Over the winter months between making the video of Navidad for PMW in November and making the Fandango video in late January, life continued for us, like for most, in continued self-isolation. The biggest effect of the pandemic on the work of PMW (besides the obvious lack of live concerts) is that the planning horizon had to be pulled much closer – planning for a few months at a time at most – rather than the whole season or even two as in the ‘before-times’.
This meant that on the car trip from Seattle back to Santa Clarita on the 7th and 8th of November, Maxine and I had hours to talk about what could or should come next for PMW. By the time we crossed the last mountain pass it was snowing heavily and we realized that car trips to Seattle (loaded with harps and lutes) was not something that should be planned between mid-November and mid-March. We hit on the idea of Maxine and me making a duo concert in our home in Santa Clarita and Tekla and Henry making a duo concert in Seattle. We will all have the pleasure to play together again in early April for our Genius Unbound concert – but until then this seemed like the right path.
One thing that is hard to do for live concerts is to use both the Italian baroque harp and the Spanish cross-strung harp – but having both in one concert is the way to do the most exciting repertoire from both Italy and Spain. Taking full advantage of recording at home, we could use both harps as well as the baroque guitar and lute. The winter also offered us plenty of time at home to practice, so it was with a sense of adventure that we went about planning the repertoire for Fandango. One of the first decisions was to include the magnificent set of variations on the Fandango by Santiago de Murcia. It has been on my wish list for 20 years, but I never had the courage to program it before – it’s quite demanding! By naming the concert Fandango – I was committed. A similar long-term dream for Maxine had been to do the largescale Toccata by Stradella. It is an absolutely unique piece. It is Stradella’s only Toccata and he didn’t even specify whether it was for keyboard or harp. And yet, the opening gestures of downward arpeggios are so iconic for the baroque harp that it seemed to call out for that instrument to realize its full potential. It might also make a wonderful work for harpsichord, but to our knowledge this is the first recorded performance of the piece in our time, and I predict that, going forward, harpists will claim it as their own.
The other thing that gave us the confidence to plan on doing a concert in our house was the experience recording the lutesong concert with Reggie Mobley called Time Stands Still back in September. From that experience, we learned that our music studio has not only a great acoustic, but also offers a nice variety of views for the videographer. We brought the Audio Engineer (and expert baroque violinist!) Aaron Westman from the Bay Area and the talented videographer Gary Payne from San Diego, and created a concert video in two days. Not only was it a congenial and talented team – but we all became friends over this process – so we can go on with this way of making music videos whenever we need to.
We are all looking forward with great anticipation to the moment when we can play for a live audience again (will it be outdoors this summer, or indoors next fall?), but this interlude of needing to make music on video is something that will stay with us as an additional way to create our art and connect with our audience – even if they are physically somewhere else altogether.
We would be delighted if you will join us for the broadcast of this concert on March 20 at 7pm, and at 6:30 for an informal zoom chat just before it. In this time when we can’t be together in the concert hall, at least we can invite you (virtually) into our home for this experience!
Stephen Stubbs, March 2021