A selection of works celebrating queer composers through time. July 24, 2014 | 7:30pm Roundhouse Community Centre 181 Roundhouse Mews
Cor Flammae is:
Peggy Hua & Hussein Janmohamed 2014 Guest Conductors Missy Clarkson Madeline Hannan-Leith Kiyomi Hori edzie oo Kate Parnell
Byron Hanson Bruce Hoffman Michael Park Tristan Pearson C.D. Saint Nick Sommer
Ann Chen Megan Dray Hillary Ison Lau Mehes Bea Miller Tessa Taylor
Peter Alexander Russell Cripps William Liu Troy Martell Shane Raman
Creative Team Missy Clarkson Managing Director Madeline Hannan-Leith Volunteer Coordinator Amelia Pitt-Brooke Print Design, Donor Relations Peggy Hua, Hussein Janmohamed, Shane Raman
Contributors & Consultants
who have given invaluable advice and help towards making Cor Flammae a reality:
David Gordon Duke Morna Edmundson Tom Ellis Deanna Gestrin Kara Gibbs Bruce Hoffman Rachel Iwaasa Joel Klein Paula Kremer Graeme Langager Carmen Papalia Shane Raman Rodney Sharman
Stephen Smith Walter Quan Styling Adam Dickson Lighting Design Cassandra Turner Volunteers Andi Alexander Shea April
Patrick Bonczyk Tegan Colby Ashley Dunne Jennifer Gagne Caelan Griffiths Eleanor Hannan Soo Jeong Sande Rees Belinda Siu Cam Sture Sara Watt
COVER PHOTO BY BELLE ANCELL PHOTOGRAPHY
We would also like to acknowledge the support and assistance of Pride In Art and the Queer Arts Festival, not only by being our hosts, but in developing the project and bringing our vision of professional queer choral music to life. Our deepest thanks!
A selection of works celebrating queer composers through time. July 24th, 2014 Reincarnations Samuel Barber (1910-1981) I. Mary Hynes II. Anthony O’Daly III. The Coolin
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
Trois beaux oiseaux du Paradis
Soloists: Kiyomi Hori, C.D. Saint, Ann Chen, Peter Alexander
Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
i wana cry with u
Michael Park (1983)
A Quiet Moment
Jennifer Higdon (1962)
The Unicorn, The Gorgon & The Manticore Introduction First Madrigal Second Madrigal
Gian Carlo Menotti (1911-2007)
INTERMISSION Eleventh Madrigal Twelfth Madrigal From This Hour, Freedom!
Stephen Smith (1966)
John Cage (1912-1992)
Sure on this Shining Night
Soloists: Byron Hanson, Kiyomi Hori
Advance Democracy Can You Hear Me?
Samuel Barber, arr. Shane Raman (1979) Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) Catherine Laub (1979)
Welcome Inspired by the 2013 production of the groundbreaking lesbian opera, When the Sun Comes Out, Cor Flammae is a project to create queer art within the choral music genre. We aim to celebrate both queer composers and the talent and abilities of the classical singers in our community in order to create musical experiences that speak to queer audiences. We invite you to see what happens when we come towards the universal experiences and transcendent emotions of music from a place of queerness. When we put the works of Barber in the same programme as his partner Menotti can something new be heard? Are there elements that speak to a queer experience—isolation, multiplicity, choice—that create a new aesthetic? Sexual identity is a modern concept, but we always perceive history—history with which the Western classical genre is so obsessed—through the lens of the present, framing current ‘norm’ as truth. Our aim is to invite other truths into the experience of classical choral music, and through this reframing, do justice to the music in its wholeness. Thank you for joining us in this experiment—we hope you enjoy our ‘Reincarnations.’
