Winter Songs & Carols: Our Guest Vocalists

In our annual winter concert, Manitou Winds presents

a program of music, poetry, and prose inspiring you to embrace winter.

For this year’s Winter Songs & Carols performances, we’re delighted to be working with two talented vocalists who will grace the stage with their glittering interpretation of songs arranged especially for this year’s performances: Christy Burich and Emily Curtin Culler!

Christy Burich

Christy Burich

soprano

Christy moved to Traverse City only two years ago from Chicago, IL, where she’d been working as a Music Together center director for nearly 15 years sharing the joys of making music with young children and their families. Prior to that, she lived in Los Angeles for 10 years pursuing work in TV and film having received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

It was while living in California that Christy decided to pursue working with children and earned her Master of Arts in Marriage, Family Therapy, and Child Counseling. Still thoroughly devoted to her work with children, she currently she teaches Music Together classes at the Elevated Arts studio in Traverse City and works as a teacher assistant at The Children’s House. Christy is also a children’s birthday party entertainer and the self-producer of two children’s holiday CDs.

Marrying her delectably warm voice with her unmistakable stage presence, Christy recently charmed throngs of children and grown-ups alike when she landed the starring role in the Old Town Playhouse’s production of Mary Poppins – The Broadway Musical.

You’ll also have a chance to see Christy onstage, January 2017, in the Old Town Playhouse production of Stephen Sondheim’s Company which, will be under the musical direction of none other than Manitou Winds’ own Sam Clark!

Emily Culler

Emily Curtin Culler

soprano

Emily is an active soloist, chorister, and chamber musician who recently moved to Michigan from Boston. As a soprano Choral Scholar with Boston University’s Marsh Chapel Choir, she performed weekly services for audiences throughout New England and around the globe via WBUR.

She is also an original core member of the Lorelei Ensemble, a nine-voiced women’s chamber group dedicated to expanding the repertoire for women’s voices. The ensemble specializes in performing lesser-known early music while also collaborating with living composers to produce innovative programming that speaks to a wide audience. (Hear recordings of Emily singing with Lorelei HERE!)

Emily earned her Master of Science in Arts Administration with a Certificate in Fund Raising Management and Master of Music in Vocal Performance degrees from Boston University, while receiving her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Samford University. She also completed a special course of study in vocal performance at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England.

In addition to being an in-demand performer, Emily is a non-profit and arts management professional. Presently, she is Director of Development at Interlochen Public Radio, insuring quality programming for listeners all across Northern Michigan (and beyond!).

We were delighted to have both Christy and Emily out to Leelanau County, recently, for a Manitou Winds rehearsal. Naturally, rehearsal was followed by a celebratory dinner prepared by our own Woodwind Gourmet. Jason had asked both our soloists for their favorite winter dishes and then served up a meal featuring a few of their favorites. It was a great time to celebrate our collaboration and to get to know one another a little better. Here are two of the recipes for you to try out this winter!

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Tuscan Bean Soup
Serves 8
This is a wintertime favorite of Emily’s — a savory, heart-warming bowl of comfort. Jason’s version adds smoky bacon and a healthy helping of hearty greens to the mix.

Tuscan Bean Soup - Woodwind Gourmet1 pound dried cannellini beans
6 ounces applewood smoked bacon, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 large celery ribs, cut into bite-sized pieces
8 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups water
2 teaspoons dried summer savory
2 bay leaves
1 bunch collard greens, stemmed and chopped (or 10oz frozen)
1 14.5oz can whole tomatoes, crushed
1 sprig fresh rosemary

Soak beans at room temperature in 4 quarts water seasoned with 3 tablespoons sea salt for 8 hours or up to 24 hours; drain and rinse well. Alternately, you can use the “quick soak method”: in a Dutch oven cover the beans with water, add 3 tablespoons sea salt, bring to a boil, cover and boil for 2 minutes, remove from heat, let soak 1 hour. Drain and rinse well.

Preheat oven to 250-degrees. Sauté chopped bacon in Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fat has rendered and bacon is lightly browned. Add onion, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and lightly browned (10-15 minutes). Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in broth, water, Tuscan Bean Soup - Woodwind Gourmetsavory, bay leaves, and soaked beans. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Cover pot, transfer to preheated oven, and cook until beans are mostly tender (45 minutes).

Remove pot for oven and stir in greens, tomatoes, and rosemary. Return pot to oven and continue cooking until beans and greens are fully tender (40 minutes to an hour).

Discard bay leaves and rosemary, season with additional salt and pepper. Serve with warm, crusty bread and lots of friends!

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Irish Cream Truffles
Yields app. 30 truffles
Rich and sweet, these are one of Christy’s favorite ways to top off a wintertime celebration. With Irish Cream and dark chocolate, you’ll find it’s really hard to eat just one!

Irish Cream Truffles - Woodwind Gourmet8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
1⁄4 cup unsalted butter
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
1⁄3 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur
Cocoa powder for coating

Place the chocolate and butter in a double-broiler over medium-low heat or melt gently in the microwave; stirring frequently just until melted and uniform. Remove from heat; stir in heavy whipping cream and Bailey’s until fully incorporated. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 2 hours or until the mixture has hardened enough to handle.

Using a teaspoon or a melon baller, scoop the mixture into portions and roll into 1-inch balls using your fingertips. (This works best if you chill your hands in ice water before starting!) Place the portions on parchment. Once all have been shaped, roll the truffles in a shallow dish with cocoa powder to coat. Place on a serving platter or in a covered dish and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Don’t miss

Winter Songs & Carols

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Saturday, December 3rd, at 7:30pm

Grace Episcopal Church
341 Washington St.
Traverse City

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Friday, December 9th, at 7:30pm

The Leelanau School
1 Old Homestead Rd.
Glen Arbor

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Admission is free for both performances
A freewill offering will be taken

Our Virtual Potluck: Part IV

Potluck

The table is set, the buffet dishes are in place, the napkins are neatly folded, the kitties are on their best behavior. It’s time for the Manitou Winds Virtual Potluck!

The silverware and napkins are over there by the plates. You might as well dig in. I think I hear our next guest arriving…

Anne BaraIt’s Anne Bara, our clarinetist. In addition to her music stand and the requisite reams of sheet music, Anne often brings two clarinets with her — one is her Bb clarinet and the other is an A clarinet (used for all those pieces with sharps in the key signature). They look almost identical except the A clarinet is slightly longer. Do they sound alike? That’s a constant source of debate and discussion!

