first solo album, also on ASV, just before I joined DGM) in Shrewsbury with the Rose Consort of Viols, including, to my delight, Susanna. Itís always wonderful to work together. Then, yesterday, a concert with three other musicians, based around the famous and wonderful painting "The Ambassadors", by Hans Holbein. This included a slide show and some spoken information along with the music, and we did the concert in a fabulous converted Tudor barn in Suffolk. This wonderful venue reminded me that the space makes a huge difference to the performance: firstly, the size and acoustical properties are right for what we do--since old instruments are delicate they can sound thin a space thatís too large, whereas they sound gloriously full in a smaller space with a good acoustic; secondly, the building is of the same period as the music, and that makes a big psychological difference to players and listeners. It somehow grounds and contextualises the music. I found myself at one point playing a lute solo during this concert, and relaxing completely, and enjoying myself completely, and being in the moment completely, and feeling the audience and the space and the music and the instrument in an integrated way. And then it was gone. But itís a glimpse of what can happen. Itís why I make music. Itís how "moments" such as the ones described above happen.
Now, some days at home. Hooray!
London, Sunday, 22 November 1999, 09.05
Itís St. Ceciliaís Day! For those who donít know, she was an early Christian martyr, and has been a patron saint of music since the fifteenth century. If this were seventeenth- or eighteenth-century London, there would be great musical festivities today, and leading composers would write new works for the occasion. Iím celebrating the occasion by going off to County Durham this morning for four days of rejuvenation. Susanna is already up there, and Iím off to join her in an hour. Weíll walk in the hills, and get some sleep, and try to forget about work for a few days.
Iím just back from a 24-hour flying visit with the English vocal group I Fagiolini. Theyíre a very talented and hard-working a capella group, and they do music of all kinds, from renaissance to contemporary. They have a wonderful ability to captivate audiences, which they certainly did in Madrid. I was there in an accompanying role.
The musical year is slowly winding down for me, and itís been a very good one, possibly the best yet. Just a few more concerts before the end of the year (see concert diary), and Iím also putting the finishing touches on the final master of the new DGM disc (or I should say Adrian Hunter is, with my help). This disc is a matter of great excitement for me, as researching it has been an ongoing project for four years or so.
And now, to Darlington, and thence to Baldersdale!
London, Tuesday, 30 November 1999, 18.33
Iíve just finished listening very carefully to the final master of my new CD for DGM, to be released in the spring: Josquin Desprez: sixteenth-century lute settings. Iím very pleased with it and will arrange tomorrow to deliver it to DGM World Central in person. Hooray for the demon producer/engineer Adrian Hunter, who has done the most phenomenal job of guiding me through this recording, and who has edited it magnificently! Now to write the programme notes and think about the cover with Hugh. Itís got to be an economical cover, as I have to pay up front for it, out of an empty pocket (see recent entry in Paul Richardsís Diary for details of the unusual but fair arrangement that DGM has with its artists).
As Iíve said in this Diary throughout the process of of recording and editing the CD, this is a very exciting moment for me. Itís the first CD ever to be devoted to lute settings of Josquin, and itís the culmination of about four years of research and preparation, and itís the most beautiful music Iíve ever heard. Iím excited to have been the first to do it, but Iím mainly excited to have done it at all. Itís a great joy to study and to play this music, and judging from audiencesí responses so far, itís quite nice to listen to as well. Now, if I can only make the world notice it, somehow. . . .
Yesterday, Susanna and I went to "Katzís Kitchen" to record Andrew Keelingís beautiful duet which he wrote for us as a wedding present: "One Flesh". Tomorrow, Iíll try to do an edit plan to give to Dill Katz, and very soon weíll have a master copy of that, too. By next year, perhaps DGM fans will be listening to it on disc!
Now I have a couple of days to try to cope with the overwhelming amount of admin thatís built up during this busy time.
Greatly enjoying the newly-added Diaries, and following Crimís progress through and musical and technical jungle of creating something new.