Letter from the Conductors Welcome to the inaugural concert of Cor Flammae, Canada’s first classical queer choral ensemble. It is our distinct pleasure and privilege to be guest conducting this year, working with such outstanding singers, and presenting gorgeous and thought-provoking secular classical choral music. Inherent in choral singing is the capacity to make soul-stirring music regardless of difference. Choral music can successfully erase difference and enable people of diverse backgrounds, cultural, sexual or gender identities to join in common purpose. However, what if people with common struggles, shared narratives and musical passion actually sang together? This is what excites us about Cor Flammae. We get to see first hand the impact of diverse queer classical singers singing choral music written by queer composers, historic and contemporary, for you, our Queer Arts Festival audience. These stunning choral works inspire us and it thrills us to re-tell the stories of their composers that may have intentionally or unintentionally been left out of history books. While presented through a queer lens, in programming this concert we discovered common human stories – stories of longing, love, separation, freedom, compassion, social action and regeneration. We hope that the sounds you hear tonight will find resonance with you in some way or another, and activate a deeper love for classical choral music. Thank you for sharing this historic evening with Cor Flammae. Peggy Hua is a dynamic emerging conductor in Vancouver. A past assistant conductor of UBC Choirs and guest conductor of various choral groups, she currently directs the Maple Grove Elementary Choir and the Vancouver Orchestra Club Choir. Hussein Janmohamed is a Vancouver-based choral conductor, composer, clinician and presenter. As a community arts facilitator, he is passionate about unlocking the musical potential of any group to sing together and generate intercultural understanding.
Reincarnations Reincarnations (1924) Samuel Barber (1910-1981) Samuel Barber was a prolific and celebrated American composer of orchestral, choral, opera and piano work, popularly known for his Adagio for Strings (1936). His family was musical, and he studied piano and composed from a young age. At age nine, he “came out” as a composer to his mother in a letter: Dear Mother: I have written this to tell you my worrying secret. Now don’t cry when you read it because it is neither yours nor my fault. I suppose I will have to tell it now without any nonsense. To begin with I was not meant to be an athlet [sic]. I was meant to be a composer, and will be I’m sure...
He entered the Curtis Institute of Music at age 14, and which is where he met Gian Carlo Menotti, who was to become his romantic partner for over 40 years. Menotti’s “Twelfth Madrigal” (featured later in this programme) was performed at Barber’s funeral in 1981. Barber’s musical style married European Romanticism with American directness, and he frequently used poetic texts in his compositions. Reincarnations is a setting of three poems by James Stephens (1882-1950), from a larger collection which was a re-interpretation of Gaelic poems by Anthony Raftery. “Mary Hynes” is an effervescent tribute to a great beauty of Western Ireland. The dirge “Anthony O’Daly” eulogizes an environmentalist unjustly sentenced for a shooting, and music reflects the numbness of grief through the droning bass note. “The Coolin” is a term for a loved one and this piece is intimate and dreamlike, but not without a wisp of Barber’s trademark melancholy.
I. Mary Hynes She is the sky of the sun! She is the dart of love! She is the love of my heart! She is a rune! She is above the women of the race of Eve, as the sun is above the moon! Lovely and airy the view from the hill that looks down Ballylea! But no good sight is good, until you see the blossom of the branches walking towards you, airily.
II. Anthony O’Daly Since your limbs were laid out the stars do not shine! The fish leap not out in the waves! On our meadows the dew does not fall in the morn, For O Daly is dead! Not a flow’r can be born! Not a word can be said! Not a tree have a leaf! Anthony! After you there is nothing to do! There is nothing but grief!
III. The Coolin Come with me, under my coat, And we will drink our fill of the milk of the white goat, Or wine if it be thy will.
And we will talk until talk is a trouble too, out on the side of the hill; And nothing is left to do, but an eye to look into an eye, And a hand in a hand to slip; And a sigh to answer a sigh; And a lip to find out a lip! What if the night be black! Or the air on the mountain chill! Where the goat lies down in her track, and all but the fern is still! Stay with me, under my coat, And we will drink our fill Of the milk of the white goat, Out on the side of the hill!