Yes! It’s cold out there!! “I grew up in South Dakota,” Anne says, “so a winter without snow and storms and ice would just seem wrong! I will say I miss the sun we always had in South Dakota. Even when there was a wind chill well below zero for days in a row, there was always sun — certainly can’t say that here!”

In spite of the cloudy days a Northern Michigan winter most reliably brings, Anne doesn’t mind winter at all. “My children love to play in the snow,” she says. “This winter I’ve been outside way more than I ever have in previous years. I love to snowshoe and Anne Baraice skate, too, but those are both pretty impossible to do with a 2- and 4-year-old!” In fact, just bundling up all those hands, feet, and faces to brace against the wind is likely a feat of planning unto itself!

Anne was the last official member to join Manitou Winds, coming aboard a few months after we initially began. It was tough to find a clarinetist who was not only up to the challenge but also willing to devote the necessary rehearsal time to learning what’s often very demanding music.

Chamber music places unique demands on clarinetists. A typical clarinet part in a wind quintet contains music that runs the gamut from “backup singer” to “complete diva” — leaving no room for timidity or fumbling fingers. The performer must have a comfortable grasp on the full range of the instrument and be able to change NEO Triomoods and character at a moment’s notice in order to hold up their part of the overall piece.

“My favorite thing about being a part of a chamber group is just being able to play really awesome music and getting to see friends on a regular basis. We then get to perform together this music we’ve worked so hard to perfect,” she says. “My least favorite part? When I screw up during rehearsal or when I know I haven’t had time to prepare like I ought to — I can’t hide!” Nerve-wracking as those wrong notes or missed entries can be for any musician, they’re usually a welcome source of comedic relief during rehearsals! You’re never allowed to take yourself too seriously for very long.

Anne and her husband, Tom, (both musicians and educators) have lived in the Traverse City area since 2002. The area is rife with scenic beauty, cozy lakeside towns, and unique artsy finds of all sorts. What would the Bara’s do if they were given a week-long “staycation” where errands and chores were forbidden? “I would spend lots of time hiking with my family,” says Anne, “That’s one thing we all enjoy — although the youngest prefers to be carried in a backpack! Manitou WindsI’d also love to tour the wineries again — it’s been years since we’ve done that and there are so many new ones now. We’d definitely go to the farmer’s markets and cook elaborate feasts at home.”

Anne and her family tend to eat more meals at home than at restaurants. Their favorite go-to recipes this time of year are chicken paprikash, lentils & rice, chickpeas with spinach & tomatoes, or a big pot of chili. She enjoys cooking and spending time in the kitchen, attributing most of that fascination to a summer off from college she spent in New York City living with her aunt.

“She taught me all about fresh mozzarella and parmesan (I’d only ever had the kind you shake onto pizza at Pizza Hut!),” says Anne. “She taught me about farmer’s markets where we bought countless vegetables I’d never had or even heard of before. She taught me how to make bread — I kept a sourdough starter in my fridge for years after that.”

Anne still enjoys those gourmet pursuits but finds it more challenging with the sometimes finicky palates of her two young children as her critics. Anne Bara“Our kids are mostly tolerant — even if they don’t always eat a lot of the food we make,” says Anne. “My son, particularly, likes to help me cook and bake — even though it does mean an extra hour or two to complete a project!”

Other than cooking, Anne loves spending time in the garden — an activity that the kids are getting more involved with each passing year in the digging, weeding, and watering. “I used to spend the whole summer outside taking care of our flower gardens. Fortunately, I have all perennials, so the gardens still look good even though I’ve taken about four years off.”

For today’s potluck, Anne’s brought a sure-fire party favorite that marries her love of the kitchen with her love of the garden.

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Tex-Mex Guacamole
Yields about 2 cups
Anne says this is her favorite recipe to take to parties. It’s quick and easy to put together and adds a welcome reminder of summer during these cloudy wintry days.

Tex-Mex Guacamole2 medium-size Haas avocados
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 small tomato, seeded and finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeño pepper (leave seeds in for a zesty dip!)
1-2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

Halve the avocados lengthwise. Remove and reserve the pits. Scoop the flesh into a medium bowl. Add the lime juice and salt; mash with a fork or potato masher, mixing well.

Add the green onions, tomato, garlic, jalapeño, and cilantro; mix well. Serve immediately or press the avocado pits halfway into the dip and cover tightly with plastic wrap to prevent browning. Will keep nicely for 2 days. Serve with tortilla chips, salsa, and cheese.

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Looking for more recipes? Check out the other recent Woodwind Gourmet series:

Series I: Oboes, Oranges & Almonds

Series II: Composers & Coffee

Series III: Notable Breakfasts

Series IV: Our Virtual Potluck

Our Virtual Potluck: Part III

Potluck

The table is set, the buffet dishes are in place, the napkins are neatly folded, the kitties are on their best behavior. It’s time for the Manitou Winds Virtual Potluck!

The table is filling up… it’s already starting to smell great in here. Did you grab yourself a cup of tea or cocoa? Keep that orange cat away from Sam’s lasagna!

I’m Jason, by the way: Manitou Winds’ oboist, pianist, and harpist. Nice to meet you!

Jason McKinneyYes! It’s cold outside! I was born and raised in South Louisiana, but I’ve lived in the Midwest since 2005. Winter here in Northern Michigan always takes me a bit by surprise — every year it’s different! But, I can’t deny that I love it. My husband and I try to get out into the snow and cold as much as possible — snowshoeing and hiking, mainly. The cloud cover starts to wear on me a bit by March, but that’s usually when we take a little trip to Louisiana to visit my family and see the azaleas and wisteria in full bloom.

I’ve noticed winter is typically when I find time to get most of the arranging and composing done for Manitou Winds. With evening coming so quickly this time of year, I brew a cup of coffee or tea and head to the piano bench to plan the coming year’s musical adventures. Right now, in fact, I’m working on the 2016 Winter Songs & Carols program. It is a Jason McKinneylittle strange to be thinking about the holidays in January and February, but the cold helps! I really have to seize the day before I get too busy with other things.

