Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Announcing the Premier of a Choral Work

Sanford Dole Ensemble presents:

"All New - All Local"

Saturday, February 4, 2012 at 8:00pm
San Francisco Conservatory Recital Hall
50 Oak St., San Francisco
Featuring four new works by Bay Area composers, receiving their local premieres:
David Conte: The Nine Muses with text by John Sterling Walker
Peter Scott Lewis: The Changing Light sets three poems about the light in California by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Michael Kaulkin: Waiting... sets various poetry by Elisabeth Eliassen
Sanford Dole: Gertrude and Alice songs from a work in progress about the lives of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas with text by Brad Erickson

All of the works on this program employ various combinations of chorus, strings, piano and percussion.

Tickets available at the  Sanford Dole Ensemble web site and also at the door.

You might notice that one of these works is a setting of "various poetry by" me! So, I thought I might take a moment here to talk a little about that, as well as to invite you to come, if you live in the San Francisco area.

First of all, I have to say that I am absolutely thrilled to be involved in this concert as a performer. I am really enjoying the sonic thematic material that is embroidered throughout the piece, and I can't wait to hit the stage with my colleagues at its premier. 

So, here is a little background. Two years ago, I was introduced to Michael Kaulkin at concert of the Bay Area Choral Guild, by Sanford Dole is the group's Artistic Director. He is also the founder and Artistic Director of the Sanford Dole Ensemble, whose mission is to present contemporary music written for voices and instruments. Sanford had set one of my poems as a movement in his fabulous work called "Fabric of Peace", a commission for the 50th Anniversary of the Oakland Symphony Chorus, and I was in attendance at this BACG presentation, hearing the piece again for the first time.

As he introduced me to Michael, Sanford mentioned that he was interested in having Michael create a piece for the Sanford Dole Ensemble. The introduction led from exchanging business cards to exchanging emails, and now, two years later, there is this piece of music! I have to say that I really enjoy that my work moves beyond me into the world to find new life through the vision of others.

To find out more about Michael, please see his website, where you can hear excerpts of some of his other compositions, and even hear a snippet of this new work called "Waiting..."!

The most interesting aspect for me about this piece is that it is a single movement with an array of emotional content. After exploring themes, density and speed of my written material (more for a future discussion), he finally selected not one piece, but five! I was flabbergasted, frankly. What audacity and courage to work with that many words that are not, I have to confess, really all that lyrical! I asked him what he was planning to do, and he said that his intention was to create a single movement that worked all the texts together, revolving them around one poem in particular--a piece from Songs of a Soul Journey entitled "Come Again."

Over the next year and a half, bit by bit, Michael engaged with my poetic material in his musical process. Ultimately, he decided not to use all the stanzas of "Come Again", since the piece was becoming very long, and also for a contextual reason. Throughout his creative process, Michael was concerned that the pieces he chose to weave into the single movement he had envisioned would have a coherence. I am pleased to say that I find a great deal of coherence to the way the material is wedded into a single thought, if you will--although I haven't disclosed to Michael the what and why of that. My feeling is this: Michael found a coherence to the material that has resulted in his music. The audience will find a coherence to the material, as they hear it and process it during the performance. Meaning lies in each person's experience of the work.

I won't give anything away by printing "Come Again" in its entirety, but you should know that only the first four stanzas are set in "Waiting..."

Come Again

an eternity of waiting,
a people of waiting in-waiting,
whose sole occupation is waiting,
for an end or a beginning, waiting
for that something beyond waiting
that will make all the waiting
worth having been waited.

this grand pause of waiting,
for a turning or a returning, waiting
as if life were stalled on a comma, waiting
to be launched into a newer verse, waiting
to be sung by all the returning dead, waiting,
as have we done, for the next coming; hoping and waiting,
waiting, waiting, waiting for a next coming.

but what of living, doing, being? Waiting,
as it were, on the presumption of an IF, waiting
for future thought to manifest itself into action, waiting
without a thought that this thought now must also breathe, waiting
on the heartbeat of the collective soul, waiting
for us all to act on our common goal, waiting
for this generation to generate the next anything.

beyond waiting, there is nothing waiting,
and no one shall come down from on high, waiting,
as one might be, for a sign that we are ready and waiting,
for, lacking such an offer, still for some reply we are waiting
for something, from what we suppose to be a heavenly realm, waiting
for a new and familiar face to appear, waiting
to be acknowledged, to be loved, to be led.

surely, we must be beyond waiting;
could not that new and familiar face facing me, waiting
for me to hurry up and move, to get up and go, waiting
for me to do the chores and the mending, waiting
for me to make a beginning and an ending, waiting
for me to heal the tedium of all this waiting,
could that face be the face of God? Waiting?

day on day, moment on moment, waiting
in sight of the face of God, waiting
in the reflection and shadow of God, waiting
on the endless pageant of all the faces of God, waiting
is not the fulfillment of the promise; waiting,
we miss the clear and present signs awaiting
our recognition that the kingdom is here, subtly waiting;
patiently and impatiently, the face of each being is waiting
for me to take the next step.

from © Songs of a Soul Journey, 2002 by Elisabeth Tamar Eliassen