-7°C (19.4°F) During the long, cold passage into spring – especially when winter suffers a relapse like it did the past few days – I like to listen to Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring
I imagine it begins at dawn, everything only just awake, only just green, only just born that instant. An aching, longing flute and violin arc high over the orchestra and just as quickly subside back into the steady upward current of the orchestra.
The music rises and falls, moving faster as the young tumble over each other, frolicking – then slowing as they rest in their mother’s warm curl. And again, and again, for every bird, mouse, fox, raccoon and squirrel in the wood.
The long awakening finally culminates in an old Shaker
‘Tis a gift to be simple, ’tis a gift to be free,
‘Tis a gift to come round where you want to be –
And when we come round to the place just right,
We will be in the garden of love and delight.
But after all that it returns to where it began, still aching, still longing, still unresolved. Until the end, when we get a final, quiet glimpse of joy – just in time for summer.
I’ve always liked this piece because of its lack of triumph, its almost complete satisfaction with incompleteness. And I’ve always liked Copland because he liked winds (I played the clarinet), and because his music feels roomy – spacious.
Like everything else in my life, Appalachian Spring is connected to everything else… to college friendship (thanks, N.S.)… to childhood camping in the Appalachians… to making music.
Which reminds me… I used to be quite a good clarinetist, and I recently limbered up my musical muscles. I would love to find a small group to play with again – a little chamber music, a little jazz, or if there is such a thing, a little bluegrass clarinet
. If you’re in the Twin Cities and need a clarinet player, drop me a line.
-13°C (8.6°F) A gentle snow brings with it the promise of warmer temperatures. The stony gray of the clouds has softened, too.