The piano-vocal score to my song “The Very Same World” is finished now. If anyone wants to take a look at it, you can click on the title below. (It will lead to an 11-page pdf file.)
from the new musical Eden in Babylon
Words and Music by Andy Pope
Copyright © 2017 by Andrew Michael Pope
I’d hoped to get three of these finished and then approach a certain professor from the nearby School of Music. A number of people told me that he would be the logical person to talk to, if I wanted to find singers to help me out with my musical demo. But a couple things arose to deter me, much as I so desperately desired to proceed unhindered. First of all, I got behind schedule. I had been hoping to have two of them done by Friday, and the third by next Friday. Instead, I only have one of them done — and it’s already Monday. Secondly, I was somewhat intimidated by the man’s awe-inspiring credentials. This played into my natural shyness, and I began to doubt my fortitude.
But then, a mysterious turn of events took place. As it happens, the professor is actually coming to meet me. You see, the departing Minister of Music at my church has to leave during Holy Week due to the poor health of her husband. It turns out that she knows this professor, and so she called him to take over our rehearsal on Wednesday night, as well as the Good Friday and Easter Sunday services. So by this Wednesday, I will be following his conducting on the piano as I accompany our church choir. Naturally, I used this as a deadline to finish the score to The Very Same World. I printed it out today, and after I make minor corrections, I can simply show it to him. So my shyness and timidity are no longer an issue.
I also just happened to meet three decent singers who have expressed an interest in working with me on this project. One of them, a mezzo-soprano whom I ran into at the local pub, looked over my score briefly, then said she would reply to my call if I “posted a notice.” Being the new kid on the block here, I haven’t exactly found out where to post this notice. She said it with such authority, I did not want to admit my naivete. But then, I met two young men at a cafe who were working on theory assignments on music paper, so I invited them to come look at my score. Turned out one of them was a baritone, and we exchanged contact information. They also advised me that anyone can audit the Jazz Choir that meets in the afternoons throughout the week, and that I could pick up a bass part and sing with them. I don’t have to be a University student to participate. Finally, there’s this fellow Josh who works at the Bagel Shop downstairs from me, who has a degree in Acting and has sung professionally in musicals. He seems eager to help me out with this as well. So perhaps I already have two or three singers. I only need two or three more.
All of this points to an eerie phenomenon that might best be explained once it’s understood that I have only lived in this particular city for eight months. I came here from the San Francisco Bay Area, largely because the rising cost of living was getting to me on numerous levels. Six years ago, I lived in a situation that was almost identical to my present digs, as far as basic specs were concerned, and it rented for $900/mo. What do I pay here in Northern Idaho for the same set-up? You guessed it. $275/mo. So I finally came up here on a lark, answering a Craigslist ad, looking for a mere hole-in-the-wall where I could plug in my laptop, unhassled by numerous disconcerting factors: high crime rate, distrust among neighbors, frequent homelessness, and so forth.
I moved into small studio in an old-style apartment building, where there are business on the first floor, and residences on the higher floors. What I did not expect was for there to be a running store in my very building. Being a runner, this intrigued me. I then noticed yoga centers and bike shops. A health-and-wellness emphasis, I thought. Very good. I then learned about the School of Music, and that the State Repertory Theatre was founded here as well – in the year I was born, incidentally. As you soon will find, that’s quite germane.
The second week I was here, I applied for a part-time church position, was hired, and still hold that job today. Before I knew it, I was surrounded by Artists and Writers of all kinds. And as for music? I’m doing gigs all up and down the main drag. And culture? I heard more decent music my first five days in this small college community than I heard in Berkeley, California, in five years.
There is more to this story, so I might as well tell it.
Why did I choose Moscow, Idaho? Out of all the small out-of-the-way villages where I could have sought affordable housing, why Moscow? Because I was born here. I lived here the first year of my life when my dad was teaching ROTC at the University. Then his Navy career took us all over the country as well as to other parts of the world. I didn’t want my whole life to go by without seeing what Moscow, Idaho was like. When I came here, I was astounded. This city seemed to be custom-designed for me.
In the first four months I was here, I sequenced all the music I wrote internally after four of my laptops were successively stolen in Berkeley, and I could not afford to replace them. In the next three months, I sat down and finished a draft of the musical I had been struggling, through adverse circumstances in California, for five years. Now I’m working on the piano-vocal score to that musical. I have the same laptop now that I bought shortly before I left Berkeley. Had I stayed in Berkeley, I would never have been able to retain a laptop that long. It would have been stolen by now. In fact, considering the huge upsurge in violence that has taken place on the Berkeley streets since the election of our current clueless leader, I can’t help but wonder if I would even still be alive today, had I stayed in this unfavorable town.
This is why my faith has increased as much as it has. I was so angry and discouraged when I was homeless on the Berkeley streets, that I shouted out to God:
“WHY am I always forced to be hanging around thieves and hustlers and pimps and hookers and panhandlers and criminals and murderers? WHY does nobody care about my Music or my Art? WHY am I not hanging around Actors and Directors and Musicians and Writers and Artists??”
The question “Why?” is often moot. But if the desperation in that oft-repeated query could be interpreted as an entreaty to an unseen God, then the proof of the answer to that twisted prayer is in the very experience I own today. It happened in less than forty-eight hours. I hopped on a Greyhound, alighted randomly upon this little town in Idaho, answered an ad for a studio, and three days later signed a one-year lease. I’m where I am supposed to be. There is a God.