Author Topic: Sinfonia Solenne for Chamber String Orchestra  (Read 10730 times)

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Online k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Sinfonia Solenne for Chamber String Orchestra
« Reply #60 on: September 29, 2021, 05:06:32 AM »
Thank you! Adding a double bass part is a great idea, not as a fifth voice but to double the cellos an octave below... I might consider that.

Yes, a good thought!
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Offline krummholz

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Re: Sinfonia Solenne for Chamber String Orchestra
« Reply #61 on: September 29, 2021, 06:25:56 AM »
Very pleased, and not at all surprised that this piece vs found another enthusiast.

Aww... sweet! Thanks Karl.  :)

Offline classicalgeek

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Re: Sinfonia Solenne for Chamber String Orchestra
« Reply #62 on: September 29, 2021, 08:14:21 AM »
Thank you! Adding a double bass part is a great idea, not as a fifth voice but to double the cellos an octave below... I might consider that. One of the rules I set for myself was no more than four voices , so there won't be any divisi passages... but it's a nice thought, thanks.

Ahh, that makes sense if you were trying to use four voices maximum. Yes, I think double basses would sound great doubling the cellos at the octave in passages where you want more weight and power. It's up to you, of course!

Quote
As far as getting it played by humans, it's being looked at as I write this by a conductor in Australia... I don't have really high hopes though, as the piece has so far gotten a very mixed reception from other composers. Some have really gushed over it, others just don't like it at all. I wouldn't have dared to write anything like this as a student back in the '70s... and even today, a 25-minute piece, solidly rooted in Common Practice era harmony, with limited instrumental and rhythmic resources (all intentional restrictions I set for myself), will probably never be very popular.

But many thanks for listening and for your kind remarks.

I hope it works out! I think it deserves to be heard - it's obvious that you put a lot of work, your "blood, sweat, and tears", so to speak, into it.

Do you have any other compositions in the works? I look forward to your next offering! Thank you for sharing.

Offline amw

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Re: Sinfonia Solenne for Chamber String Orchestra
« Reply #63 on: September 29, 2021, 08:49:12 AM »
the piece has so far gotten a very mixed reception from other composers. Some have really gushed over it, others just don't like it at all. I wouldn't have dared to write anything like this as a student back in the '70s... and even today, a 25-minute piece, solidly rooted in Common Practice era harmony, with limited instrumental and rhythmic resources (all intentional restrictions I set for myself), will probably never be very popular.
I've written a number of pieces like this, not usually as a result of intentional restrictions but mostly because it comes naturally to me whereas the "original" music I'm [more] interested in writing takes much more effort, and can confirm this. Composers are invariably skeptical, unless you're under 18 or at least a music student, at which point it's considered understandable; performers and listeners are also usually uninterested, except—for whatever reason—for conductors, and presenters think any contemporary music (regardless of style) is too much of a financial risk. One's best bet at having such music performed appears to be one of the following: a) amateur and youth orchestras/ensembles; b) being friends with the owner of Toccata Classics. It's also usually possible to get music students at any conservatory to play through and record a common practice-style chamber piece, since they're always in need of money, but they're not usually very enthusiastic.

(I have looked through the score in several iterations, although not listened to the MIDI, but have to say I'm not very good at commenting on the work of other composers in general, so apologies for that; you seem to know what you're doing, keep it up.)

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Re: Sinfonia Solenne for Chamber String Orchestra
« Reply #64 on: September 29, 2021, 09:42:53 AM »
Ahh, that makes sense if you were trying to use four voices maximum. Yes, I think double basses would sound great doubling the cellos at the octave in passages where you want more weight and power. It's up to you, of course!

I think this is a wonderful idea and I plan to implement it, at least as an optional arrangement. The other chamber strings group I have had in mind does not have double basses though, so it will have to be optional.

Quote
I hope it works out! I think it deserves to be heard - it's obvious that you put a lot of work, your "blood, sweat, and tears", so to speak, into it.

Thank you so much! Yes it was a lot of work, though a labour of love too... after a certain point in the writing, it became clear that the piece needed to be written.

Quote
Do you have any other compositions in the works? I look forward to your next offering! Thank you for sharing.

Well I want to write something for the violist who helped me over last winter with notational issues and have a few ideas for a viola sonata, but it will likely be at least next summer before I have the time to write anything new - I have a full teaching schedule both fall and spring terms. If you want to hear something completely different, check out my String Quartet in A Minor, I think on page 3 or so of this forum. It was originally a student work that I started in summer 1975 while studying with Albright at Michigan, but didn't know how to end it at the time, finally took it up again 45 years later! It's in a more expressionistic idiom, in fact it's frankly atonal for much of its length, though it doesn't use any tone rows. One didn't dare write anything traditionally tonal for a composition class back then!

