SYMPATHY

Year: 2019

Text: Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)

Duration: Approx. 5’30”

Instrumentation: Voice & Violoncello

PERFORMANCES

*WORLD PREMIERE: January, 2019 by Amber Evans & Issei Herr at the Australia Day Concert, St John’s in the Village, Manhattan, New York, USA.

*Boston Premiere: May, 2019 by Michael Grebla & Jonathan Salman 2019 Commissioning Campaign Fundraiser, Brookline, Boston, USA.

*Louisiana Premiere: November 2019 by Alanna Scott, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA.

*Australian Premiere (Private): December 2019 by Michael Grebla & Miah Smith, St George’s College, Perth, Western Australia, AU.

PROGRAM NOTES

“Sympathy” is a setting of the poem of the same name by Paul Laurence Dunbar. The poem explores the poet’s understanding of how a caged bird feels. He paints vivid pictures and a pained narrative of the bird, acting as a discussion of the effects of deprivation of freedom on the individual – indeed, he was the first child of freed Kentucky slaves. When reading this poem I was struck by the power of the text and this work is very much my musical reading of it. The work maintains the original title and draws heavily on word painting while also sounding the poem’s undertones of tension, despair and desperation.

The duet of voice and cello behaves as a dialogue between the poet and the bird, with the cello assuming the role of the bird. The cello draws its cues from the text for various gestures of the bird including singing and pulsing/beating of wings (translating to a visual beating of bowing arm), as well as its cries of pain, prayers of hope, and so on. In the future, I hope to set more of this poet’s work in the form of a song cycle.

PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR

The commissioning and world premiere of “A Curious Misadventure” at Connecticut Summerfest was made possible by the 2019 Commissioning Campaign. Thank you to all those who supported the campaign.

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"...a testament to the universal strength and endurance of the human spirit..."

Jeffrey Palmer | Cut Cummon Magazine

Friday, 8 February 2019

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AMBER EVANS

Amber Evans is a vocalist, composer and conductor based in New York. Winner of the inaugural Dwight and Ursula Mamlok Advancement Award for Interpreters of Contemporary Music, she premiered over thirty new vocal works and became well-versed in modern contemporary classic works of the last few decades.

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ISSEI HERR

Cellist Issei Herr is committed to a diverse array of music both old and new. A compelling soloist and a dedicated collaborator, Issei performs a scope of repertoire that ranges from the music of Bach, Babbitt, and Berio to Schubert, Schoenberg, and Stravinsky.

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