Other than music, I spend a lot of spare time planning and working in a fairly large web of gardens that I sketched out and began with James. Of course, we’re not done creating the gardens, but these things take time — and work! For the vegetable garden, we start most of the seedlings ourselves usually around February, and then things just get busier from there as the weeding, watering, and planting sessions get longer and more frequent into June. It’s a lot of work, but I enjoy the exercise and the excuse to be outdoors. I do get an inordinate amount of pleasure from growing and gathering a lot of our own Jason McKinneyfood — and preserving it. Yep, we can stuff! Jams, pickles, tomato sauces… it’s a little strange how much I enjoy filling up the pantry.

Before I picked the oboe back up and Manitou Winds was just this faraway idea in my head, I usually spent all of winter working on patchwork quilting and learning to speak Gaeilge (Irish… but that’s an ongoing story for another time). The garden usually kept me too busy to do much on my quilting projects or Rosetta Stone during spring and summer, but after all the canning started dying down in autumn, I’d pick things back up and usually finish a quilting project or two and master a few new units and verbs.

These days, I find the oboe is a very demanding presence. Keeping up with reeds, music, and ensembles has pretty much shoved quilting to the back burner. If I had more time, I think I’d still be quilting. It was tedious work, at times, but I really enjoyed the overall Jason McKinneyprocess. Stepping away from the fabric was a compromise in a lot of ways, but as long as I’m learning and enjoying what I’m doing it’s worth it.

I always said quilting reminded me of drawing or painting — two things I was never any good at. Working with all the little patches of fabric was my way of “painting”. If I’m honest, composing and arranging for Manitou Winds pretty much reminds me of quilting. There’s the tedium of the minute details within each measure and the process of actually getting these notes onto paper. Then, there’s the edits and rewrites when something isn’t quite what I wanted it to be, and the excitement that grows as the pieces gradually come together. And finally, there’s that moment when you can step back and see/hear the whole picture.

I still get nervous about premiering pieces — performing in general. But my nervousness is always overshadowed by the joy I feel in getting to share this music with the musicians (my friends) and eventually our audience. Keeping it all to yourself just wouldn’t be satisfying at all.

Open Space 3

The same thing goes for food! Today I made two Irish-themed recipes to share at the potluck…

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Shepherd’s Pie
Serves 4-6
One of my all-time favorite comfort foods! I prefer to leave the potato skins on (for color and fiber), but peeling them is okay too. To adjust the consistency and amount of the sauce, just adjust the amount of stock you add. There’s only enough cheese here to add flavor so be sure to use a sharp cheese.

Woodwind Gourmet1 1/2 pounds red potatoes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup low fat sour cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound lean ground meat (beef, pork, lamb, or turkey)
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1 1/3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup low-sodium beef or chicken stock (approximately, see above)
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup green peas
2 1/2 ounces Dubliner or sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.

Wash potatoes and cut into 1″ cubes (unpeeled). Boil in salted water until fork tender; drain and return to pot. Add butter and mash into potatoes until nearly smooth. Add sour cream and mix thoroughly; add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and set aside.

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, brown and crumble the ground meat seasoning with salt and pepper to taste; gradually add the rosemary, thyme, and sage. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture, stirring to incorporate; cook for 1 minute. Gradually add to the skillet approximately 1 cup of stock while stirring (the stock you add will determine how saucy Shepherd's Piethe “filling” of the pie will be); bring to a full simmer. Stir in diced carrots and peas and return to a simmer; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 12 minutes or until carrots are fork tender and sauce has thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour the meat mixture into a 2-quart (preferably round) casserole dish. Top with cheese to make a thin layer. Spoon the mashed potato mixture atop the cheese and then spread evenly to completely cover; sprinkle with additional dried herbs and pepper, if desired. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until mixture is bubbly on bottom and potatoes are beginning to brown slightly on the edges. Allow to cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

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County Cavan Brown Bread
Yields 1 loaf (app. 12 slices)
I adapted this recipe from an authentic Irish cookbook. It’s the easiest and tastiest homemade bread you can bake — wholesome with oats and honey. Leftovers are excellent toasted and lightly buttered and served with breakfast or tea.

IMG_63091 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup quick oats
1/4 cup steel-cut oats
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Lightly oil or butter an 8×4-inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, quick oats, steel-cut oats, salt, baking soda, and baking powder; whisk together until uniformly combined.

In a medium bowl, add the honey and gradually stir in the buttermilk to dissolve the honey. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture, pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture; mix just until thoroughly combined. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan.

Bake at 400-degrees for 35-40 minutes or until loaf top is a dark golden-brown. Allow to cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes before turning out onto rack to cool.

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Looking for more recipes? Check out the other recent Woodwind Gourmet series:

Series I: Oboes, Oranges & Almonds

Series II: Composers & Coffee

Series III: Notable Breakfasts

Series IV: Our Virtual Potluck

Winter Songs & Carols: Susan Hatt Johnson

Winter Songs & Carols will be Manitou Winds’ first-ever concert — one they hope to make an annual tradition in Northern Michigan. It’s a concert in exploration of the many facets of winter — from the holidays we look forward to each year to the more mundane aspects of a season that tends to get a lot of bad press. Each year, Manitou Winds plans to Susan Hatt Johnson - Version 2gather music — new and old — to celebrate winter in new and exciting ways.

For this year’s event, Manitou Winds is tremendously honored to be working with the glittering talent of none other than Susan Hatt Johnson of Frankfort, MI!

If you’re a lover of music and the arts in Northern Michigan, it’s likely you have already experienced Susan’s dynamic stage presence and powerful performances. In addition to singing and dancing with the sensational SwingShift (a local swing band) in various hot spots around Northern Michigan, she has made recent guest performances in Traverse City with both The Dance Center, Inc. and Encore Winds, belting out demanding diva ballads such as My Heart Will Go On and Where Are You Christmas.

Susan has also graced the stage in two recent productions with Traverse City’s stellar Old Town Playhouse. In 2013, she starred as Fantine in OTP’s production of Les Miserables.

Then, in spring 2015, she starred as Gingy/Sugarplum Fairy in the OTP production of Shrek: The Musical where she was joined onstage by her husband, Brian Johnson, who starred as Lord Farquaad:

Manitou Winds is delighted to partner with Susan for Winter Songs & Carols. For this performance, Jason has arranged four unique songs to highlight Susan’s remarkable versatility, pairing her with the members of the ensemble in imaginative ways.

“These four songs are likely going to be a surprise for our audience,” he says, “Most people would expect purely Christmas music, but we’re taking this in a different direction.” Jason won’t disclose what four songs Susan will be singing, but he did mention Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, and Loreena McKennitt.