Offline krummholz

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Re: Sinfonia Solenne for Chamber String Orchestra
« Reply #65 on: September 29, 2021, 09:58:50 AM »
I've written a number of pieces like this, not usually as a result of intentional restrictions but mostly because it comes naturally to me whereas the "original" music I'm [more] interested in writing takes much more effort, and can confirm this. Composers are invariably skeptical, unless you're under 18 or at least a music student, at which point it's considered understandable; performers and listeners are also usually uninterested, except—for whatever reason—for conductors, and presenters think any contemporary music (regardless of style) is too much of a financial risk. One's best bet at having such music performed appears to be one of the following: a) amateur and youth orchestras/ensembles; b) being friends with the owner of Toccata Classics. It's also usually possible to get music students at any conservatory to play through and record a common practice-style chamber piece, since they're always in need of money, but they're not usually very enthusiastic.

Thanks for those suggestions. Unfortunately, I'm pretty far from any conservatory, being out in the boonies of Vermont. My only options seem really to be professional ensembles. My main problem, I think, is that I'm totally unknown and thus dependent on introductions by sympathetic friends - it was Karl who got me at least a look-see by the Australian conductor I mentioned. My only "in" with a local, highly renowned chamber orchestra would have been a composer acquaintance who lives a few kms down the road, but unfortunately he's one of the folks who really don't like this piece. He even went through the score and proudly declared that there were some 530 occurrences of the sequence 8th-8th-quarter-quarter in the piece, which he called a "pattern" even though most of them are part of longer phrases - and in any case I was mainly concerned with coherence and relating everything to a few basic motives, and rhythmic variety was never one of my goals in writing this piece. Sigh... still waiting to hear from Australia.

Offline classicalgeek

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Re: Sinfonia Solenne for Chamber String Orchestra
« Reply #66 on: September 29, 2021, 11:54:29 AM »
Well I want to write something for the violist who helped me over last winter with notational issues and have a few ideas for a viola sonata, but it will likely be at least next summer before I have the time to write anything new - I have a full teaching schedule both fall and spring terms. If you want to hear something completely different, check out my String Quartet in A Minor, I think on page 3 or so of this forum. It was originally a student work that I started in summer 1975 while studying with Albright at Michigan, but didn't know how to end it at the time, finally took it up again 45 years later! It's in a more expressionistic idiom, in fact it's frankly atonal for much of its length, though it doesn't use any tone rows. One didn't dare write anything traditionally tonal for a composition class back then!

I'll definitely check out your String Quartet - I've persued the score (and indeed much of it is atonal, even though it begins [D-flat in the cello notwithstanding!] and ends in A minor. I wrote a String Quartet myself, back when I was (I think) 17... but it's highly derivative. I actually entered it into Sibelius and recorded it with NotePerformer; it kind of sounds like faux-Mendelssohn - it probably could have been written in 1840! Definitely anachronistic for 1992 - but I can share it as a curiosity!

I actually applied to U of Michigan for my Master's - I was interested in studying with William Bolcom. But it was a tumultuous time in my life; I ended up skipping my GRE's and my interview, and I ultimately didn't get accepted. I often look back on this period and wonder what might have been!

And I definitely hear you on not writing tonal music for composition classes! Even in the '90s at Oberlin, composing anything remotely suggesting a tonal center was sacrilege! Of course, I wrote tonal and tonal-adjacent music anyway; the rest of the composition department kind of looked down on it. Not with scorn or derision; I just think they saw me as naive and inexperienced. I know back in the '60s and '70s, twelve-tone music was all the rage in academia; at Oberlin, while I was there, it wasn't so much dodecaphonism, but everyone else was writing 'edgier' music: tone clusters, microtones, aleatoric music, multimedia presentations with tape and computers. I just wanted to write melodies, and to develop my own basically tonal style! And even though I've written almost nothing since 1998, that's still my number one goal.

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Re: Sinfonia Solenne for Chamber String Orchestra
« Reply #67 on: September 29, 2021, 12:00:45 PM »
Hi, perhaps I missed it...or maybe you didn't say who the conductor in Australia was, but I wish you all the best!