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
One of the leading figures of the early Romantic movement, Franz Peter Schubert was a voraciously prolific composer, producing over 600 art songs in addition to operas, symphonies, incidental music, piano pieces and works for chorus. As an 18 year old, he was composing a piece roughly every three days, and completed an average of 65 bars of music a day over the span of his career. He kept this incredible pace over a very short lifetime, dying from illness at 31. The sexuality of Franz Schubert has been hotly debated among academics for years. Compelling arguments for his queerness have been published, then rebuked with much animosity and scholarly controversy. He was known to be a “chaser of women,” but his vague relationships with male friends and sex workers bely this argument against his queerness, pointing instead to a possible bisexuality. He kept close company with a group of artists, centred around Franz von Schober, and the surviving letters of this group were filled with passionate words of love for each other, blurring the conventions of intimate male friendships of the time. Frühlingslied (Spring Song) is one of Schubert’s 150 partsongs and choruses. Part singing was an emerging musical style in Vienna, increasingly popular throughout German-speaking Europe. The poetry for Frühlingslied, is by Aaron Pollak, and the musical work was commissioned by publisher Haslinger, though later Schubert reworked it as a solo song with piano accompaniment. Geöffnet sind des Winters Riegel, Entschwunden ist sein Silberflor; Hell blinken der Gewässer Spiegel, Die Lerche schwingt sich hoch empor; Wie durch des greisen Königs Siegel Geweckt ertönt der Freude Chor.
Opened are Winter’s bolts, Vanished is his silver veil; Brightly does the water’s mirror sparkle; The lark swings himself high aloft. As if awakened by the old king’s seal, A chorus of joy bursts forth.
Der Frühling schwebt auf das Gefilde Und lieblich wehet Zephyr nur, Der Blumenfülle süße Milde Erhebt sich in der Luft Azur, In der Verklärung Wunderbilde Empfängt uns lächelnd die Natur.
Spring hovers over the meadow, And zephyrs waft only so charmingly; The sweet mildness of abundant flowers Rises into the azure air, And in its wondrous transfiguration Nature smilingly receives us.
Schon prangen goldgeschmückt Sylphiden Und Florens Reich erblüht verschönt, Rings waltet Lust und stiller Frieden, Der Hain ist nun mit Laub bekrönt, Wer fühlet, ihm ist Glück beschieden, Weil Eros’ süßer Ruf ertönt. Empfanget denn mit trautem Gruße Den holden Lenz, den Schmuck der Welt, Der weihend uns mit leisem Kusse Des Daseins Rosenbahn erhellt, Der hold uns winkt zum Hochgenusse Und jedes Herz mit Wonne schwellt.
Already sylphs parade in gold array, And Flora’s kingdom blooms beauteously; All around prevails joy and tranquil peace, And the grove is now crowned with leaves. Whoever feels - to him is granted happiness As Eros’ sweet call resounds. Receive then, with sincere greetings, Fair Spring, the jewel of the world, Who consecrates us with a soft kiss And lights up the rosy path of our existences, Who sweetly beckons us to the highest pleasures, And swells each heart with bliss.
Trois beaux oiseaux du Paradis (1916)
Soloists: Kiyomi Hori, C.D. Saint, Ann Chen, Peter Alexander
Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
One of the best known figures in impressionist music, Ravel was a prolific turn of the century composer, and both an influential and odd figure. Born in 1875 in the Basque region of France, he doted on his strange mother, while his father was an inventor best known for creating failed circus attraction, “The Whirlwind of Death.” Immersed in the artistic world of Paris, his contemporaries and friends included Stravinsky, Inghelbrecht, the young Satie, and Debussy. Influenced by the work of Edgar Allan Poe, Ravel utilized the writer’s compositional strategies and cultivated a dandy persona. While his queerness has been contested, friends say he had a secret collection of gay pornography and was reputed to have been involved with pianist and school friend Ricardo Viñes (teacher to Francis Poulenc) as well as composer Manuel de Falla. The events of his time left their imprints on his music. Trois beaux oiseaux du Paradis was composed between 1914 and 1915, while Ravel was waiting to join the French forces in WWI. It is written in the style of a Renaissance chanson, revealing a patriotic interest in traditional French forms. It is one of his few choral works, and notably, the text is his own. He dedicated the work to mathematician, pilot and future French Prime Minister, Paul Painlevé, who had already left to fight, and the music summons the bittersweetness of fleeting beauty, and of farewells. Trois beaux oiseaux du Paradis, (Mon ami z’il est à la guerre) Trois beaux oiseaux du Paradis Ont passé par ici. Le premier était plus bleu que ciel, (Mon ami z’il est à la guerre) Le second était couleur de neige, Le troisième rouge vermeil. “Beaux oiselets du Paradis, (Mon ami z’il est à la guerre) Beaux oiselets du Paradis, Qu’apportez par ici?”
