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A Scream Grows in Brooklyn

It seems somehow fitting after a week of inexplicable madness that Julia Wolfe’s My Beautiful Scream will get its New York premiere tomorrow night when the Kronos Quartet joins the Brooklyn Philharmonic for a concert called Kronos+Cosmos. 

Wolfe describes My Beautiful Scream as a kind of  non-concerto for string quartet. The work is a gradual unfolding and unraveling of a slow motion scream: the quartet aspect of the music is quiet and fine while the orchestra aspect is violent and menacing. Co-commissioned by the Orchestre Philharmoniue de Radio France, the Basel Sinfonietta, and the Brooklyn Philharmonic, My Beautiful Scream was originally premiered in February 2004 at Festival Presence in Paris.

Wolfe began writing My Beautiful Scream shortly after 9/11. As she describes the time in which the piece was written: “I lived in downtown Manhattan not far from where the towers stood. At night I would have this strange sensation that I was going to die. In general my life was very beautiful, so it was this strange existence of living in beauty and having the sensation of a long drawn out internal scream.”

The concert will also include a performance of the visionary symphonic work, Gustav Holst’s The Planets, and Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. Each of the seven movements of The Planets will be accompanied by exclusive film footage provided by NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Here’s a bit of good news for a change.   Our regular Rob Deemer has accepted an offer from SUNY-Fredonia for its tenure-track composition chair position starting in the Fall of 2007. 


Comment from T.D. Lake
Time: April 20, 2007, 9:37 pm

Maybe I’m being obtuse and off-color, but I wonder why she didn’t orchestrate the scream for the string quartet and the quiet and fine music for Orchestra? Then the Orchestra wouldn’t overpower the string quartet, and the string quartet would sound like “internal scream” and the orchestra like “external beauty.” Of course, she’s the composer not me, I just think it’s kind of odd.

Great to see a female composer in the limelight by the way. I’ll have to pick up a recording of this piece when it comes out.

Comment from Evan
Time: April 21, 2007, 10:00 am

wonder why she didn’t orchestrate the scream for the string quartet and the quiet and fine music for Orchestra?

That would be a little predictable, wouldn’t it, as a fundamental idea? and the contrast this way is exponentially more striking. Not that I’ve heard the piece, of course, obviously.

and congrats on the job, Rob – enjoy the weather up there :)

Comment from Rob Deemer
Time: April 22, 2007, 11:01 pm

Thanks, Evan – I’m originally from outside of Chicago, so I’m ready for the snow. I’ll do my best to be the antithesis of the “academic composer” we all dread…I actually mentioned Sequenza21 and NewMusicBox during my studio presentation on the future of the industry, so the students know where I’m coming from. Now I’ll be close enough to possibly even attend some of these concerts y’all have been chattin’ about in NYC :-)