PD

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Re: Sinfonia Solenne for Chamber String Orchestra
« Reply #68 on: September 29, 2021, 12:17:03 PM »
My only "in" with a local, highly renowned chamber orchestra would have been a composer acquaintance who lives a few kms down the road, but unfortunately he's one of the folks who really don't like this piece. He even went through the score and proudly declared that there were some 530 occurrences of the sequence 8th-8th-quarter-quarter in the piece, which he called a "pattern"

This, frankly, baffles me. It did not get anywhere near registering with my ear as a possible "fault," — though even more baffling is that he should expend the effort to make such a tally. No knowing, no knowing.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
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Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline krummholz

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Re: Sinfonia Solenne for Chamber String Orchestra
« Reply #69 on: September 29, 2021, 07:24:41 PM »
This, frankly, baffles me. It did not get anywhere near registering with my ear as a possible "fault," — though even more baffling is that he should expend the effort to make such a tally. No knowing, no knowing.

Frankly, I think his real problem with the piece was the common practice harmony. He did say at one point on Facebook that he had always been impatient with that sort of thing and didn't listen much to anything written before 1950. When I read that I decided I wouldn't ask him again for his comments on the piece, but when I posted an update later he asked for the score, so when I revised it again I asked him if he was interested in the new version. My mistake, won't happen again...

Offline krummholz

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Re: Sinfonia Solenne for Chamber String Orchestra
« Reply #70 on: September 30, 2021, 02:52:43 AM »
Hi, perhaps I missed it...or maybe you didn't say who the conductor in Australia was, but I wish you all the best!

PD

You didn't miss it - I haven't said, and I think I'll keep that under wraps until and unless he accepts my piece. And thanks!

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Re: Sinfonia Solenne for Chamber String Orchestra
« Reply #71 on: September 30, 2021, 11:47:31 AM »
I actually applied to U of Michigan for my Master's - I was interested in studying with William Bolcom. But it was a tumultuous time in my life; I ended up skipping my GRE's and my interview, and I ultimately didn't get accepted. I often look back on this period and wonder what might have been!

Ah, but have you enjoyed your life even so? And it's not too late, of course, to write the works that you would otherwise have written back then... maybe they'll even be better works than they would have been, with the benefit of your years of experience... not necessarily musical experience, but even just LIFE experience!

I have to say, though, that Bolcom was a pretty cool guy, and I enjoyed studying with him for the most part, even though most of the time I was his student I was going through a fallow period where I found it extremely difficult to put ideas down on paper. I think in some ways I enjoyed Albright a little more. He was very encouraging, gave me some sharp criticism when I deserved it, and overall let me shape my piece as I saw fit. My other teachers at Michigan I had very little use for - especially George Wilson who once told me that "the pitches don't matter" when I asked him for some help with ear training. (Well, that's not entirely true, my first theory professor, Wallace Berry, was a real sweetheart! And sharp as a tack...)

And of course, I gave up composing too, actually around 1980. I was too busy learning physics, and learning it thoroughly and well. I can't say I regret doing that, only that I wish I had discovered notation software about a decade earlier than I did, in late December 2019.

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Re: Sinfonia Solenne for Chamber String Orchestra
« Reply #72 on: September 30, 2021, 11:55:47 AM »
Ahh, that makes sense if you were trying to use four voices maximum. Yes, I think double basses would sound great doubling the cellos at the octave in passages where you want more weight and power. It's up to you, of course!

Well okay, I really didn't have the time to do it, but I did it anyway... added a double bass part that's used VERY sparingly and doubles the cellos more often in unison than an octave lower. In unison, it just reinforces the cello line, but in a few passages where it goes into the lower octave, the effect is of brief growlings from the deep. And the very end of the Coda, of course, goes down ultimately to C1, though I never let the dynamic get above forte. I don't know that I'll keep this version - in any case, double bass players would hate me as they'd have so little to do!

If anyone's curious, the NotePerformer rendering and the score are linked below...

Rendering:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AVl77z08AyB8acbySBO8EjW9GDTHkfvh/view?usp=sharing

Score:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1EoEr1PR2dbl7pxDtGgbBc0SGcBCKTaCe/view?usp=sharing

Offline classicalgeek

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Re: Sinfonia Solenne for Chamber String Orchestra
« Reply #73 on: September 30, 2021, 12:45:21 PM »
Well okay, I really didn't have the time to do it, but I did it anyway... added a double bass part that's used VERY sparingly and doubles the cellos more often in unison than an octave lower. In unison, it just reinforces the cello line, but in a few passages where it goes into the lower octave, the effect is of brief growlings from the deep. And the very end of the Coda, of course, goes down ultimately to C1, though I never let the dynamic get above forte. I don't know that I'll keep this version - in any case, double bass players would hate me as they'd have so little to do!