Manitou Winds’ Woodwind Gourmet had an opportunity to chat a bit with Susan after her recent rehearsal.

WWG: Did you always know you wanted to be a singer/actress? Did you have training as a vocalist?

Susan: I have been singing for as long as I can remember — even as a young child. My parents bought me an old upright piano when I was eight years old. I started acting in junior high. Then, in high school, I started writing my own music. I always knew I would do something with music, though I made a pact with myself (right around the time I started private lessons at age 15) that I would not major in music/theater, so I’d have some other career skill to fall back on. But, while at MSU, I did continue training in opera and musical theater.

WWG: You were originally from Muskegon. You went to MSU. You and your family now live in Frankfort. Obviously you’re a Michigander through and through! What’s your favorite part about living in Northern Michigan?

Susan: Of course I’d have to say it’s the people of Northern Michigan. But, definitely also the arts, here. And you can’t forget Lake Michigan.

And, as you’d expect, he didn’t let her get away before asking what Susan’s favorite wintertime dinner is…

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White Chicken Chili
Serves 6-8

3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed
salt & pepper
1 tablespoon oil
Woodwind Gourmet White Chicken Chili3-4 hot chili peppers (a mix of varieties)
4 poblano chiles, stemmed, seeded, & chopped finely
2 large yellow onions, chopped finely
8 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 15oz cans cannellini or navy beans, rinsed & drained
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
4 scallions, sliced thinly

Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown the chicken thighs (about 4 minutes per side) then transfer to a plate; remove and discard skin.

Meanwhile, remove and discard ribs and seeds from 2 hot chili peppers; mince and set aside. (Note: you can leave all the seeds and ribs in if you prefer your chili spicy!)

After removing the browned chicken, pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from the Dutch oven (add additional oil if necessary), and reduce heat to medium. Add minced chili peppers, chopped poblanos, onions, garlic, cumin, coriander, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened (about 10 minutes).

Transfer 1 cup cooked vegetable mixture to a food processor or blender. Add 1 cup beans and 1 cup broth; process until smooth. Return this mixture to the Dutch White Chicken Chilioven along with the remaining 2 cups broth and the browned chicken thighs. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes or until chicken registers 165-degrees.

Transfer chicken to a large plate. Stir in remaining beans and continue to simmer, covered. When cool enough to handle, shred chicken into bite-sized pieces; discard bones. Stir the shredded chicken, lime juice, cilantro, and scallions into chili and return to simmer. Allow flavors to mingle for another 10 minutes or so. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a dallop of sour cream and a side of corn muffins or crusty bread.

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Don’t miss Winter Songs & Carols
Saturday, December 5th, at 7:00pm
Grace Episcopal Church
341 Washington Street
Traverse City

Admission is free.
A freewill offering will be taken to benefit Grace’s Friday Community Lunch Mission.

Woodwind Gourmet: Jason’s Müesli

IMG_5497I have always been hesitant to call myself a composer. Looking through scraps of manuscripts saved from my college years and my high school journals, it’s obvious I’ve always aspired to be one. Thankfully, it wasn’t some misguided pursuit of fame or fortune that drove me to compose. It was a spark of inspiration that often seemed to come out of nowhere — a brisk fall breeze, a bumpy bus ride home from school, being afraid of the dark — all of these things eventually transcribed themselves in my head as tunes needing to be written down.

As a kid, I composed tunes on my tiny Casio keyboard; I never wrote them down, I just kept them in my mental repertory. In early high school, I began creating my own staff paper — one line at a time — using a ruler, a pencil, and some typing paper. It would be an embarrassingly long time before I discovered or had opportunity to buy manuscript books (where the staves are already printed for you!). Between my slow, uneducated process and my unending obsession IMGwith perfectly parallel lines, it’s a wonder I ever committed anything to paper at all!

All of this scribbling eventually led to an event that forever changed my life. On October 23rd, 1996, one of my compositions was performed by a local university’s wind ensemble. My high school band director, who loaned me his old orchestration books (most of which flew right over my head at the time), urged me to enter a national composition contest and arranged for my piece to be recorded.

To properly set the scene, I should also mention I’d set aside my saxophone a few months earlier to start playing oboe (poorly). Nonetheless, I had great affection for the oboe and featured it rather prominently in my composition. Just days before the recording session, the conductor called my band director to inform us the university’s oboist would not be able to perform for the recording. He was wondering if I would perform with the group. Suddenly, writing that big oboe solo in the opening few measures of the piece seemed less than inspired. Did I want to perform oboe on the recording? I wasn’t sure I wanted to play oboe ever again! But, it was my oboe or no oboe, so I agreed.

The big day came and I was onstage in the massive recital hall with all of these college people. It was my music sitting on their stands (all the lines were perfectly parallel). I had my cheap oboe reed and my school’s janky student-model oboe in my lap. I was trying to keep my cool while the musicians were warming up. I could hear random bits and pieces of my composition flying all over the place.

The pianist came over to me and very politely mentioned that — for my next piece — I should be sure all the beats line up together in both staves for the piano part. I was wide-eyed IMG_8479and nodded in agreement… in time, I would also learn that dots always go to the right of the note-head and flags always fly to the right regardless of which direction the stem is pointing (or which way the wind is blowing).

Finally the conductor gave that first downbeat…

For as long as I live, I’ll never forget the feeling. It was as though the room was spinning while sound was coming from all around me — not just any sound, but a “living sound”. It was more than sound, it was colorful and vibrant — almost tangible, as if every particle in the air was vibrating, coming to life, glowing. The sound was more alive than anything I’d been able to imagine while making all those scribblings on my homemade staff paper.

When the time came, I played the oboe solo to the best of my ability… my warbly, reedy, sharp, unrefined ability. As much as I should have been afraid, there was an energy inside that swirling sound that buoyed my sunken confidence, overshadowing my worries about how unqualified and unworthy I was. Music really is a miraculous thing.

I didn’t win the competition, of course. I didn’t even get an honorable mention. It was a national competition. I was from a very small public high school (fewer than 300 students). I’d never had an opportunity to write a large-scale piece before; my high school band was never more than about 25 students. I’d never had a music theory class or used music software. I had so much to learn! Rather than being disappointed, however, I was hooked: the spark from that first downbeat forever branded me a composer.

