Regular readers may recall that when I started this blog, I was the choir director and organist at a small town Episcopal church in Upstate New York. I loved the creative work and the core singers whom I now consider some of my dearest friends.
But certain aspects of the job were tedious. I used to spend a fair amount of time cajoling volunteers into showing up for choir practice. Palestrina is sunk without participation, and you can’t pull off Mozart’s “Ave Verum” without at least a couple of basses and tenors. So I used to compose a weekly e-mail, such as:
“Dear St. Luke's choir member,
Cary Ratcliff writes by leaps and bounds. The lines of his songs might jump a fifth, slide back down, and hover around a series of pitches before leaping up again. Difficult to perform but easy on the ear. Lyrical.
He’s also a working composer, far from the dreaded ivory tower. On a gleaming black Steinway in his light-filled living room, Ratcliff's written music that’s been sung by thousands of singers of all ages and abilities. His children’s opera "Mice and Beans" is being staged April 26-27 in San Diego. New York City Opera will read Ratcliff’s “Eleni” in May, and in July, the Rochester Oratorio Society will take a section of the “Ode to Common Things” to Beijing and Shanghai.
Cary got more good news this week. He writes,
“I wanted to share with you the news that Eleni has been selected for the New York City Opera 'VOX' showcase of new operas this May 10/11. Half an hour of Eleni will be performed un-staged by their singers and 60 (?) piece orchestra. A giant thanks again to all who have helped to move this work toward some hoped-for production. Now I gotta finish up that full-orchestra orchestration...”
And he’s having a good year.
In this picture Cary Ratcliff is preparing the Hochstein Youth Singers for Saturday’s premiere of a set of songs called 'Goops and Hula Hoops.'
He’s currently writing an opera for children's chorus and chamber orchestra that will be performed in San Diego in the spring.
Also this spring Concentus Women's Choir will present 'Song of Woman,' to poetry by Rochester poet Francesca Guli.