If anyone's curious, the NotePerformer rendering and the score are linked below...

Rendering:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AVl77z08AyB8acbySBO8EjW9GDTHkfvh/view?usp=sharing

Score:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1EoEr1PR2dbl7pxDtGgbBc0SGcBCKTaCe/view?usp=sharing

Listening to your revised version now!

Offline classicalgeek

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Re: Sinfonia Solenne for Chamber String Orchestra
« Reply #74 on: September 30, 2021, 01:35:37 PM »
Well okay, I really didn't have the time to do it, but I did it anyway... added a double bass part that's used VERY sparingly and doubles the cellos more often in unison than an octave lower. In unison, it just reinforces the cello line, but in a few passages where it goes into the lower octave, the effect is of brief growlings from the deep. And the very end of the Coda, of course, goes down ultimately to C1, though I never let the dynamic get above forte. I don't know that I'll keep this version - in any case, double bass players would hate me as they'd have so little to do!

If anyone's curious, the NotePerformer rendering and the score are linked below...

Rendering:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AVl77z08AyB8acbySBO8EjW9GDTHkfvh/view?usp=sharing

Score:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1EoEr1PR2dbl7pxDtGgbBc0SGcBCKTaCe/view?usp=sharing

I confess, I really like the new version! I like the sparing way you use the basses, and the final chord really sounds great. There was one passage I thought could benefit from their presence: from the second beat of m. 527 through m. 530, if they came in an octave below the cellos, they would lend their weight to the pianississimo chord. But that's entirely up to you! All in all, excellent work!

Offline classicalgeek

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Re: Sinfonia Solenne for Chamber String Orchestra
« Reply #75 on: September 30, 2021, 03:49:08 PM »
Ah, but have you enjoyed your life even so? And it's not too late, of course, to write the works that you would otherwise have written back then... maybe they'll even be better works than they would have been, with the benefit of your years of experience... not necessarily musical experience, but even just LIFE experience!

I have to say, though, that Bolcom was a pretty cool guy, and I enjoyed studying with him for the most part, even though most of the time I was his student I was going through a fallow period where I found it extremely difficult to put ideas down on paper. I think in some ways I enjoyed Albright a little more. He was very encouraging, gave me some sharp criticism when I deserved it, and overall let me shape my piece as I saw fit. My other teachers at Michigan I had very little use for - especially George Wilson who once told me that "the pitches don't matter" when I asked him for some help with ear training. (Well, that's not entirely true, my first theory professor, Wallace Berry, was a real sweetheart! And sharp as a tack...)

And of course, I gave up composing too, actually around 1980. I was too busy learning physics, and learning it thoroughly and well. I can't say I regret doing that, only that I wish I had discovered notation software about a decade earlier than I did, in late December 2019.

Well, my life has been a mixed bag! I made some rash and not-well-thought-out decisions when I was younger... including giving up pursuing music. I'm stuck in a job I really don't like (software test engineer) just to pay the bills. But I've realized after 20-plus years that I need to have music in my life, and that includes writing. I had a stroke in late 2019 which kind of put things in perspective, and made me reconsider the things that were important to me! I'm still struggling to create new works, but I think I need to proceed more slowly - my brain is full of symphonies and other large-scale works, but perhaps I need to write some piano pieces and shorter chamber works first. Walk before I try to run, so to speak. I think, as you say, I have a lot of life experience to bring to the table - I just have to get comfortable composing again. I truly believe it will come.

How interesting that you studied with both Albright and Bolcom! I think they were both still at Michigan when I applied in 1997, though Albright passed away not long after. And good to know they were both good guys - it makes all the difference. I studied with two different teachers at Oberlin - one was Richard Hoffmann; he just passed away recently. Hoffmann was Arnold Schoenberg's assistant toward the end of his life, so he would spend most of our lesson time telling these elaborate stories. Although he was a really neat guy, he really didn't help me grow as a composer. My second teacher was a young guy (as in barely 30) who made it known he really didn't like my style, and repeatedly tried to get me to write in a more 'avant-garde' idiom. So he wasn't really helpful either.

And how could an actual musician say "pitches don't matter"? That boggles the mind!
« Last Edit: September 30, 2021, 03:51:18 PM by classicalgeek »

Offline krummholz

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Re: Sinfonia Solenne for Chamber String Orchestra
« Reply #76 on: September 30, 2021, 03:54:05 PM »
I confess, I really like the new version! I like the sparing way you use the basses, and the final chord really sounds great. There was one passage I thought could benefit from their presence: from the second beat of m. 527 through m. 530, if they came in an octave below the cellos, they would lend their weight to the pianississimo chord. But that's entirely up to you! All in all, excellent work!

