One of my favorite musical memories is going to Inon Barnatan’s Harlem loft to hear a salon performance of Gregory Spears‘ music on Valentine’s Day, 2008, in New York City. The first time I’d heard Spears’ music was in 2007, at a performance in Milwaukee of his piece “Brave Men Sail.” I’d been fairly bored or irritated with the music being presented that night up until that piece. I don’t remember any of it now, I just remember getting that, “Get ON with it!” feeling I embarrassingly get almost exclusively at artistic functions. And then Brave Men Sail. It was lovely and exhilarating and sort of bitter, the way adventures have to be (I told you, you remember, that adventure can’t be sifted from loss–you’re either running to or from something), and it sounded the way love did to me then. Running to or from something.

A friend arranged for us to be invited to the Valentine’s Day concert at the loft the following year, and, as I always feel when in groups of people I have never met who know each other, I felt strange and intrusive. But once the music began, the music was the only thing.

I just got his album Requiem. This is the sound of the city in winter. It’s the sound of the city conspiring to break a hundred thousand hearts.


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