The Creature (2019) for Baritone and Piano Text by Mary Shelley from her book, Frankenstein Music by Amy Leventhal
Performed by Isaiah Feken, Baritone, and Greg Hankins, Piano, on April 25, 2019
Program Notes: I recently read Mary Shelley's book; Frankenstein and was filled with compassion for the Creature. I thought another title for her book could have been; Who's the Monster? In the age of a racist and vile person filling our presidency of these United States I thought again Who's the Monster? In the case of this piece clearly it is the creator of the Creature. All the Creature wants is to be loved and he is rejected by Dr. Frankenstein, his creator. I want the audience to feel deep compassion for this clearly most human of creatures and, in this age of 2019, to have deep compassion for All Living Beings.
Text from Mary Shelley's Book; Frankenstein organized into four movements called The Creature
1. Birth 2. Rejection 3. Awakening 4. Farewell
1. Birth Dr. Frankenstein: It was on a dreary night that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils. With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony. I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet. I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs.
2. Rejection Dr. Frankenstein: Devil do you dare approach me? And do not you fear the fierce vengeance of my arm wreaked on your miserable head? Begone vile insect! Or rather stay, that I may trample you to dust! And, oh! That I could, with the extinction of your miserable existence, restore those victims whom you so diabolically murdered! The Creature: I expected this reception. All men hate the wretched; how, then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things! Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us. You purpose to kill me. How dare you sport thus with life? Do your duty towards me, and I will do mine towards you and the rest of humankind. If you will comply with my conditions, I will leave them and you at peace: but if you refuse, I will glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood of your remaining friends. Dr. Frankenstein: Begone! I will not hear you. There can be no community between you and me; we are enemies. Relieve me from the sight of your detested form.
3. Awakening The Creature: I felt light, and hunger, and thirst, and darkness. On all sides various scents saluted me. I could distinguish the bright moon.
4. Farewell The Creature: Fear not that I shall be the instrument of future mischief. My work is nearly complete. I shall die. He is dead who called me into being. I shall no longer see the sun or stars or feel the winds play on my cheeks. Farewell Frankenstein!
Twelve Moments of Sanity (2018) for Solo Bassoon
Performed by Ms. Naomi McKinney, Bassoonist on March 22, 2019
List of the Twelve Moments;
Why don’t they take it down?!
What if they did?
Need a break
Paul Robeson’s Father William ( Who was formerly enslaved )
Looking Up at a Large trunk of a Maple Tree and Seeing its Magnififcence
My Belief in Goodness
My Cousin Meredith
Hattie Our Elderly Dog
I began composing Twelve Moments of Sanity during the summer of 2018 for my dear beloved and talented friend, Bassoonist, Patricia Gunter. I have been deeply disturbed by the current government of the United States and this was before they took over two thousand children away from their parents. I think psychologically in some ways this piece was composed with an effort to express my concerns and to comfort myself. The first movement is about a March and the Hate-Free Movement in Decatur, Georgia. My husband and I marched to support the taking down of a Confederate monument next to the old courthouse in Decatur. We marched quite a while ago and it still remains. The first three movements express frustration, tempered hopefulness, and anger. The rest of the movements are fairly self-explanatory. My Cousin Meredith is a deep joy in my life and a big part of my happiness. I have always adored the sound of the bassoon and it is fun to explore its potential. I am very grateful to Naomi McKinney for her Beautiful Performance.
Merman (2018) for Oboe and Piano
Performed by Oboist, Dan Ellis and Pianist, Sonny Yoo on March 22, 2019
I have composed Merman for oboist, Dan Ellis. I thought about all the introverts I know and wanted to convey the majesty of their personalities which lie beneath the surface. I thought of the ocean as a metaphor for all the richness hidden beneath and began imagining Dan as a Merman swimming in a kelp forest. The kelp is represented by the piano chords rising from the deep the way kelp does from its roots to its leafiness above. Dan is portrayed by the oboe swimmimng above the kelp. In the second movement; She Appears; Mourning, a merwoman comes to the merman with her heart full of grief. In the last movement; In Love the couple play beneath the ocean waves. Of course I hope when you listen to this music you will make up your own stories.
Arietha's Songs (2015) Three Songs for Soprano and Piano
Performed by Soprano, Arietha Lockhart, and Pianist, Daniel Solberg in October 2015
Poem: Address to A Child During A Boisterous Winter Evening
BY DOROTHY WORDSWORTH
Poem: George Moses Horton, Myself
BY GEORGE MOSES HORTON
Poem: The Peace of Wild Things
BY WENDELL BERRY
Ms. Arietha Lockhart sang a song cycle I composed called Worlds of Beauty (2012). I became enchanted
with the beauty of her voice. I asked Ms. Lockhart if it would be ok for me to write a song cycle for her.
Happily for me she agreed and this group of three songs is the result. I wrote these songs in Atlanta during the summer of 2015. The heat was up in the nineties with great humidity so contemplating wind and snow was a relief. I had not heard of this poem before and learning Ms.Wordsworth's words was a true joy. I love the way Ms. Wordsworth's poem, Address to A Child During A Boisterous Winter Evening conveys a painting and I enjoyed finding ways to depict wind in sound. George Moses Horton, Myself is a poem about identity and aging. Mr. Horton was a slave who became free during his lifetime. What would have happened had he not been a slave, stayed in Africa, and had the opportunites of Walt Whitman? The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry talks about his night time anxieties and how the natural world calms and soothes his soul. I could relate to his feelings and I too find deep comfort in the beauty of the natural world and with my relationship to all life on our planet.