Thank you! I think I needed someone to push me into doing that, as I had decided against it for a rather silly reason, namely that I'd been using the basses so consistently at major cadences that to use them again here would seem, well, almost cliche. But it really does help here, I agree. I spliced in just the new material (letter X to letter Y, starting at about 13:40) to the previous rendering (new file below). Revised score too (only that one tiny change)...

And thanks again for listening!!

Rendering:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1H52yw02ZAd-VeDHlVRpPmAIpFZAeS2Hr/view?usp=sharing

Score:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1SBlfYefvNmjlNl0EYVG1srwQVcBLpgi0/view?usp=sharing

Online k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Sinfonia Solenne for Chamber String Orchestra
« Reply #77 on: September 30, 2021, 04:43:21 PM »
Thank you! I think I needed someone to push me into doing that, as I had decided against it for a rather silly reason, namely that I'd been using the basses so consistently at major cadences that to use them again here would seem, well, almost cliche. But it really does help here, I agree. I spliced in just the new material (letter X to letter Y, starting at about 13:40) to the previous rendering (new file below). Revised score too (only that one tiny change)...

And thanks again for listening!!

Rendering:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1H52yw02ZAd-VeDHlVRpPmAIpFZAeS2Hr/view?usp=sharing

Score:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1SBlfYefvNmjlNl0EYVG1srwQVcBLpgi0/view?usp=sharing

Will listen anew tomorrow!
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: Sinfonia Solenne for Chamber String Orchestra
« Reply #78 on: October 01, 2021, 05:27:28 AM »
Ah, but have you enjoyed your life even so? And it's not too late, of course, to write the works that you would otherwise have written back then... maybe they'll even be better works than they would have been, with the benefit of your years of experience... not necessarily musical experience, but even just LIFE experience!

I have to say, though, that Bolcom was a pretty cool guy, and I enjoyed studying with him for the most part, even though most of the time I was his student I was going through a fallow period where I found it extremely difficult to put ideas down on paper. I think in some ways I enjoyed Albright a little more. He was very encouraging, gave me some sharp criticism when I deserved it, and overall let me shape my piece as I saw fit. My other teachers at Michigan I had very little use for - especially George Wilson who once told me that "the pitches don't matter" when I asked him for some help with ear training. (Well, that's not entirely true, my first theory professor, Wallace Berry, was a real sweetheart! And sharp as a tack...)

And of course, I gave up composing too, actually around 1980. I was too busy learning physics, and learning it thoroughly and well. I can't say I regret doing that, only that I wish I had discovered notation software about a decade earlier than I did, in late December 2019.
Sounds like you have already lived quite an interesting and varied life!  Good for you!

PD

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Re: Sinfonia Solenne for Chamber String Orchestra
« Reply #79 on: October 01, 2021, 05:29:22 AM »
I'll definitely check out your String Quartet - I've persued the score (and indeed much of it is atonal, even though it begins [D-flat in the cello notwithstanding!] and ends in A minor. I wrote a String Quartet myself, back when I was (I think) 17... but it's highly derivative. I actually entered it into Sibelius and recorded it with NotePerformer; it kind of sounds like faux-Mendelssohn - it probably could have been written in 1840! Definitely anachronistic for 1992 - but I can share it as a curiosity!

I actually applied to U of Michigan for my Master's - I was interested in studying with William Bolcom. But it was a tumultuous time in my life; I ended up skipping my GRE's and my interview, and I ultimately didn't get accepted. I often look back on this period and wonder what might have been!

And I definitely hear you on not writing tonal music for composition classes! Even in the '90s at Oberlin, composing anything remotely suggesting a tonal center was sacrilege! Of course, I wrote tonal and tonal-adjacent music anyway; the rest of the composition department kind of looked down on it. Not with scorn or derision; I just think they saw me as naive and inexperienced. I know back in the '60s and '70s, twelve-tone music was all the rage in academia; at Oberlin, while I was there, it wasn't so much dodecaphonism, but everyone else was writing 'edgier' music: tone clusters, microtones, aleatoric music, multimedia presentations with tape and computers. I just wanted to write melodies, and to develop my own basically tonal style! And even though I've written almost nothing since 1998, that's still my number one goal.
Go for it CG!  You never know unless you try.   :)

PD

p.s.  I'm trying very hard not to address you as Cookie Monster--very hard not to considering your current avatar!  :D