Composers Lustig and berry provide notes
Leila Lustig offers notes of her works being performed
American poet Kendra Kopelke’s “Introductory Remarks” captures with wry humour the monumental insecurity of both students and professor as the first day of class begins, and the music follows her lead with its jazzy, offhand style.
“Widows of Cornwall” and “Adios, Pancho” are parts of my song cycle “A Bone in the Fish,” based on poems by Barbara Holender. I met Barbara in Buffalo, NY, and we collaborated over many years. “Widows” plays on the Dies Irae of the Latin Mass for the Dead, while “Adios, Pancho” is a send-up of an imagined former lover. I premiered the song cycle in Ontario at Brock University, while working there.
“Job’s Wife” comes from Barbara’s collection “Ladies of Genesis.” I have set all 25 of the poems for varying combinations of voice and instruments. As for Job’s wife, imagine how you would feel if you were in her shoes, watching him suffer for no good reason! The song was premiered at an Erato concert in Vancouver.
I wrote “The Soundtrack From...” for Erik to perform at the Victoria Conservatory’s 2012 Canadian Music Month. The “soundtrack” starts as a funeral march, but soon breaks down into something quite disrespectful. It’s up to you, the listener, to imagine the movie this soundtrack accompanies.
“Eve to Adam” is my setting of words by John Milton, premiered in 2013 by Heather Pawsey and AK Coope, in Vancouver. Because it’s a love song, I let the singer rhapsodize on certain words, extending them in various ways. The clarinet also has some things of its own to say in this playful duet.
When I was a coach-accompanist at the University of Texas in Austin, a voice student asked me to set Walt Whitman’s poem “Tears” to music. She and I both found his stark, almost frightening imagery very compelling. I accompanied her first performance of the piece.
“Me and That Boy from the Black Crow Reserve” is based on words by Heather Simeney-McLeod, a Metis writer at the University of Alberta, whose poems come at things in a way that appeals specially to me. I have set several of them to music. I hope no one will accuse me of “cultural appropriation” for writing flute music inspired by Blackfoot flute style, to which the hand drum seemed a logical accompaniment. The piece was premiered at an Erato concert in 2016.
Long-time friend Nash Noble, a mezzo-soprano with whom I often sang duets, sent me her lovely little poem, “I Believe in Unicorns,” a couple of years ago. With her permission, I set it to music; and she liked it well enough to pass it on to a fellow singer who performed it in Jackson, Mississippi.
Marnie first sang “Drei Rosen,” a group of three songs on poems by Rainer Maria Rilke, at the 2012 concert “Here on the Edge” in Victoria. Each of Rilke’s poems is about roses, and they all share that mysterious, shadowy quality so often characteristic of his words, which I have tried to capture in the music.
Cornelia Hornosty, who died in 2011, was a close friend in Victoria who shared her poetry with me over more than a decade. In 1998, I set four of her poems in the cycle “Hues and Cries.” Two of those songs, “Signal” and “Amid the Pointy Green,” appear on this program.
I composed “Hymne du Printemps” on Paul Valery’s poetry for Marnie and Diane to perform on their “Syrious Music” program in 2016. The music tries to echo the poem’s images: the “thundering tenderness” of spring breaking through the ice, trees in new leaf swinging under their heavy manes, a floating forest, “Death hidden under the grass.”
“Afternoon of a Fan,” on words by Brock University professor Terrance Cox, is one of two songs I wrote in 1990 for a festival of Canadian music at the university. I sang it then as a member of the Trio Con Brio. In the poem, two fathers share a beer or two in the back yard while comparing the grace and muscle tone of young would-be ballerinas with those of footballers, hockey and soccer players.
I composed “I Shall Miss the Sea” for Marnie and Diane to perform at the concert “Land, Sea and Sky” here in Victoria, in honour of Earth Day 2014. The words I wrote express my own love of the sea, and lament its ongoing destruction by thoughtless humans. At one point, the flute performs what’s known as a “tongue ram,” echoed by the singer on her lowest possible pitch, representing the Earth’s “giant, beating heart.”
I made up the words to “Revelation on Public Transit” while riding the bus one day here in Victoria. I guess you could say it’s a feminist manifesto of a sort. It was premiered in 2016 in Philadelphia and Toronto.
Diane Berry offers notes of her works being performed
A Cabinet of Curiosities
A 'cabinet of curiosities' was in fact a room filled with a collection of rare and interesting artifacts. These collections were usually eclectic and esoteric, and were the forerunners of our modern day museums. These five short pieces reflect what might have been found in one such collection.
These are moths and butterflies, often collected for their variety and beauty. They were also accessible if one was patient enough. This piece tries to capture their flight, and their moments of stillness.
One can imagine a collection of bones, found over a lifetime of travel and collecting. They would be all kinds of shapes and sizes, from different dinosaurs, sometimes with no idea what that animal would look like. Think of them all rattling around in a drawer.
Loved for their diversity of colour and size, combined with the study of the birds they came from make them a collectable item. They are delicate and a little fragile, perhaps fading over time. You can hear them waft gently to the ground.
Stuffed rare animals were common in these collections, though a Dodo may have been rare. There is one in the British museum and when writing this collection I just couldn't resist. Listen for the Dodo's curious look and the shake of its tale.
Interesting rocks and beautiful gems would have been found in almost every collection. This piece reflects their subtle beauty, the change of colour, shading and hue with the different angle of light.