Mélomanie rehearsed my new dance suite, The Nobility of Women, Monday night for the first time. More of a read-through, it gave us a chance to get to know the eight dances, lock some tempos in, and identify possible issues. The 20-minute work takes its name from the 1600 dance instruction manual Nobiltà di Dame by Fabritio Caroso.

The name of the book alone captivated me. Although there is no other significant connection between it and my music, I imagined a piece that would grow out of a work with that name. The players in Mélomanie are all skilled in Baroque and new music, and I’ve enjoyed writing for historical instruments in the past. The sound-world is entrancing, and I’ve tried to compose a work that would release the beauties of these fabulous instruments.

It was a lovely first hearing. I sat between Douglas, the cellist, and Tracy and Mark’s Christmas tree, a great way to listen to a rehearsal!

I’m delighted to have the opportunity to write for my daughter Priscilla again, this time on Baroque oboe, a first for me. Listening to her and all these wonderful players has been a joy and an enlightenment. Also a first: writing for Baroque flute, viola da gamba, and harpsichord. Baroque cello and violin I had a go at previously with The Waking Sun, the setting of Seneca which premiered this past summer with The Crossing and Tempesta di Mare.

Oh, the dances: Overture, Allemande, Branle, Musette, Canario, Sarabande, Branle Reprise, Ciaccona. Among the other music on the program is some Telemann Tafelmusik and a work by Mark Hagerty inspired by Steely Dan’s “Babylon Sisters” (Priscilla’s playing modern oboe on that).

I’m looking forward to the performances, which are on January 14th and 15th in Wilmington and Philadelphia. More later as we get deeper into it.