Fall 2017 Concert Program
October 20, 2017 @ 8 PM

A Cantata for Coleridge, compiled by Ann C. Colley, Visiting Fellow at Wolfson College, University of Cambridge and SUNY Distinguished Professor.

A Cantata for Coleridge, originates in my recent research on Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s descriptions of landscape. As a young man, this eminent early nineteenth-century British writer took rough, difficult walks, sometimes traveling more than thirty miles a day. Oppressed by personal problems as well as his addiction to opium, Coleridge found sustenance in the topography of rivers, meadows, mountains, and the skies. When he hiked and climbed in Wales, the Lake District, and in Scotland, his practice was to carry a notebook and on the spot describe what he saw. Often he also hurriedly sketched line drawings to capture the contours of the landscape. [I have attached to the email some of these line drawings] The resulting Cantata for Coleridge celebrates Coleridge’s beautiful way with words as well as his sensitivity to the nuances of light and movement in the natural world. Using passages from Coleridge’s notebooks, the piece combines a narrator and a singer who will voice passages from the notebooks. Images of Coleridge’s line drawings will be shown on a screen behind the performers.

Ann C. Colley was born in England during the second world war. After living the first eight years of her life in a community near Manchester, UK, she left her home to attend a boarding school in Highgate (North of London). Down the hill from her school was the house in which Samuel Taylor Coleridge had lived during the last decades of his life and where he had been looked after by a doctor who regulated Coleridge's intake of opium.

In 1953, Ann with her parents emigrated to America where she has lived every since. After receiving her Ph. D. in literature from the University of Chicago, Ann has spent her life teaching at universities. She is now a recently retired SUNY Distinguished Professor. From January to July of this year, Ann was a Visiting Fellow at Wolfson College University of Cambridge where she spent her time researching a project on Coleridge's notebooks.

Composer Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon: A couple of years ago, I composed a very brief “postcard” for violin in response to Hanna Hurwitz’s performance of selections from Signs, Games and Messages, by Kurtág. This little postcard later became the musical kernel for Ineffable, a work for solo flute commissioned by the National Flute Association for its Young Artist Competition. In addition to providing musical ideas for the piece, that initial postcard became the coda of Ineffable. Since I intended to eventually integrate Ineffable into Songtree, a large vocal cycle for soprano and ensemble, I turned at that point to Sonnet XVII by William Shakespeare to select four lines for the flute to “sing”:
 If I could write the beauty of your eyes,
And in fresh numbers number all your graces,
The age to come would say, 'This poet lies,
Such heavenly touches ne'er touch'd earthly faces.”

In addition to being moved by the inherent beauty and tenderness of these lines, I was touched by their depiction of the plight of the artist, who attempts to express the depths of life experiences, despite recognizing that art can not truly encode them. Similarly, in Ineffable I tried to convey the poetry of Shakespeare, even if the flute could not speak his words, but only reflect on them with sound.

This summer, Hanna Hurwitz approached me with the idea of performing Ineffable on the violin. I was intrigued by the possibility of going full-circle back to that instrument. We found that the work transferred very well for the violin, and I was delighted with the wonderful expressive perspective that she brought to the work. The present version is a result of our collaboration. Ineffable is extremely challenging for the flute, and truly a virtuosic work for the violin. 

On 13 January 1977, Howard Skempton interviewed Morton Feldman in London. A transcript of the interview can be found here. The main subject of the interview was Feldman's opera, "Neither", which he was completing at the time. At various times during the interview, Feldman sang fragments from the score of the opera to illustrate points he was making. Whilst transcribing the interview, Chris Villars conceived the idea of using the sung fragments as the soundtrack for a short film which would memorialise and, through the addition of a visual element, complement these unique moments. To this end, he collaborated with Zahra Partovi to create "Feldman Sings

Seek Water by Zahra Partovi Poetry of J.M. Rumi Soprano Vocalise Tiffany DuMouchelle Bells Steve Solook Bilingual Spoken Words Recording Vincent FitzGerald & Zahra Partovi Seek Water is dedicated to Nils Vigeland New York 2017 * A song of aspiration and searching, “Seek Water” manifests a major force of human existence. The text of Seek Water is excerpted from “Letters” 1986, published by Vincent FitzGerald & Company.

Whatever state you are in, always seek, Seek water, you with the dry lips,
For your dry lips give evidence that At the end you will reach the fountain.
This search is like a messenger,calling out Crying out…Dawn is imminent!
Whoever is searching, become his friend Throw your head at his feet.
For in the company of those who desire, you will know desire And in the shadow of conquerors, you will become a conqueror.
If an ant is searching for Solomon Do not look with contempt upon its search. All you have of wealth and skill Wasn’t it only a thought and search in the beginning?













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Irene Haupt, Photographer

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