Texts: Address to A Child During A Boisterous Winter Evening BY DOROTHY WORDSWORTH
What way does the wind come? What way does he go? He rides over the water, and over the snow, Through wood, and through vale; and o’er rocky height, Which the goat cannot climb, takes his sounding flight; He tosses about in every bare tree, As, if you look up, you plainly may see; But how he will come, and whither he goes, There’s never a scholar in England knows. He will suddenly stop in a cunning nook, And ring a sharp ’larum; but, if you should look, There’s nothing to see but a cushion of snow, Round as a pillow, and whiter than milk, And softer than if it were covered with silk. Sometimes he’ll hide in the cave of a rock, Then whistle as shrill as the buzzard cock; — Yet seek him, and what shall you find in the place? Nothing but silence and empty space; Save, in a corner, a heap of dry leaves, That he’s left, for a bed, to beggars or thieves! As soon as ’tis daylight tomorrow, with me You shall go to the orchard, and then you will see That he has been there, and made a great rout, And cracked the branches, and strewn them about; Heaven grant that he spare but that one upright twig That looked up at the sky so proud and big All last summer, as well you know, Studded with apples, a beautiful show! Hark! over the roof he makes a pause, And growls as if he would fix his claws Right in the slates, and with a huge rattle Drive them down, like men in a battle: – But let him range round; he does us no harm, We build up the fire, we’re snug and warm; Untouched by his breath see the candle shines bright, And burns with a clear and steady light. Books have we to read, but that half-stifled knell, Alas! ’tis the sound of the eight o’clock bell. — Come, now we’ll to bed! and when we are there He may work his own will, and what shall we care? He may knock at the door — we’ll not let him in; May drive at the windows — we’ll laugh at his din; Let him seek his own home wherever it be; Here’s a cozie warm house for Edward and me.
George Moses Horton, Myself BY GEORGE MOSES HORTON
I feel myself in need of the inspiring strains of ancient lore, My heart to lift, my empty mind to feed, And all the world explore. I know that I am old And never can recover what is past, But for the future may some light unfold And soar from ages blast. I feel resolved to try, My wish to prove, my calling to pursue, Or mount up from the earth into the sky, To show what Heaven can do. My genius from a boy, Has fluttered like a bird within my heart; But could not thus confined her powers employ, Impatient to depart. She like a restless bird, Would spread her wing, her power to be unfurl’d, And let her songs be loudly heard, And dart from world to world.
The Peace of Wild Things BY WENDELL BERRY
When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Mom and Me (2014) for Solo Cello and Chamber Orchestra
Performed by Cellist, Carol Elliott, and The Columbia Civic Orchestra conducted by Stefan Freund
Program Notes: I was commissioned to compose Mom and Me by Stefan Freund, the conductor, of the Columbia Community Orchestra during the summer of 2014. Carol Elliott, the Principal Cellist of CCO, came up with the idea for me to write a piece; Solo Cello with Orchestra for her. She gave me this wonderful opportunity and I am so very grateful. Carol and I discussed a piece based on the relationship of a mother and child. Vaughan- Williams, Rosanne Cash, and lullabies were discussed. I began to think about my mother and my son. The beginning entitled First Appearance is a tribute to those astounding moments of conception and birth. Out of everything comes life as the orchestra begins together in a rich texture and the cello emerges from the orchestra just as a child comes out from its mother. Later when the cello is in cadenza I thought of the agility of a toddler newly learning its own way of moving. First they are in an embrace then the child becomes busy exploring and returning to Mom for hugs and safety.The slower moving chords are the hugs and the faster moving sixteenth notes are the child's activity. I call that section New Life. Eventually we come to the Lullaby section and I am reminded of rocking my baby son to lots of Brahms.The next section is called Bliss and is a song of peacefulness and happiness. During the middle period when everyone is healthy and growing. The end is called Leaving when the mother's life ends and the child goes on living.
Us: Sunflowers turning towards Each Other ( 2015) for Bassoon and Viola
Performed by Bassoonist, Patricia Gunter and Violist, Amy Leventhal
Program Notes: Us: Sunflowers turning towards Each Other describes my friendship with three women; Amy Dorfman, Pat Gunter, and Stephanie Marlin who live in Nashville, Tennessee. I met each of these women when we were students at Indiana University. They all ended up living in Nashville while I moved to Atlanta.They each have become close friends. Their friendship with me is life sustaining. I wrote this piece for Pat and me to play together. I think of my friends and I as life-filled sunflowers turning towards each other as flowers do, towards the sun, for nourishment. The second movement, Winged Creatures Flying in my garden, is inspired by our gardens and all that moves in them along with wanting to compose a peppy, virtuosic piece. The last movement, Through the Rough finding Comfort, tells of difficult times in life that we all experience as we age and of the deep comfort friendship brings.
A Feather in Her Cap 2014 for Solo Piccolo
Performed by Piccoloist Steven Keith in April 2014
Worlds of Beauty Three Songs for Soprano and Harp
Performed by Soprano, Arietha Lockhart and Harpist, Nella Rigell
Eight Nights of Clarinet 2016 for Solo Clarinet
Performed by Katherine White
Impressions from Japan 2016 for String Orchestra
Performed by Midi