I’m about to become even more tiresome than usual in my promotion of the new music performance group “Composers, Inc.” Founded in 1984, Composers, Inc. is dedicated to the creation and performance of new American music. There are no Euro-composers, alive or dead, on its programs; goodness knows, the Euros have enough venues already. Neither will you find metabolically challenged (i.e., deceased) American composers on the programs of Composers, Inc. (although the organization will, on rare occasion, mark the passing of an American composer with a performance). No, the mission of Composers, Inc. is to perform (and commission) works by living Americans, particularly emerging composers.
My interest in the group is both personal and professional. For 29 years I have been one of the “composers” who directs the group (I was asked to join when the organization was just a year old), and on May 1 of this year I was elected president of its Board of Directors.
My election means that you, my friends, will have to endure my ongoing efforts to enlist Board members, raise moolah/dinero/buckaroonies, build audience, etc. etc.
The Board and money can wait; the remainder of this post is about the first concert of what will be our 31st season, to be held on Tuesday, October 7 at the magnificent First Congregational Church in Berkeley, California, 94704. (PLEASE: mark your calendars accordingly. Drive on over. Fly on in.) The concert will feature works by Cindy Cox, Don Freund, Martin Rokeach, Andrew Sigler and yours truly.
My contribution to the concert is a piece entitled “180 Shift”, which was composed for the brilliant “Trio 180”: Ann Miller, violin; Nina Flyer, ‘cello; Sonia Leong, piano. I will talk more about the piece in future posts; suffice it for now that it was written in memory of a very special person. It is no small coincidence, then, that as of this season, Composers, Inc. will name the first concert of our annual series in her memory: “The Diane Clymer-Greenberg Memorial Concert.” Readers of this post know that I rarely include in it private information, and that I avoid the darker end of the emotion spectrum: goodness knows, we all get enough of that in our everyday lives. Nevertheless, I would share with you the “President’s Message” that I wrote this morning that will appear in the program of that upcoming concert.
It was the winter of 2000. Diane Elizabeth Clymer, soon to be my wife, had just moved in with me. A meeting of the Artistic Board of Composers, Inc. was convened at my house. As we finished our business, Diane emerged from the kitchen with a huge, flaming Baked Alaska; the thing was the size of a basketball. We, the “composers” of Composers, Inc., were used to snacking after a meeting but this was another order of magnitude entirely. I remember Allen Shearer asking incredulously, “Did you make that for us?!?”
Yes she did. That was Diane. A superb, Conservatory-trained flutist, she was equally at home in an orchestra pit, a teaching studio, in front of her students and choristers at the Bentley Lower School in Berkeley (where she was head of music), and – yes – in the kitchen. Diane was one of those special people whose essential mission in life was to make people happy. In this she succeeded entirely.
We married, had children (Lillian and Daniel), and then, tragically, not quite 11 months after giving birth to Daniel, Diane died of cancer in October of 2009. She was 35 years old.
As we approach the fifth anniversary of her death, Composers, Inc. has chosen to honor Diane by naming the opening concert of our annual series in her memory: “The Diane Elizabeth Clymer-Greenberg Memorial Concert”. Speaking for my family, our friends, and myself, we could not be more honored or touched. Diane – for whom music, family, and friends (and okay, food) were so centrally important – would be terrifically pleased.