Concerto Della Donna & The Insane Composer Who Would Write In Norwegian

One day, a fantabulous women’s choir, known as Concerto Della Donna in Montréal, Québec, had the misadventure of admitting a new member in their group.

Top to bottom, left to right: Sarah Dowd, Sarah Albu, Dina Cindrič, Rebecca Dowd, Amena Ahmad, Naomi Shin, Andrea Bakker, Caitlin Gordon, Maia Häberle, Lindsey German, Katherine Black, Barrett Porter, Iwan Edwards, Kayla Grunfeld, Erika Wood, Marie-Claire Saindon, Sara Rousseau, Amelia McMahon - photo ©Richard Lam

This new member played it cool at first. She kept her head down and humbled herself in the most praiseworthy learning attitude.

"You cannot see me! I am self-effacing and humble! Meep!"

It didn’t last long. The newbie turned out to be an Insane Composer™, and no matter how much she folded up her sadistic impulses inside her weak human cage, it finally became known to all that she was, in fact a published Composer™.

Click me to buy the score!

(However, they yet had to discover just how Insane™ she really was.)

"I write music! Yeah baby! Praise me!"

Right.

Moving on.

Now, this Insane Composer™ needed a lesson in Humility®: it was all too apparent that her one single published piece made her too comfy. (Well, not financially, but that’s beside the point.) And the choir’s director saw that. (Or maybe he didn’t, and he’s then an ©Insane Musical Director, which is also very probable). Whatever may be the true reason, the ©Director, after learning of the true identity of the Insane Composer™, commissioned her to write a piece, stating thus:

“Insane Composer™!

Thou shalt prove thy worth to your musical sisterhood, Concerto Della Donna!

Thou shalt write a piece, a grand piece, and it must last 15 – no, 20 – no 25 – heck, just make it 30 – minutes …”

(Here the Composer™ gulps, as her published piece is only 2m45s long …)

” … and it shall be for this wonderful sisterhood of yours, Concerto Della Donna, to perform this grand piece, and you must also write it for trumpet – no, violin – and maybe add a cello in there – and dancers! And it shall be a grand gala!”

And this is when the Composer™ reveals her true Insanity™ by saying:

“Lo, I shall write it! And it shall be grand! And it shall be for trumpet – no, violin and cello and dancers and my wonderful musical sisterhood, Concerto Della Donna – and the story shall be of a Norwegian fairy tale, and the lyrics shall be in Norwegian, because none of us understands it and none of us know how to pronounce any Norwegian word!”

Humility® kicks in the moment after she sealed the deal, when she realises just how much work this proposition entails.

And so, ever since August 2012 (almost a year after the deal was sealed), Composer™ has been writing her lyrics, then sending them off to a translator to get them translated into Norwegian, then analysing the text when it was sent back to her in October, learning how to pronounce every single word (try saying “Nei, det er jeg ei”. Know how it sounds like, really? … “Naï, dé’ar (ï)yaï’aï”. And even then I’m not sure I have it right.), and once she feels ready, launching herself into writing for 17 voices and trumpet – no, violin and cello and dancers.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is how Concerto Della Donna taught Humility® to the Insane Composer™ Who Would Write In Norwegian.

Truly, though, this is a fun ride. And the fairy tale from which I’m delving is “East of The Sun and West of The Moon“, which I suggest you read if you’ve got 10 minutes free. If not, know that there’s a polar bear and a brave girl and a candle that makes something go funny and then the girl loses her prince who’s kidnapped by his evil stepmother that forces him to marry her ugly daughter and the girl rides the four winds to reach the palace East of The Sun and West of The Moon.

Drawn by the fantastic Rosie Lauren Smith - click to see more of her art

Yeah, it’s better if you just read it.

But the important part is with the Winds. Imagine this wonderful choir (listen to a clip here), with a professional violinist (Caroline Chéhadé) and cellist (Michael Nicolas) and four dancers choreographed by Katie Ward all depicting a scene where the girl must ride the four Winds in turn – the Young East, the Crotchety West, the Zen South, and the Violent North – to reach the palace East of the Sun and West of the Moon. That is what I’ve been working on, and though it will be far from perfect as far as writing goes, it will be an awesome performance if I pull through (voices are written – now for the violin & cello parts …). Another composer (ahem … Insane Composer™), James Galaty, is also writing for us now in Swedish, and the whole concert will be focused on Nordic music.

Join us on this crazy adventure, Tuesday, June 5th, 8pm, Pollack Hall (550 Sherbrooke West, Montréal) – most probably, the tickets will be around 20$, 10$ for students. After all I’ve said – how could you refuse? :D

(… again … thank you for reading my random ramblings!)

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