St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

We Meet a Composer

Saturday, a cold windy wet day at the fair, Margo and I were finishing the swing shift at old red school house, the flow of people had just about quit and  it was time to go home—we had come at 8:30 am to make sure the morning shift were here and hung around for the day, alternately freezing and thawing.
Just as we were cleaning up, a very pretty young woman came in the door, sheaf of papers and a folder in her hands, “I need a piano.  They told me the only one at the fair is here in the school house.   I’m composing a song, and need to write down some music.”  
“Ours may be out of tune, but you’re welcome to use it,” I replied. 
“Doesn’t matter,” and she sat at the bench of the old upright piano, set up her hand written musical score and began playing a few notes, then writing the notes on a partially finished sheet of musical staff paper.
She wrote a few minutes, then played 20 seconds, and started writing.  Her playing was skilled—both hands playing a classical sounding segment.  We knew she was a serious musician.   We spent the next hour watching and listening. 
Meantime, Madd Hoss Jackson and his Country Western Band were blaring away in the background outside the door in the big tent.  Just outside the tractor pull went on with deafening roars as the tractors came to our end of the track.  During the lulls, the music  next door from the square dancers came through—but the composer heard none of it—just the music inside her head.
At 10 pm, she turned, noticed us sitting there, and asked “do you need to close?”
  “Are you done?”
  “No, but I can leave.”
  “We will close the door and lock it, and you can stay as late as you like—just lock up before you leave.”
“Would you like to hear the whole composition?”
And we heard wonderful music coming from the old piano.   After she finished, I asked her if it was alright that I had recorded some of her session with my camera on video mode—and offered to give the recording to her.  It was OK.   We asked, and she was Amy Johnson, from Amery, a High School student there who had been composing music for a year. 

 I passed the recording to her, and got permission to put a small excerpt of composing on my blog.