31 January 2009

unceasing

The family lore puts Christian, at age four, lying under the luscious 1920's nine foot Steinway in Kingston, Ontario while his mother practiced the Bach Partita in C minor; at age seven he decided to become a composer.  As far as I know, he never wavered from that decision, and almost every moment of his life has been devoted to this calling.

Last night at the Madsen recital hall, I saw Christian at what his mother called his apogee.  Two premieres were made, an organ piece performed by Neil Thornock and a piano sonata played by Scott Holden.  And then a set of prepared viola improvisations performed by Christian.

The organ piece was funky and mysterious.  I love organ, Christian's writing for organ, and Neil's playing.  The piano piece was gorgeous, and Scott is so complete as an artist, so expressive, but balanced by a deep intellectualism, and so virtuosic and yet soulful.  

Christian's viola set was mesmerizing.  Grandpa Woody called it a magic show, and he was right.  The exploration of sound was expansive and compelling, suspenseful even.  I loved every minute.

And how does this happen?  Just to dispel the myth of the crazy, romantic, composer, it happens when a person works unceasingly for most of his life.  There were years when Christian arose at four a.m. every day to practice and compose, works an eight-hour day job to support the family and then stayed up late in the night to continue working.  He loves his work and spends every spare minute on it, but even still he manages to be there most nights to eat dinner with us and put the kids to bed.  And then work until two in the morning again.  I've watched him sit at a desk for eighteen hours a day for months finishing a symphony.  

In his student days, he was legendary for keeping a bag of potatoes in his locker that he could nuke and eat while walking across campus so as not to spend any money or time on anything that would take away from his focus. 

Christian's unceasing devotion, his unflagging faith in his calling, and his passion for his work, all astound me.  He is an amazing man and an amazing composer, and you all should get out to hear his music someday soon.

3 comments:

Marni C. said...

Oh how I wish I could have been there! I remember very well Christian's unceasing devotion to ANY pursuit: botany (at one time he had dozens and dozens of plants in his room), pushups (he worked and worked each night until he could do hundreds of all different varieties), scripture study . . . but I also remember being in awe of his clear knowledge of his identity as a musician. xo to Christian!! And how lucky he is to have found a companion who is also an artist who works tirelessly to create beauty and comfort.

eliza.e.campbell said...

BALLS! Why did I have to miss that gig?

Bingy said...

Jawohl! I told all of my friends in Cologne about what a wonderful man he was, especially in Bonn when we were wandering around Beethoven's house.