Passage (2008-09)

For Chamber Orchestra and Two Voices. Commissioned and premiered by the Dogs of Desire (with assistance from a grant by the NEA), March 6, 2009 at the Massry Center for the Arts, College of Saint Rose, Albany, NY, David Alan Miller, conductor; Alex Sweeton and Kamala Sankaram, vocalists.

Program notes (from the Premiere):

Composed on commission by the Albany Symphony Orchestra in 2008-09, Passage is eight minutes long and takes as its departure point the true story of Henry Hudson's being cast adrift by mutineers on modern-day Hudson Bay in June, 1611, in a shallop (or dingy) with his young son John and seven others chosen for either their loyalty to Hudson or for their infirmities. The castaways were never again accounted for and the mutineers (those who survived the trip) dodged punishment by gaining the sympathy of the court.

I found a long poem written in 1909 by American poet Henry Van Dyke called "The Shallop on Hudson Bay" (which is part of a larger work called The White Bees ). I drew words and the oft-defiant sentiments freely from this poem to craft my own short libretto which is a sort of dialogue between son and father. I also drew, in the beginning at least, poetically and musically from the famous Schubert song "Der Erlkönig" (Opus 1, on a poem by Goethe), in which a father races his feverish son home on horseback amid the boy's hallucinations of seeing Death (the folkloric Elf King).

In my picture of this languishing and depressing scene upon Hudson Bay, I turned the Goethe account upside down with the son carrying the dying father to nowhere. Hudson is languishing from dementia (perhaps from starvation) and his son is steering the shallop. Resignation claims the end of this short musical work.

It is dedicated to my father, a former orchestra conductor and sailor who was suffering from dementia at the time I wrote it. [Note: He passed away on February 4, 2010]

Program notes for this special internet presentation:

In order to keep this html page from having too much text, I direct you to my blog for the next portion of the story.

Welcome back from my blog. Now you will want to download the libretto (otherwise known as the lyrics) I wrote combing elements of Goethe's poem, "The Erl-King" and Van Dyke's poem "The Shallop on Hudson Bay" and my own words.

Next, if you read music, feel free to download my conductor score. **Know that both downloads are my copyrights and your eyes are as far they can go unless you write me and ask for some other purpose.**

Finally, click the triangle to hear it in the player below (be sure your speakers are on). **The audio is also under copyright and not for use for commercial purposes beyond your hearing it right here.**

This text will be replaced by the flash music player.