Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The New and the Old

It's January 21st. A big day. A new day. We have a new president and a new kind of American pride. It is an exciting time to be alive. I wrote a new choral piece yesterday called "Joyful Noise" and it just seemed fitting to finish it on a day when I was so filled with joy. I believe my colleague Jeremy Faust and the International Orange Chorale in San Francisco will premiere it, as they did with my piece De Profundis, but I will give you more details and confirmation about that in a few weeks. For now, let's bask in the way it feels to be so uniformly happy as a nation, and let's heed Obama's call to be a country of people who WORK and provide SERVICE. I am inspired.

All right, enough Obama-glowing. I have something else to be excited about. I FOUND ADAM WAGNER!!

If you've been following this blog for a while you'll remember the entry I wrote about looking for my junior high crush, Adam Wagner, who was the subject of my song "My Lifelong Love." He was a year ahead of me in school, and when I was in the fifth grade and he was in the sixth, I decided to play the clarinet in the hopes that one day I might be able to sit next to him in band. There's some truth in that song's lyric (which Lauren Kennedy recorded so BRILLIANTLY on her record HERE AND NOW), and there's some of it that I just made up, but that's the beauty of songwriting.

I really want to thank my friend Beth, who took it upon herself to find the mysterious and commonly-named Adam Wagner on the internet. I knew she was hunting him down, and one day I got a message on Facebook that said "I found Adam. He is my friend on Facebook. Look at my friends list and you will find him." So I did. And, sure enough, it was he.

Some of us abuse Facebook and post way too much information for all the world to see. Jason calls people like us "chronic over-sharers." (You know who you are.) And then there are other quiet, lurking types who post a picture and maybe an email address and little else. They sit in the background and quietly, sneakily collect friends. They do not write on people's walls. They do not post items. They do not comment. Clearly, they are not obsessed. Anyway, I am in the oversharing, obsessed category. Adam is in the lurking category. I could tell from his profile what state he lived in and that he's been at the same job for nearly 15 years. And that's about it. So, with little to go on, I wrote him.

(I am publishing these excerpts from our exchange with his permission.)

Hi, Adam --

I want to share something with you. A few years ago, as an assignment for a Valentine's Day concert, I was asked to write a song about my first love. I gave the assignment a twist and wrote about my first crush -- back in junior high -- and you must know that that was you. Back in the day. So, anyway, you were the inspiration for a song. I have to say, the truth is that I wrote a song about a girl in the 5th grade who had a crush on a boy named Adam in the 6th grade, and then I made up the rest of it. So it's not REALLY about you or about me and a lot of it is fiction. But, well, you'll see.

I hope you find this whole thing amusing. I just wanted you to know. Enjoy. Please write back if you have a minute. I sure would love to hear from you. And -- ha ha -- don't worry. I'm happily married with a beautiful 3-year old daughter.

For two days I worried that he thought I was stalking him, and then THIS lovely email showed up in my inbox.

Hi Georgia!

I love the song! You and Lauren were excellent! I can't really remember the last time I thought about the 6th grade (Wow that was 25 years ago!), but I was laughing and remembering it fondly while listening to your song. I've played it for almost everyone in my office and they all liked it. I also sent it to my parents and my sister so they could enjoy it. I remember almost everything in the song, except the clarinet lessons. Did I actually give you lessons? I was also oblivious to the fact that you had a crush on me.

OBLIVIOUS? Whew. That's a relief.

Anyway, this story has a happy ending. We're now in touch. We have reconnected about our families and what we've been doing for the last two decades. And, for the record, no, Adam, you never gave me clarinet lessons. They don't call me a lyricist for nuthin'.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Good Eats

In keeping with the spirit of revealing too much (and why else would we maintain blogs?), I will let you know that I love to cook. I am a pretty decent cook, actually, though I am much better at following recipes than opening the pantry door and saying, "Wonder what I can make with Corn Flakes, Spanish olives, tomato paste and balsamic vinegar?" (Hey -- if you can do that and the result isn't disgusting, you get my full respect.) Apparently I am good at following directions, and I've now been doing it long enough that I'm getting pretty good at improvising as I go, too. (You could say the same thing about the way I play the piano, really.)

