Siskind

soprano (with hand-held percussion), viola  (2007)  9′, three movements

lyrics by Denise Levertov, May Swenson, E.E. Cummings

published by Sweet Child Music

  • commissioned by Jill Pearon and Shelly Tramposh

Lingua Corporea was commissioned for a recital consisting solely of duets for soprano and viola.  When I was approached with the idea for the commission, I had no idea that a number of pieces exist for that combination.  At first, I was somewhat hesitant to take on the project, mainly because I had concerns that the soprano/viola duo would sound too thin and spare to be effective.

However, the commissioners proposed that they would also commission visual artists to create videos, slides, and sculptures to accompany the pieces, and present the recital in a theatrical setting rather than a concert hall.  This piqued my interest in the project, and I began looking for poems that would work well to be set to music with visual projections.

I soon settled on three poems about the body; or, more precisely, about separating oneself from the body.  This sense of detachment seemed to suit the idea of music with visual imagery, as well as reflecting the spare quality of the soprano/viola duet.  The idea of adding hand-held percussion was suggested by the soprano; this not only helps to fill up the texture, but also reflects and reinforces the corporeal visual imagery.

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