Daily Office:


Matins: When Kathleen heard what I wrote for Compline last night, she paid me the highest compliment by asking to listen to Vaughan Williams’s Serenade to Music.

Tierce: A little story on the Times’s Web site about losses at Motorola made me wonder what could have gone wrong at the company that gave us the RAZR phone. A little googling turned up this entry at Engadget, in which a former employee, who worked for the late Chief Marketing Officer, Geoffrey Frost (did they really work him to death?), gives an inside view.

Compline: Good news! Everything fits. My glen plaid suit and my fancy new shirt, which was only half as costly as the suit. I was a bit nervous about the shirt; maybe I wouldn’t be able to close the top button. I decided not to wait until tomorrow to find out. I shall sleep better as a result.


§ Matins. This work, a “festival” composition for sixteen virtuoso soloists (not a chorus), is the highest expression that the English language has to offer to the beauty of music. You will have to find the music on your own, but the Shakespearean text (from The Merchant of Venice) that it sets is readily available. Three of the most beautiful lines in our language:

Here will we sit and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears. Soft stillness and the night
Become the touches of sweet harmony.

§ Tierce. And it’s the same old story. The former employee, Numair Faraz, aims one right between the eyes of Greg Brown, the current Motorola chief who believes that splitting the company in two will fix everything.

But apparently different from the rest of the incompetent senior executives at Motorola — except instead of merely being inept, you’re actually actively killing the company. Your lack of understanding of the consumer side of Motorola doesn’t give you a valid reason for selling the handset business; moreover, publicly disclosing your explorations of such a move, in an attempt to keep Carl Icahn off your back, shows how much you value the safety of your incompetence.

§ Compline. What goes up must come down. Two rather euphoric days more or less had to be followed by a dud. Staying up late last night, thinking how amusing it would be to send some comic recordings to a friend (thus potentially choking his inbox) and drinking a few extra glasses of wine didn’t help. I awoke to a free-floating remorse that had no real object, but that didn’t matter, because I could hardly get out of bed. Once I did get out of bed, the outlook improved, but I felt post-Edenic all day. Especially so at the Orpheus concert at the museum. I don’t know how long this has been going on, but I went last year: Orpheus teams up with the Handel & Haydn Society singers (or at any rate they did this year) to perform two Bach cantatas, in a concert that lasts about an hour. The curious thing is that the program is repeated two hours later. I went early this year, to the 6:30 show.

The vocal soloists, whom I’ll get round to naming in due course of time, were very good, and my appreciation for them rose the more they sang. The tenor seemed cut out to be a memorable Evangelist (in the Passions); he sang with the bright, burning urgency that makes this part, which is given no arias, the star of the show when its very well done. All right; I got up and looked at the program: Aaron Sheehan. (Now there’s a name.)

The two cantatas were BWV* 67 and 140. BWV 140, of course, is the famous “Sleepers, Awake” cantata; with its beautiful opening chorale, two lovely duets for soprano and baritone, and tenor chorale (the part that we call “Sleepers, Awake,” even though those aren’t the words), it is always a treat to hear. BWV 67, Halt im Gedächtnis, is strange for having no real arias. I know/don’t know it as the cantata on the other side of a Musical Heritage Society LP that I had at prep school. The side that I listened to featured BWV 78, Jesu, der du meine Seele, among whose numbers sparkles the imperishably appealing duet, “Wir eilen mit schweichen doch emsigen Schritten.”

Kathleen is finishing up the night’s preparations for the morrow. She has decided to wear a pair of shoes that she has never worn before. Ouch! They’ll look great, but I still think that she would do better to wear the Ferragamos that she bought twenty-five years ago for a friend’s wedding. If she has worn them ten times since, I’d be amazed, but she has worn them. They’re matte black, with a very faint pattern of – rhinestones! It couldn’t be more discreet — tiny, almost invisible. “But if you think I’m wearing rhinestones at ten o’clock in the morning, you’re cracked.” Rules are rules.

I almost can’t wait to get dressed. Better get to bed, first.

* “BWV” stands for “Bachs Werke Verzeichnis,” or “Index of Bach’s Works.”

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