On New Year's Day I cooked up a feast. We had a party, and I had invited so many people that I didn't know who was coming. So I just cooked and cooked and cooked. For three days. And the results turned out pretty well. I find a lot of recipes in "Cooking Light" magazine. I like it because it's healthy food that's well-prepared. Not "diet" food. Real food, just lighter. (I made a beef stroganoff for dinner recently that you would never have known was low-fat. Okay, I realize I sound like Brie Van De Kamp Hodge right now. What can I say? I grew up in the South. That's my apology.)

So, take a look. Here's the menu:
Pumpkin chocolate chip bread
Ginger spice cake with an orange glaze
Mediterranean strata (eggs, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, Asiago and parmesan cheese, French bread)
Cranberry and wild rice salad
Winter vegetable stew (Swiss chard, butternut squash, carrots, leeks, turnips, onions) and couscous
Caramel French toast
Oat bran muffins with raisins, dates and dried cranberries
homemade fudge and almond toffee
Williams-Sonoma peppermint bark (not homemade, sorry Becky)

The irony, of course, is that I don't cook much during the year. Jason laughs at me because I read these cookbooks and these cooking magazines and then I send him out to pick up the takeout we ordered for dinner. When days are harried and rushed, as they so often are, cooking is the first thing to go. I am usually still writing, coaching, or teaching at 5 pm when most housewives are making dinner for their families. And so, we pay $19 for salmon instead of picking it up at the store and throwing it on the grill. Yet another reason why I love the holidays. More time. More family. More cooking.

I think I'm writing about this tonight because my friend Garth just sent me a recipe chain letter. It's the kind of thing, you know, where you forward it to 20 of your friends and if they ALL PARTICIPATE you get lots and lots of recipes back. And even though I hate chain letters, I love the idea of getting new recipes. Last time I participated in this kind of thing, years ago, I forwarded the chain letter to all my friends in the South (because how many of you New Yorkers really cook? I mean, really?), and the recipes I got back were things like cheese logs and cream of mushroom pie. (I can guarantee you no one in this house will eat a cream of mushroom pie.)

So I'm going out on a limb here. I know this isn't a cooking blog, and I really don't want it to be. But if you want to play along, I'll post a recipe here every now and then, and if you've got something you like, you can post it in the comments. So we'll have our own little recipe chain letter and no one has to annoy their friends. I'll go first.

When my grandmother died, my dad and I scanned a lot of her recipes into the computer so we'd always have them. I can't say I've made too many of her dishes. (OMG the butter! The cream! The handwriting!) But there's something warm and comforting about seeing a handwritten recipe from sixty years ago that has so many stains on it that you know it must have been yummy.

This recipe -- for "Peanut Butt Drops" -- makes me laugh. Flossie was my grandmother's aunt. Which would make her my great, great aunt. Who knew they had Corn Flakes back then?

Nuts could be added, indeed.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

DE PROFUNDIS at Grace Cathedral

Dear International Orange Chorale Friends and Supporters,

Please join us on Wednesday, January 7th at 7:30pm as we sing at San Francisco’s landmark Grace Cathedral with the Yale Glee Club. Under the direction of Jeffrey Douma, Yale’s 80-member ensemble will sing a wonderful concert including music recently commissioned by the Glee Club by Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award winning composer Ned Rorem. We have been invited to sing a set of our own and to combine forces for a few pieces including our own Georgia Stitt’s De Profundis (an IOCSF commission from 2004), Randall Thompson’s well-loved Alleluia, and Gerald Finzi’s God Is Gone Up. In the setting of Grace Cathedral, this will be a spectacular occasion.

About the Yale Glee Club: For nearly a century and a half, the Yale Glee Club has represented the best in collegiate singing-from its earliest days as a group of thirteen men from the class of 1863 to its current incarnation as an eighty-voice chorus of men and women.

It’s a privilege for us to welcome the Yale Glee Club to San Francisco!

For tickets, please click here:

$10 General Admission
$8 Students and Seniors


Visit us on the web for maps and more information.
See you on January 7th!

To a Happy New Year,
Jeremy Faust