I listened to the recording every day for a long time. I kept wanting that feeling of the initial downbeat to come rushing over me again. I quickly learned it is a very elusive feeling, one a recording cannot capture. When I listen to that cassette recording, now — almost 20 years later — that piece, that day, that oboist, all seem so distant, unreal. I also understand the biting, cringing feeling of regret and remorse that drives some composers to destroy their early compositions!

Fortunately, among the musicians of Manitou Winds, I have found an opportunity most composers would envy: IMG_8209living, breathing musicians who willingly play any scribblings I place in front of them. I have the honor of learning from their experience while getting to enjoy that elusive “living sound” far more often than I would have ever imagined.

For our Spring 2016 concert, we will be presenting a program entitled “New Voices” — highlighting new composers and music written within the past 20 years. Along with a list of very talented composers’ works, one of my pieces, Three Narratives (2014) for flute, clarinet, bassoon, and piano, will be on the program.

Today’s recipe, the final one from our series of “Notable Breakfasts”, is one of my personal favorite breakfasts. You can easily put it together the night before and then adorn it with whatever goodies you happen to have on-hand, depending on the season and your mood. No cooking required!

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Müesli
Serves 2

Jason's Muesli 11 cup old-fashioned oats
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 cup milk
a tiny pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 medium apple, diced
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice* or ground cinnamon

In a medium bowl, combine the oats, honey, milk and salt; stir until combined. In a small bowl, combine the orange juice and raisins. Cover both the oat mixture and the raisin mixture; refrigerate overnight.

Divide oat mixture, soaked raisins, and any remaining orange juice into two serving bowls. Divide yogurt, apple, walnuts, vanilla, and spice between the two bowls; fold the mixture together. Serve chilled.

*Jason’s Mixed Spice
Yields about 4 tablespoons
Woodwind Gourmet
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Combine the spices in a small bowl or jar and keep in an airtight container. More exciting than plain cinnamon and more complex than pumpkin spice; you’ll find lots of opportunities to use this blend.

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Looking for more recipes? Check out the other recent Woodwind Gourmet series:

Series I: Oboes, Oranges & Almonds

Series II: Composers & Coffee

Series III: Notable Breakfasts

Series IV: Our Virtual Potluck

Woodwind Gourmet: Jenni’s Tofu Scramble

IMG_5268My fascination with composers’ eating habits began innocently enough in my undergraduate years… now that I’m no longer a student and can study anything I choose, I’ve decided to dust off that quest and go off in search of my favorite composers’ favorite breakfasts!

While composers throughout history could often seek out the patronage of wealthy nobility, giant churches, or prominent artistic organizations to propel their careers and their musical growth forward, composers of today face a completely different reality. In our modern era, a composer is just one voice in an endless sea of voices — all struggling to hone their skills, express their ideas, and (above all else) have their music performed. With orchestras and other large ensembles across the globe struggling to keep seats filled and finances in check, there is precious little room for new names on concert programs.

Jenni Brandon (b. 1977) knows that struggle first-hand. Through hard work, dedication, and (admittedly) a Jenni-Brandonlittle luck, her compositions have already been performed all over the world — invaluable exposure that has garnered commissions from a variety of ensembles and chamber groups. She’s amassed an impressive and ever-expanding catalog of unique, original pieces for various types of ensembles. One might say she deftly navigates the “sea of voices” while maintaining a voice all her own.

With evocative titles and colorful, motivic writing, she paints landscapes using the human voice, musical instruments, and harmonic textures as her paints and canvas. In the same way a writer may go people-watching, probing the expressions and mannerisms of strangers while forming characters for their next plotline; Jenni often finds inspiration by immersing herself in nature and in the practice of Yoga.

“I do love my work and I feel blessed and content to have such joy in my life: writing music is part of my fabric, and teaching yoga has become a joyful way to serve others. I believe these are part of my jenni-triangle-fixpath,… We might stray from our path, we might seek contentment and balance outside of us, but it is that inner voice, that True Self, that whispers to us and draws us back to where we need to be.” — Jenni Brandon

While we can’t rattle off an e-mail to Mozart to ask his advice about a particular passage or pick the brain of Beethoven by leaving a comment on his Facebook wall, today’s musicians and composers have exciting, unique opportunities to collaborate — taking new music to new audiences in new ways.

Manitou Winds is presently studying two of Jenni Brandon’s works: On Holt Avenue (2006), for solo oboe and piano; and Found Objects: On the Beach (2013), for oboe, clarinet, and bassoon. Our goal is to feature these two works on a program in 2016 along with music from other new composers written within the last 20 years.

Recently, I e-mailed Jenni to congratulate her on creating these two beautiful pieces… and, of course, to ask her about her favorite breakfast. Imagine my delight when she responded! She said she was happy to take part in our series — and especially to be our vegetarian/vegan composer.

Jenni’s a big fan of getting breakfast from her juicer, but she’s also a sucker for a good sit-down breakfast like this Tofu Scramble. If you’re new to tofu scrambles, you’re sure to be hooked. They allow plenty of room for improvisation — add or take away any vegetables you’d like — and they’re easy to throw together for breakfast or even a quick dinner.

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Tofu Scramble
Serves 4

4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, diced
2 cups chopped broccoli florets
Jenni's Tofu Scramble 21 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 medium carrot, shredded
4 cloves garlic, minced
2-4 chili peppers, chopped* (jalapeños or a mix of varieties)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
14 ounces extra-firm tofu, crumbled
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Corn or Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas
Pepper Jack, Sharp Cheddar, or Vegan Cheese (optional)
Salsa (optional)

Heat two teaspoons of the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion; cook until translucent and golden. Stir in the broccoli, bell pepper, and carrot; cook until crisp-tender (3-4 minutes). Transfer the vegetables to a plate; keep warm.

To the now empty skillet add remaining oil, garlic, chili peppers, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Sauté for Jenni's Tofu Scramble 3about 30 seconds to release the flavors. Stir in turmeric and crumbled tofu; cook 2-3 minutes or until tofu has dried slightly and begun to lightly brown. Return the sautéed vegetables to the skillet; stir and cook until heated through. Serve on warmed tortillas and top with cheese and salsa if desired. Leftover scramble is delicious and easily reheated.

*If you want a milder scramble, remove the seeds and membranes from the chiles. Jenni prefers it spicy, though… and so do I!

