Tag Archives: Third Angle New Music Ensemble

Now I’ve got that job: a back-breaker before it begins

The Crooked Man, Project Gutenberg

Bent beneath the weight of sudden responsibilities and an uncooperative lower back, Mrs. Scatter staggers to the first meeting of her Important New Job. Drawing: “The Crooked Man,” from Project Gutenberg.


Did you hear I got a new job? If you missed the first two installments, read …

Part 1: The short-lived dream of running for president.
Part 2: The bizarre, twisted tale of how the job found me.

A brief recap:

  • Blissful summer.
  • No job and no plans for a job.
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks.
  • A mysterious Jane nominates me for president.
  • White House hopes dashed.
  • Two Large Smelly Liabilities.
  • Love Jane.
  • Love Third Angle.
  • Love Ron.
  • Earflap hats.
  • Flying rockets.
  • Killer water fights.
  • Trick-or-treat.
  • Urinating dog.
  • FaceBook.
  • Frozen Music – City Dance.
  • Date night.
  • Sunny beach.
  • Typing into phone.
  • Junior Rose Parade.
  • Auto parts store.
  • Pickles!

I made the big announcement on FaceBook:

Say hello to the new managing director of Third Angle New Music Ensemble! I’m excited to work with my old friend Ron Blessinger. It’s the one job that could have lured me back to the work world before I had planned.

And then I had a little exchange with one of my “friends.”

Mighty Toy Cannon:
“Hey congratulations. Welcome to the arts administrators’ club.”

Miss Laura: “Will you show me the secret handshake?”

“Once I’ve learned the handshake for the League of Tough-Guy Arts Observers! I’d also be happy to pass along the code book and the secret map to hidden treasures.”

Miss Laura: “I hope finding the secret treasures doesn’t involve dark passageways filled with giant spiders and booby-trapped blades that take heads off.”

OK, so I didn’t fully disclose on my resume that I had once worked as a clerk in an auto parts store.

I really don’t think that’s any excuse not to be up front about the booby-trapped blades.

Everything amazingly clicked into place. My grand scheme was to take the summer off, then come up with a whole new career. So I went on vacation, drove home on Labor Day and went to a meeting that night.

It was to be my first job duty. My first impression. My first official act of my Whole New Career.

But first … the day before my big debut I woke up in a nice cottage in Ashland, walked across the hall, stepped on the cold tile floor of the bathroom and suddenly went HOLY MOTHER OF GOD I’M SORRY I WAS BORN WITH LEGS!

My entire lower back seized up and wouldn’t let go. I could hardly walk.

I thought a nice warm shower would take care of it. No such luck. I took a couple of ibuprofen. Mildly better.
Continue reading Now I’ve got that job: a back-breaker before it begins

How did I get that job? Alvin and the Chipmunks (Part 2)

Frozen Music II: The City Dance of Lawrence & Anna Halprin. Photo: Alicia J. RoseSo sorry. Art Scatter has been experiencing technical difficulties. Mr. Scatter was in the far-flung parts of the state hanging with people who raise peacocks and donkeys. His absence meant he couldn’t run interference with the Large Smelly Boys, who at times can be chihuahuas for attention.

Then Mr. Scatter got back and wrote about mules (note a trend?) and other thinky things like the League of Tough-Guy Arts Observers. There’s just no way I’m going to get in the middle of that, especially when I have upper respiratory yuck and I’m busy hamstering to get out front of my new job.

Oh, did I tell you I got a new job? How did I get it, you wonder? Let’s see … the story so far, posted way last week:

  • Blissful summer.
  • No job and no plans for a job.
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks.
  • A mysterious Jane nominates me for president.
  • White House hopes dashed.
  • Two Large Smelly Liabilities.

At this point in the story, the mysterious Jane didn’t know this (and I didn’t know her), but I now considered her my new best friend.

In the meantime … on Aug. 13, Mr. Scatter posted something brainy about the National Endowment for the Arts and its new leader, Rocco Landesman. The post got a lot of thoughtful comments and then the mysterious Jane popped up again.

