Siege Diaries 3/22/2022

It really did feel almost normal, these last few days. I took Thursday and Friday off, out ahead of a weekend in Ottawa for boardgaming. We drove there on Friday, stopping at Teddy’s for an early dinner before arriving at our hosts’ place. Saturday was all games, but of course, I also went in to Byward Market for a beaver tail and visits to two of my favourite shops, and I travelled about half an hour in the opposite direction to pick up a concrete Japanese lantern for the front lawn. The former occupant of that space, made of resin, disintegrated in an snowbank. This one weighs a considerable amount and looks to be much more durable.

After I returned, there was a new version of Terraforming Mars, and then some Chinese food with a whole lot of people I had not seen in some time. It was really all rather wonderful.

Sunday, we drove back early so I could get down to St. Catharines for a Niagara Symphony concert featuring the Shostakovich Cello Concerto no. 1, performed by Joseph Johnson, principal cello for the TSO. It was a gorgeous performance, particularly the slow movement, which to me seemed to inhabit the same sound world as both the Passacaglia moment of the Violin Concerto no. 1 and the Largo of the 5th symphony. Given that these rank at the very top of my list of movements from Shostakovich works, this realization was not insignificant. I have always favoured the darker, sparser cello concerto no. 2, but this slow movement, I am realizing, is special, as is the cadenza. The other main work on the program was Elgar’s Enigma Variations. The conductor noted that he’d done Elgar and Shostakovich together before, which made me smile, as that was my first Shostakovich full symphony ever. It had been a number of years since I’d heard the complete Variations, and there was a sudden “oh, duh” moment when I realized that the track “Klubbed to Death” from the Matrix soundtrack–which I love–samples the work.

Yesterday, another concert, which was supposed to be more Shostakovich, but the program swapped out his Piano Concerto no. 1 in favour of Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 21. I thought briefly about getting a refund on the ticket, but I’m glad I didn’t. The Galilee Chamber Orchestra is a classical-sized orchestra based out of Nazareth composed of both Palestinian and Jewish Israelis–and boy, were they wonderful. They had apparently just played Carnegie Hall. Besides the Mozart concerto–which is probably his most famous concerto, with sections appearing in Amadeus and the middle movement known as the “Elvira Madigan” from some movie no one really remembers now that used it–there was also Beethoven’s First Symphony. I played the work in high school in what I believe was my final performance with an orchestra. It is just an amazingly dramatic and energetic piece, particularly in the finale–and the giant smiles on the faces of the musicians showed just how much they were enjoying it, too.

Meanwhile, my newest musical find is the Lemon Bucket Orkestra, along with sister group Balaklava Blues.

It occurs to me I had not yet uploaded the completed embroidery piece with the painted background. I think the background turned out rather well.

The next piece is a Shostakovich piece without being a portrait–it’s a wonderful Modernist poster for his ballet, The Golden Age. The whole thing uses just five colours of thread.

Some more long-range concert dreaming is in flight. The Met is doing Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk in September, and the Detroit Symphony has the Shostakovich Violin Concerto no. 2–the only of his six concerti I have not yet heard live–in early December. Toronto is also releasing their complete schedule tomorrow. They already have Shostakovich’s Symphony no. 1 on the schedule, along with the Mahler 5 I had hoped to see in April 2020. Fingers are crossed for more Shostakovich, of course, but I’m also really hoping for Pictures at an Exhibition, the work I was supposed to see on March 15, 2020.

Work is almost complete on the CWH 50th anniversary book. The deadline–and it’s a hard one–is Friday. We’re going to make it, and the book is looking really nice.

I also have to get the April 1 heraldic letter posted next week, which really means I need to get it done earlier, since I have a concert on the 30th and a Toastmasters open house on the 31st. I did pull back from the 48 hour scribal competition, although I’m still going to do the backlog scroll I had planned to do–just without the intense deadline.

It’s odd right now. I’m both extremely busy (at work and elsewhere) but a little restless. I’ve started wondering in recent months whether I might not have some variety of ADHD. It certainly would explain some long-term tendencies, particularly the ability for short bursts of intense concentration but less ability to deal with longer-term projects. But my objects of hyperfocus persist for years, and never completely go away–although very often they fade a bit as I get to the point where I am no longer learning new things much. I love the learning process, and I love teaching things, but I sometimes struggle with the “paperwork”, as it were. I’m not quite sure, and I’m not really sure finding some way to get assessed for this (or other neurodiversity) would really help me much other than putting on a label on my variety of weird.