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For the perfect Jenni Brandon soundtrack to accompany your serene scramble, here’s the fourth movement, entitled “Daisies”, from On Holt Avenue:

Looking for more recipes? Check out the other recent Woodwind Gourmet series:

Series I: Oboes, Oranges & Almonds

Series II: Composers & Coffee

Series III: Notable Breakfasts

Woodwind Gourmet: Jacques’ Pain Perdu

IMG_8426My fascination with composers’ eating habits began innocently enough in my undergraduate years… now that I’m no longer a student and can study anything I choose, I’ve decided to dust off that quest and go off in search of my favorite composers’ favorite breakfasts!

It’s interesting to note the stories of composers whose parents approved of their vocation and compare them with composers whose musical pursuits went against their parents’ wishes. Jacques Ibert (1890-1962) was in the unique position of being supported endlessly by his mother while being completely disapproved of by his father.

Some say it’s a subtle theme underscoring much of his work: an underlying sense of never quite belonging. Looking over Ibert’s catalog of works, you notice he wrote for many different kinds of ensembles and for vastly different purposes. In fact, he’s most noted for being an eclectic — never aligning himself with prevalent genres or styles yet borrowing and combining all of their elements.

Ibert’s mother — an accomplished pianist — was his first music teacher. His father, a businessman, withdrew all financial support when — at age 21 — Jacques resigned from Iberthis position at his father’s company to enter the Paris Conservatoire. To provide for himself, Ibert eked out a living by working as an accompanist and writing pop songs under a pen name. Proving his prowess as an improviser, he was also employed as pianist at a silent film theater where he performed music to fit the action taking place onscreen. He went on to write over 60 film scores.

Spanning many genres and media, Ibert also composed operas, ballets, concertos, and varied forms of incidental and chamber music. Manitou Winds studies his Cinq Pièces en Trio (1935) for oboe, clarinet, and bassoon. We’re soon to delve into his Trois Pièces en Brèves (1930) for wind quintet.

Though he rose from obscurity to prominence during his lifetime (winning numerous awards), it is perhaps because of his refusal to pursue a single musical genre or form that he’s not on many “Top 10” lists of composers. Instead, audiences are often pleasantly introduced to him when one of his works graces a program. Hopefully his daring use of orchestral colors peppered with hidden musical surprises will continue to inspire musicians and audiences alike to seek out more of his music.

A composer growing up in Paris while bridging the 19th and 20th centuries probably ate some interesting breakfasts — a mix of gourmet and eating on the cheap. In homage to Ibert’s eclecticism, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight a recipe that is simultaneously simple while betraying decidedly gourmet influence. Today’s recipe is an autumn-inspired riff on classic Pain Perdu (literally “lost bread”). Dressed down, it’s just stale bread dipped in egg batter and fried up. Dressed up, it’s adorned with exotic spices and rich, complex flavors of fruit and wine.

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Pain Perdu with Fruit Compote
Serves 2

Fruit Compote:
2 cups Riesling or Gewurztraminer
2 cups water
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 3-inch Ceylon cinnamon stick
Pain Perdu1 star anise
2 whole cloves
8 mission figs, stems removed, quartered lengthwise
10 dried apricots, cut into strips
3/4 cup dried tart cherries

Pain Perdu:
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk or heavy cream
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 slices bread (brioche or challah are ideal)
Lightly Sweetened Whipped Cream

To make the Fruit Compote: In a medium saucepan combine wine, water, and sugar. Combine the cinnamon stick, anise, and cloves in a teabag or piece of cheesecloth; tie closed with kitchen string. Add spice bag to saucepan; cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture comes to boiling. Add figs and cook for 3 minutes. Add apricots and cook for 3 minutes more. Add cherries and cook for 2 more minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer fruit to a bowl. Raise the heat slightly and continue cooking liquid for 15-20 minutes or until reduced to about 1 cup. Remove spice bag and discard. Pour liquid over fruit. Allow to come to room temperature, then chill, covered, up to 4 days. (Leftover compote makes an excellent accompaniment for plain yogurt, oatmeal, or poundcake!)

To make Pain Perdu: In a shallow dish, whisk together the eggs, milk, maple syrup, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon. Melt half of the butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. While the skillet is heating, dip the bread slices into the batter, turning them and re-dipping as necessary until the batter has been absorbed. Place Woodwind Gourmettwo slices of bread in the skillet; cook approximately 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove from skillet (slices can be kept warm in a low oven if desired); add remaining butter and brown remaining slices.

To serve: Warm the finished compote slightly. Divide bread slices between two plates. Top each with several scoops of the macerated fruit from the compote then drizzle each serving with several spoonfuls of the spiced syrup. Garnish each serving with a dollop of whipped cream and a dash of ground cinnamon.

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For the perfect Ibert soundtrack to your whisking, dipping, and noshing, here’s one of Ibert’s best-known works: Divertissement (1929).

Looking for more recipes? Check out the other recent Woodwind Gourmet series:

Series I: Oboes, Oranges & Almonds

Series II: Composers & Coffee

Series III: Notable Breakfasts

Woodwind Gourmet: Haydn’s Cherry-Almond Tart

IMG_8429My fascination with composers’ eating habits began innocently enough in my undergraduate years… now that I’m no longer a student and can study anything I choose, I’ve decided to dust off that quest and go off in search of my favorite composers’ favorite breakfasts!

When we think of the lives of Classical music’s most storied composers, what likely comes to our minds is either stuffy, powdered wig scenery (fancy galas with wealthy people dressed in their finery) or we think of the tortured, starving artist scribbling onto scraps of manuscript paper. While both images are in some cases true, each composer’s story is unique in its own way — even when compared to composers of the same time period.

Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) is one of my favorite composers — and not just because of his music. Haydn’s story is one of those classic, rags-to-riches narratives with a happy ending. Born in a small town to parents who could neither read music nor provide him with any advanced training, Haydn slowly and patiently worked his way Haydnthrough the often complicated layers of 18th century society to become one of the greatest and most prolific composers in history.

Haydn went from a nearly-starved schoolboy to a wealthy and well-connected composer who enjoyed celebrity status in his later years. While he’s regarded as the “father” of both the symphony and the string quartet, it’s amazing to realize he was neither a child prodigy nor privileged enough to receive formal instruction in composition. Thus, he was largely self-taught — privately working his way through textbooks and scores while working odd jobs as a young man.

