BENNINGTON -- "And it has nothing to do with Obama?"
Rolando Gori laughs and repeats my line: "And it has nothing to do with Obama. But maybe I'll change that in the future."
The near future is tomorrow -- 4 o'clock Sunday, May 17, 2015 -- when Rolando sits back and watches the world premiere of his first symphony "XLIV" at Bennington College.
The Rome-born Toronto-raised Gothamite composed XLIV to complement Beethoven's 3rd (with heavy doses from another hero, Britten) and the "musically autobiographical" work features 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 3 French horns, 2 trumpets, 2 percussions and strings galore (double bass, violin, viola, cello).
Michael Finckel's Sage City Symphony will perform the 32-minute work.
Rolando titled XLIV to represent his age, 44.
Finckel commissioned him to write the piece a few years ago.
"My daughter and his daughter are in the same class in New York."
The dads got to talking music and symphonies.
"He said, Let me hear a few pieces and he liked what he heard and said, Let's see if we can get you to commission a symphony."
Before these details emerged in a chat at Fiddlehead's counter, Rolando agreed to my request to play the gallery's 1936 Story & Clark piano. He beckoned his musical wife Heidi Siegell down from the mezzanine and they performed "Morning Love Song".
They co-wrote it "for friends who got married as a wedding gift," Rolando said. "It was a gift because we're all musicians and broke." He laughed again.
XLIV features 5 movements full of speed and emotion. The second and fourth movements are expansive, Rolando said, and the first, third, and fifth quicker. If you're wondering if he's nervous or scared about watching his first baby take flight ... not really.
"I'm 44, man. Everything is all right. I'm just going to sit back and enjoy the show."
And who knows, maybe the other "44" will catch wind of and enjoy his version of XLIV.
In the distant future, of course.
HEIDI SIEGELL MEANWHILE is a singer-songwriter whose album "In Stillness: Lullabies and Meditations for All Ages" (here) has won several awards.
In Stillness, she said, helps people sleep or helps anybody quiet down. It was inspired by the lullabies she'd write and sing for Oceáne.
Here's the video for the title track: