In March 2020 I wrote this post about a commission I was working on for a chamber trio called Noyo Consort, fronted by trombonist Don Benham (whom I’d met through the Mass for Freedom performance with the Oakland Symphony). I wrote about how the piece had blocked me over and over again, but that I’d finally hit on an idea I felt was working well, and the finish was “just over the next rise.”
Yeah. March 2020. The premiere had been scheduled for summer 2020. I did manage to finish the piece, but a summer 2020 premiere? Not so much.
For a while I wasn’t sure it would ever happen, but I’m happy to report that the stars did align at last! Noyo Consort performed their outstanding recital on April 24 in Mendocino, CA, part of the Opus Concert Series through Symphony of the Redwoods.
The above video is just a piece of Fog Theme, from a rehearsal I attended. If you have 6 minutes and 39 seconds of listening time, here is a complete recording:
Fog Theme was inspired by Mendocino itself, and the beautiful Northern California coast it’s perched upon. That promising idea I’d alluded to in my March 2020 post—after months of struggling with how to handle the combo of flute, trombone, and piano—was thinking of those instruments as layers, like the marine layer we experience here on the coast when the fog rolls in: sea, fog, sky. Each seemingly on its own plane, but connected at every moment and constantly interacting, shifting, intertwining. I imagined a day in Mendocino that dawns with a thick layer of fog, opens to bright sunshine as the fog burns away, then ends with the fog rolling back in for the night.
I was there for the concert with Mindy and Nyx (who helped hand out programs!), and it was truly a delight to experience this Mendocino-inspired music with a Mendocino audience. Along with Don Benham, flutist Mindy Rosenfeld and pianist Jason Kirkman put heart and soul into the piece, and nailed it.
See that church? The concert was right next to it, in Preston Hall. The views: not too shabby.