Because of his skills as a violinist, he gradually gained the favor of aristocratic patronage. When he eventually came to be an official staff member of Hungarian nobility, he was finally in a position that would provide him with all the resources needed to hone his compositional skills. In fact, his success in composition became a vital part of staying alive!

Like any other member of staff, he wore a uniform and lived in servants’ quarters. Rather than scrubbing chamber pots and clearing out horse stables, however, he was required to write, rehearse, and conduct all of the music for the noble family and their many guests. During his time with the Esterházy family (1761-1790), he faced a mountainous workload and ever-shifting musical and non-musical demands. Thankfully, he also had daily access to his own very talented orchestra and the finest singers. This proved to be most advantageous for his artistic growth, allowing him to experiment at Esterházawill. Within the staggering musical output he created while serving the Esterházy family, one can trace the evolution of style and technique that eventually shaped all of Classical music — and he was self-taught!

The immense wealth of the Esterházy family eventually led them to construct a new palace (mainly as a summer residence) in Esterháza. It was an immense palace not only boasting 126 rooms but also containing its own church, opera house, and marionette theater. Haydn’s residence was moved each year from Eisenstadt to the Esterháza estate each time the family relocated. Though trapped in the middle of nowhere — isolated from civilization and in the middle of what was then swampland — work never slowed for Haydn.

On one occasion, after having returned once again to Esterháza, Haydn wrote in a letter to his friend Marianne von Genzinger:

Well, here I sit in my wilderness; forsaken, like some poor orphan, almost without human society, melancholy and dwelling on the memory of past glorious days… I lost twenty pounds in weight in three days, for the effects of the good fare at Vienna has disappeared on the journey back. Alas! alas! thought I to myself, when forced to eat…a tough grill instead of a Bohemian pheasant, Hungarian salad instead of good juicy oranges, and dry apple fritters instead of pastry. Here in Esterháza no one asks me, “Would you like chocolate with or without milk? Will you take coffee with or without cream? What can I offer you, my good Haydn? Will you have vanilla ice or strawberry?”

Being a man who obviously appreciated good food, Haydn would have loved today’s recipe — a slice of this Viennese-style Cherry-Almond Tart served alongside his morning coffee (with or without cream, whichever he wished).

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Cherry-Almond Tart
Serves 8-12

Tart Shell:
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Woodwind Gourmet1/4 teaspoon sea salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2/3 cup cake flour

Filling:
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups pitted tart cherries – (fresh, canned, or thawed frozen)

For the shell: Whisk together the egg, egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a large bowl; whisk until mixture turns a light yellow. Continuing to whisk, add softened butter one tablespoon at a time, whisking until combined. With a wooden spoon, gradually work in both flours until a smooth dough forms.

Place a large sheet of plastic wrap on work surface. Empty dough onto the plastic wrap; knead gently to incorporate any loose dry ingredients. Form dough into a disk and cover with plastic wrap; chill for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

For the filling: Add almonds and flour to the bowl of a food processor; pulse until larger pieces are more manageable and then finely grind. Add the sugar; pulse briefly. Next, add softened butter and extract; blend until smooth. Mix in egg and egg white. Transfer filling to medium bowl; cover and chill until needed.

To assemble and bake: Remove tart dough disk from refrigerator and allow to stand at room temperature for about 5-10 minutes to soften slightly. Place the dough in a removable-bottom tart pan (you may use a 9-, 10-, or 11-inch tart pan); pressing the dough, work it with your fingertips to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Using a fork, prick the bottom of the shell in several places. Place unbaked shell in freezer to chill for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400-degrees. Place rack in center of oven.

Remove shell from the freezer; cover with two overlapping sheets of aluminum foil. Fill tart pan with pie weights making sure the weights are to the top of the pan and evenly distributed over the entire surface. Bake the shell for 20 to 25 minutes or until it is Haydn's Cherry-Almond Tart 2dry and lightly golden brown. Gently remove foil and weights; allow to cool on wire rack before filling.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Once shell has cooled, spread the chilled filling evenly into the bottom. Place cherries atop filling and bake for 40-50 minutes or until filling has puffed and browned slightly. Allow to cool completely before serving.

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Want an ideal Haydn-esque soundtrack to enjoy your coffee and tart? Haydn’s Symphony No. 45 in F-sharp Minor (The “Farewell” Symphony) is entirely appropriate. The final movement was Haydn’s nudge to Prince Esterházy that it was time to pick things up, leave the swamp, and head back to Eisenstadt. During the adagio in the fourth movement, each musician stops playing, snuffs out the candle on his music stand, and leaves in turn, so that by the end, there are just two muted violins left on stage!

Looking for more recipes? Check out the other recent Woodwind Gourmet series:

Series I: Oboes, Oranges & Almonds

Series II: Composers & Coffee

Series III: Notable Breakfasts

Woodwind Gourmet: Bach’s Bread & Biersuppe

IMG_8426My fascination with composers’ eating habits began innocently enough in my undergraduate years.  Between long stints in the practice room, I would sit in the music building break room where I would invariably find myself in the company of many of my classmates. We were always in various stages of pain or ecstasy with our homework or practicing.

During one particularly long spell of analyzing the harmony and form of a Bach prelude, one of my classmates became frustrated and sighed, “I don’t care what Bach ate for breakfast, I just need to get through this assignment!” We all chuckled because we understood the sentiment; getting bogged down in the minute details of a piece was often exhausting while it was pure bliss to simply get lost in the beauty of its sound.

Later, I found myself casually wondering, “What did Bach eat for breakfast?” I carefully filed that curiosity away for a more appropriate time, since there were more pressing matters at hand. But, now that I’m no longer a student and can study anything I choose, I’ve decided to dust off that quest and go off in search of my favorite composers’ favorite breakfasts!

Which, of course, eventually leads us to Germany in the early 1700s and may involve some “dramatic interpretation” on your narrator’s part…

Johann Sebastian Bach, who had just entered his twenties, had recently been appointed organist at St. Boniface’s Church in Arnstadt. Disenchanted with the choir and his St Bonifaceresponsibilities, he applied for a one month leave of absence to visit and study with the great organist/composer, Dieterich Buxtehude in Lübeck.

While it’s fascinating that Bach was so intrigued by Buxtehude that he abandoned work and steady pay to study with him, it’s even more daunting to realize Bach made the journey from Arnstadt to Lübeck (more than 260 miles) on foot… in the winter of 1705. Now that’s what you call suffering for your art!

