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Notes for the Concert

Over the next few weeks you’re going to be hearing a lot from the composers on the upcoming Sequenza21 concert. We’re all pretty chatty around here, and these posts are going to be one of our little publicity stunts. Here’s a sample of the sort of thing you might be seeing.

Piece: Pause Button Excerpt

Composer: David Salvage

Performer: Thomas Meglioranza

Poet: Kevin Davies

About two years ago I was looking for a text for a song-cycle for baritone and piano. Having set Christina Rossetti and Rupert Brooke, I felt obliged to find a contemporary poet. I found much poetry that I liked and even began some settings of Yosef Komunyakaa. But nothing felt right. Then a friend of mine mentioned a poet whom I had never heard of: Kevin Davies. I rummaged around online (Davies being too obscure for most bookstores) and came upon his volume “Pause Button.” After reading about two pages, I knew that, even though I didn’t know what he was talking about, there was music here.

After much deliberation, and gaining permission from Kevin (a new music fan, by the way), I decided on a passage from the book’s second half and began to write. Early sketches resembled Berg, with a thick, chromatic piano part and the voice assuming an integral – rather than dominant – role. But as I pressed forward, the feeling that I was just writing dumb notes began to bother me. So I started paring down the piano part until, one day, after having listened to György Kurtág’s “Hölderlin Gesänge,” I decided to chuck the piano part altogether and a write a solo.

Two years later “Pause Button Excerpt” is seeing the light of day. And what a day it’s seeing. Last winter, completely out of the blue, baritone Thomas Meglioranza e-mailed me having read about the piece on my Sequenza21 Wiki page. He was looking for solo baritone music and wanted a copy. Tom won last year’s Naumburg competition and is not only a stupendously gifted singer, but a real Mensch as well. Go to his website, and you’ll learn that the best way for anyone to chalk up frequent flyer miles is to attend his performances. (There are lots of them, and they’re all over the place.)

It’s a thrill to dwell here on the musical side of this concert. Being the point man on this thing mostly means figuring out how to get the marimba in the building and making sure we have access to all the electronic equipment the (other) composers require. Preparations, in all honesty, are going shockingly well. Just gotta keep certain committee members from killing each other. But folks, this is going to be awesome.

P.S. But can our concert possibly be as awesome as this apple pie?

Comments

Comment from Lanier Sammons
Time: October 17, 2006, 11:28 am

David,
Sounds wonderful. And I’m a fan of the form the publicity stunts are taking – it’ll be great to have some substantial background to whet my appetite before the concert.