The combined scourge of Covid and Florida high season is over. This means that (finally) some people are leaving southwest Florida as the warmer/rainier months appear. Much has been happening at the Feiszli household.

I continue to progress towards the Total Wine Professional certification. I took the Bordeaux examination on Monday and passed – making me the only person in the Fort Myers store to have passed two of the exams other than our wine manager. I have store managers who have expressed dismay over the volume of knowledge required to get a passing score. Truth be told, I was upset that I missed 4 questions, giving me an 89%. I wanted to achieve at least a 90%. My mentor, the wine manager told me to shut up and take the win. Okay, fine ….

On to Italy.  Seven more exams to pass and I will have earned the diploma.

This audio recording continues to receive attention. If you are interested in obtaining a copy, ensemble cantissimo sells them as well as Carus-Verlag, who sponsored the CD and has audio excerpts on their website. I urge you to contact ensemble cantissimo directly here since buying the CD from them will support their efforts. If your last name is Phelps, Kandel, MacDonald, or Reynolds; please do not buy one. I am sending you one because without you, none of this would have happened.

Markus and I will make these motets available to the public free of charge in PDF format. I will post the PDF files on this website and Markus will post them on the ensemble cantissimo website.

In somewhat more somber news, Michelle and I have been devoting our time and resources in support of Michelle’s younger sister, who has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Michelle has already been back to South Dakota three times to visit and support. I went with her for five days over Easter weekend. She is undergoing chemotherapy and doing well. We are so impressed and encouraged by her resilience and determination to continuing to live her life. In addition, my oldest brother’s wife has been diagnosed with breast cancer, and they are dealing with that. Coincidentally, both of these persons have spent their lives in the medical field.

Michelle and I have spent many minutes discussing our own health and future. We are grateful for what we have but have decided to begin living for the now rather than the future.

With the CD release, I did a rather crazy adolescent, second-childhood thing. I decided (since both my kids and my wife had already gotten multiple tattoos) to get a tattoo to commemorate the last 40 years of my musical research. The artist was impressed that I was willing to go so crazy with my first tattoo. My response was: There are probably 100 people on the planet that would recognize this. Go big or go home.  So, here we are.

Choralis Constantinus 1508

This came in the mail today. To steal David Burns’ words, I am pleased that Markus Utz and his ensemble cantissimo have created this outstanding CD to accompany my liner notes. (lol)

In many ways, this CD is a culmination of my life’s work. I have always been a facilitator – one who creates avenues for others to express themselves. All of the music on this CD was transcribed by me from the original mensural notation into modern notation so that good musicians could re-create it.  Markus and his ensemble have performed this music as I always heard it in my head. So proud and thankful for all the singers that tackled this challenging music and performed it. They refined and enhanced the editions that appear here.

I am indebted to John MacDonald from the University of Akron and Robert D. Reynolds from Arizona State University, who encouraged me in my pursuit of non-traditional choral music. I also need to acknowledge Carl H. Kandel at Mount Union, who gave me the opportunity to transcribe music. Not only this early music thing, but also my brass compositions and arrangements are because of his encouragement. Thanks to these mentors I became a student of Gregorian chant, early Renaissance music notation, and proportional musical rhythms – all of which were huge assistance in my work in choral music. I recall a colleague being impressed by a guest conductor talking to a choir about John Rutter’s evocation of chant in his Requiem, and thought to myself, “And where did you get your degree…?” Sorry, but that’s my music history snobbishness coming out.

In this CD is a selection of music for important celebrations of the church year. The entire Christmas music is presented. Motets dedicated to Mary have a place. The music sung for Easter and following weeks is represented. The last two motets are music dedicated to the patron saint of Konstanz, St. Conrad.

All of this music is based on the Gregorian chant for that Mass Proper item. This was Isaac’s genius in creating the Choralis Constantinus. While he was equally able to create new melodies (see Innsbruck, Ich muss dich lassen); he was able to take pre-existing melodies and create totally new artforms.

The influence Isaac had on later composers is undeniable. Protestant hymns and forms such as the church cantata; and later Renaissance madrigals can all be traced to his groundbreaking music.

If you wish scores for this music, it will soon be available on both ensemble cantissimos’s and my website. Markus and I have decided to make it available to those who wish to perform it.

News from Southwest Florida

News from southwest Florida

I thought it might be time to check in since it’s already mid-February. Not sure how those people who blog and post daily updates to social media get anything done. Maybe they’re just more hard-working than I am.

Speaking of that, my immediate supervisor at Total Wine, the wine manager – whose knowledge is that of a sommelier and who has been my mentor in wine – put out a challenge to everyone at our store who is enrolled in the Total Wine Professional program. That person who passed the first exam in the TWP program would receive a $150 bottle of wine from Washington, Oregon, or California (the focus of the first exam).

No one in the store except for said wine manager had managed to pass that first test. Not the wine supervisor, not any other managers, nor any other team members.

Challenge accepted. On Sunday I took the exam and passed; making me the only person in the store who has achieved that milestone other than my mentor.  My reward? (other than the aforementioned $150 bottle – the Moone-Tsai Hillside Blend crafted by Philippe Melka). I had to immediately take the next exam. Bordeaux. Talk about coming down to earth in a hurry! I got a 47% (Expected 30%!) Back to work…. 

On a continuing front, I completed the liner notes for a CD recording of my editions of Heinrich Isaac motets from the Choralis Constantinus. Carus-Verlag, a renowned music publisher in Stuttgart decided to support a CD of Isaac music performed by Markus Utz and his ensemble cantissimo – all of which was transcribed and edited by yours truly. And Carus-Verlag asked (and paid) me to write the liner notes for the CD!

The CD will be issued in April and the music is sublime.  I have the recordings but cannot share them (of course) since Carus hopes to make money from selling them. But Markus and his ensemble have re-created the music as I always heard it in my head but never had the resources to make it happen. I am blessed by those around me – especially Michelle – who have helped and encouraged me to continue working in this field.

The scores for this music will soon become available on both this website and the ensemble cantissimo website as free public domain choral music. If Carus-Verlag decides to publish some of it, we will refrain from placing those free PDF files online. Stay tuned.

Michelle is still coping with becoming middle management. She is great at working with people. I would not have passed that TWP exam without her her guidance. But even superwoman has her limits. She is working through the demands on her time, and I have no doubts that she will find solutions to having more one her plate than she should have. I try to be supportive and reduce stress as much as possible.

One of those things was to visit the Mini Cooper dealer here to get her car serviced and, while doing so, decided to trade in her current CooperS for a hardtop CooperS. So now, Michelle is driving a fairly new Cooper that she loves rather than one that is cool, but not what she wants.

This picture is not the actual car, but is close to it.

I told her that this is the seventh car she’s had since we were married. I’ve had two….  Oh, well.

It is paramount that she has something that is safe and secure to make her commute on a dangerous road to and from work every day. Bottom line is that Michelle has finally found a place in her life where she is respected professionally and honored for what she does. That’s a good thing.

Otherwise, not much to report. I have too many tomatoes than I can eat. My herb garden is amazing. I just bought mint today so it can take over my garden but give me mojitos. Today was beautiful, Woke up to 60 degrees F and mowed the lawn in 78 degree comfort. Love living here.

I hope you are all as happy as I am.