So enamored was Bach of Buxtehude’s music and technique, he over-stayed his leave by a few months and did not return until February of 1706. Remarkably, he also made the return journey on foot, but this time he was carrying on his back several handwritten manuscript copies he’d made of Buxtehude’s works!

Travel by foot was very common in those days unless you were very wealthy, so it’s likely Johann wouldn’t have stood out from any of the other wanderers looking for food and shelter. So, historians know very little about this entire, life-changing episode in Bach’s life. Perhaps that’s why it has always fascinated me. How many days did his journey take? What route did he use? Where did he sleep? More importantly, what did he eat?!

I like to imagine the young, carefree Johann stopping off in some wayside town. Maybe a charming little village where he was offered lodging for the evening and a simple breakfast by some adorable, matronly hausfrau. And what might this hausfrau have served him for breakfast? According to some food historians, it may have been Brot und Biersuppe (Bread and Beer Soup).

Here follows the Woodwind Gourmet’s take on this very old breakfast specialty that’s been in existence since medieval times. Baking the oaty, mellow homemade bread will make it a cozier meal, but feel free to substitute any hearty bread you might already have on-hand. For the beer, I used a Guinness Extra Stout, but any dark beer or stout that you prefer would work for the soup.

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Bach’s Bread & Biersuppe

Bach’s Bread
Yields 1 loaf

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
IMG_84361 1/4 cups warm milk (100-110-degrees)
2 cups unbleached bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
3 tablespoons honey

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warmed milk. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the remaining ingredients. Pour in the yeast mixture; stir to form a shaggy dough. Knead dough, by hand (10 minutes) or by machine (5-8 minutes) until smooth and elastic. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and allow it to rest for 1 hour until doubled in size. Gently deflate the dough and transfer to a lightly oiled surface.

With your hands, press the dough into a rectangle and then tightly roll into a log, pinching the seams to seal. Place in a lightly greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pan, cover the pan loosely and allow dough to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, just until it’s crested 1″ to 2″ over the rim of the pan.

Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190°F. Allow to cool before slicing. This loaf can be made in advance and freezes well.

Biersuppe
Serves 2

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 clove garlic, minced
IMG_84351/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1 cup dark beer or stout
1 cup chicken or beef stock
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)

In a 2-quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Sauté the shallots and garlic until softened; add the thyme, tarragon, and sage, stir for 30 seconds. Add the beer, stock, and brown sugar; cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a low boil.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and flour. While whisking, slowly pour in about half of the hot beer mixture. Pour the contents of the bowl back into the saucepan and continue cooking until mixture returns to boil and thickens sufficiently. Stir in the mace, pepper, and salt.

To serve, toast slices of bread and generously butter. Place the toast in shallow bowls and ladle soup around toast.

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To accompany your stirring, kneading, whisking, and slurping, here is a signficant collection of Bach’s organ music (The Orgelbüchlein) — most of which was likely composed after his visit with Buxtehude.

Looking for more recipes? Check out the other recent Woodwind Gourmet series:

Series I: Oboes, Oranges & Almonds

Series II: Composers & Coffee

Series III: Notable Breakfasts

Woodwind Gourmet: Tiramisu

IMG_8276“Every morning I have to write, correct, and score till one o’clock, when I go to Scheidel’s coffeehouse in Kaufinger Gasse, where I know each face by heart and find the same people every day in the same position: two playing chess, three looking on, five reading the newspapers, six eating their dinner — with me making up the seventh.” — Felix Mendelssohn from a letter to his family

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) is another example of a brilliant composer who enjoyed his daily coffee. Though renowned for both social and musical conservatism, he was apparently an avid fan of coffeehouses and the ritual of people-watching through the rising steam from his cup. Reading of his life, you get the sense that he might’ve lived longer had he taken time to smell and savor his coffee rather than swilling it down and moving on to the next task. Sadly, he died at the age of 38, grieved and overworked.

Incidentally, Mendelssohn’s great predecessor, Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), was also a fan of coffee. We already know Beethoven was an exacting composer — his scores often demanding musicians push their techniques to the very limits of physical stamina. We also know he personally destroyed a piano or two simply by playing them forcefully. Thus, we owe the modern piano’s improved durability to Beethoven’s pianistic paws Beethovenof fury. But, did you know he insisted each cup of coffee he drank should contain exactly 60 coffee beans? No kidding — he counted them himself!

To test Beethoven’s coffee recipe, I weighed 60 average coffee beans. It turns out Beethoven liked about 6 grams of coffee beans per 4-ounce cup. Though I do drink my coffee in modern, 8-ounce cups, I was excited to discover Beethoven and I may prefer the same coffee-to-water ratio. Unlike Beethoven, however, I use a kitchen scale every morning to ensure I have 12 grams of beans per 8oz cup rather than counting out 120 beans. To those who can’t be bothered to measure their coffee in the morning, I raise a furry Beethoven eyebrow.

The second recipe in our Composers & Coffee series is for the serious coffee enthusiast — the kind of enthusiast who is exacting in their technique to ensure every bean counts and every bean is counted.

Tiramisu
Serves 8

3/4 cup brewed espresso (or double-strong brewed coffee)
3 tablespoons water
2 1/2 tablespoons Kahlúa (coffee liqueur)
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
4 ounces neufchatel cheese (1/3 less fat cream cheese), softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla paste or vanilla extract
24 each ladyfingers
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Combine the espresso, water, Kahlúa, and 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar in a shallow bowl; stir to dissolve sugar, set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the mascarpone cheese, softened neufchatel, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and vanilla paste with a hand-held mixer until smooth (sugar will dissolve when the mixture is thoroughly creamed).

Dip half of the ladyfingers one at a time in the espresso IMG_8324mixture and arrange them so they line the bottom of an 8×8 baking dish (feel free to cut them to fit as needed). Drizzle additional espresso mixture over the ladyfingers so that you have about 1/2 of the mixture remaining. Spread half of the mascarpone mixture evenly over the layer of ladyfingers. Dip remaining ladyfingers in the espresso mixture, placing them atop the mascarpone layer evenly; drizzle remaining espresso mixture over ladyfingers. Spread remaining mascarpone mixture atop ladyfingers. Sprinkle top generously with the cocoa powder.

Cover and chill for about 4 hours before slicing and serving.

The other recipes in the Composers & Coffee series:

Pan-Fried Chicken with Red-Eye Gravy
Irish Coffee