The composer-written program note can be the bane of a program editor’s existence. I say “can” because there are definitely composers who (a) understand what is helpful and interesting to the listener in the audience, and (b) can really write. (And there are some composers who get (a) and just need some editorial help to massage the words.) I don’t take such composers for granted and it is always a pleasure to come across a program note that’s engagingly written and appropriate to the character of the work and the context of the performance and its audience.
I came across such a note this week past and will link to it just as soon as I’ve published it, which is likely to be at the end of January or very early February. This note made me smile all day – let me count the ways:
- It was – as a piece of writing, of “rhetoric” – well-crafted.
- It was the right length.
- It had a refreshing candour and rang with honesty.
- It was good-humoured and intelligent.
- The tone was well-judged (the musical work is short and wouldn’t have borne laboured analysis).
- I could see that it would lead the reader to be well-disposed towards hearing the piece, as well as, in a couple of clever and discreet ways, directing attention to tangible aspects of the music worth listening for.
And while this should have no bearing on the matter at all, I couldn’t help but be further impressed by the knowledge that the composer-writer is 16 years old. A talent to watch on all fronts.