She said, “I think we should invite Chairman Landesman out to the provinces for a look-see. I’d be delighted to have him hear a Third Angle concert.”

I immediately put on my Sherlock Holmes hat, went to the website for Third Angle New Music Ensemble and checked out its list of board members. Sure enough, there was a Jane.

This is the point of the story where I should divulge Jane’s last name, but I think I’ve dropped enough clues that you can put on your own fancy earflaps and find out for yourself. You don’t even have to light your pipe, because I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s a link.

Sherlock Holmes statue in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo: Siddharth Krish/Wikimedia CommonsWhen I spied Third Angle in mysterious Jane’s comments, my ears pricked up. Or at least they would have if I hadn’t been wearing the fancy earflaps. I love Third Angle. And I love Ron Blessinger, the company’s artistic director, who happens to be an old friend. We used to live a few houses apart. Our kids used to swing around in trees together.

Ron once wandered down to our house to check on his two kids and they were lined up with my two in the side yard. As I aimed a plastic hose, the four of them were taking turns jumping on an air pad that would send a plastic rocket sailing down the end of our driveway where I had parked the van sideways and opened the door. Ron looked at us and his eyes followed another flying rocket down to the van. He asked if we were trying to hit it through the door. We all nodded and grinned as another kid jumped on the air pad with both feet.

Our kids went swimming together, played on the beach together, watched parades together, had killer water fights together. Ron and I have trailed behind our trick-or-treating kids on Halloween drinking bad red wine. When he and his family were out of town, I occasionally watched their dog. She once urinated in our basement. So Ron and I were like that.

In fact, we were so close we recently became FaceBook friends.

A few days after the now-not-so-mysterious Jane weighed in on the NEA post on Art Scatter, Ron posted a status update on FaceBook that he was “wrapping up a grant while on vacation … how stupid.”

I almost posted a comment saying that he needed me. And I meant it.

Continue reading How did I get that job? Alvin and the Chipmunks (Part 2)

Hail! A new quartet by Tomas Svoboda!

Third Angle New Music Ensemble gave the world its first listen to Portland composer Tomas Svoboda’s newest quartet, String Quartet no. 10, Opus 194. I’m not adept enough to enter it very deeply from that one encounter, but I liked its spirit and its invention. The program notes said that it is dedicated to violinist Lubomir Havlak of the Martinu Quartet, which recorded eight of Svoboda’s earlier quartets in Prague recently, and so “positive, energetic and playful with harmonic language of Bohemian flavor.” Which all seemed plausible at this first hearing.

Svoboda has Czech roots himself — his parents were Czech, though he was born in Paris in 1939 and spent the war years in Paris, returning to Prague in 1946 (according to his website), where he continued the musical studies begun in Boston. He was a sensation. He completed his first symphony at 16, and it was performed by the FOK Prague Symphonic Orchestra. He impressed the Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu enough for him to leave his unfinished work to the young Svoboda at his death in 1959. Svoboda’s family moved to the U.S. in 1964, and he went to U.S.C., before coming to Portland State University in 1969 to teach. Here, he’s conducted a wide-ranging musical exploration, from brilliant and edgy small chamber works to a marimba concerto.

I bring up this all up simply to make the point that the occasion of a new quartet by Svoboda is a big deal and that I wish more of us had been at the Old Church last night to hear it: the rhythms that Hamilton Cheifetz dug out of his cello, the seemingly simple melodies that violinist Ron Blessinger started to toss off, only to have them complicate and deepen considerably, the sonorous trade-offs between cello and Brian Quincey’s viola that mirrored the activity in the upper registers between Blessinger and violinist Peter Frajola. Every time things started to get, well, obsessive and aggressive, Svoboda gave us an escape, a little musical gesture maybe, a touch of whimsy, even the crankier third movement. And the last movement, which started almost inaudibly with a melody that did indeed sound like a folk song, rolled into a full-throated barn dance that Edgar Meyer and Mark O’Connor would have been proud of. Terrific stuff.
Continue reading Hail! A new quartet by Tomas Svoboda!