Three lovely birds from Paradise (My belov’d is to the fighting gone) Three lovely birds from Paradise Have flown along this way. The first was bluer than Heaven’s blue (My belov’d is to the fighting gone) The second white as the fallen snow The third was wrapt in bright red glow. “Ye lovely birds from Paradise (My belov’d is to the fighting gone) Ye lovely birds from Paradise What bring ye then this way?”
“J’apporte un regard couleur d’azur. (Ton ami z’il est à la guerre)” “Et moi, sur beau front couleur de neige, Un baiser dois mettre, encore plus pur”
“I bring to thee a glance of azure (Thy belov’d is to the fighting gone)” “And I on fairest snow white brow A fond kiss must leave, yet purer still.”
“Oiseau vermeil du Paradis, (Mon ami z’il est à la guerre) Oiseau vermeil du Paradis, Que portez-vous ainsi?”
“Thou bright red bird from Paradise (My belov’d is to the fighting gone) Thou bright red bird from Paradise What bringest thou to me?”
“Un joli cœur tout cramoisi ... (Ton ami z’il est à la guerre)” “Ah! je sens mon cœur qui froidit ... Emportez-le aussi.”
“A faithful heart all crimson red, (Thy belov’d is to the fighting gone)” “Ah! I feel my heart glowing cold... Take it also with thee.”
i wana cry with u (2014)
Michael Park (1983)
Michael Park is a composer and pianist with a keen interest in speech, humour, and collaboration. Heralded for his innovative projects, he presented the acclaimed Ted Talk “Experiencing Disease Through Music” and in 2013 composed the award-winning opera, Diagnosis Diabetes. He is a founder and codirector of Art Song Lab, an innovative program that teams composers with poets. This is the premiere performance of i wana cry with u, which was commissioned by Cor Flammae for this concert. Park says of the poem by Steve Roggenbuck: I’ve read this text from countless perspectives and I wouldn’t dare choose just one. From the eyes of young love, it’s relentlessly hopeful and from the tears of loss, devastating. I trust it’s something completely different for you. I haven’t yet decided what it is for me.
Inviting individual interpretation of the meaning, the structure of the music contains segments where singers are encouraged to repeat or change tempo to their personal taste, creating a sense of liveness, as they react in real time to the movement of the ensemble. i wana cry with u but we cant because if we were together we wouldn’t be sad
A Quiet Moment (1999)
Jennifer Higdon (1962)
Jennifer Higdon is one of the most performed contemporary composers working in America, and the third most widely played. This Pulitzer-prize winning composer is famous for her orchestral work, but she also composes choral music and is in the process of writing her first opera, which will premiere in 2015. She and her partner, Cheryl Lawson, met in their high-school marching band and have been together ever since. Lawson works alongside Higdon in their independent publishing house, administrating the many orders for Higdon’s music. Higdon also teaches at the Curtis Institute, where she once studied, it’s famous alumni also including Barber and Menotti.
According to Higdon, “A Quiet Moment” is: …about the people we meet in our lifetimes and how our souls are affected by them and how we affect others. It’s a song to ourselves, to you, and to everyone we know. It’s a song about living and letting go and being and saying goodbye. In this world we live and clocking time goes by. We sing our soul a song, in peace, a lullaby. Dancing through days with Love through our hearts, for those who’ve slipped away, The sky in sunset marks, in a moment’s song, a quiet lullaby
No words can tell us how to say good bye. So we give this song to you, a blessing let it be. Quiet moment’s thought of peace and harmony.
The Unicorn, The Gorgon & The Manticore (1956)
Gian Carlo Menotti
Though known as a champion of late Romantic stage music, Gian Carlo Menotti wove threads of folk culture into many of his compositions. His crowning achievement of the fantastical and the folk was his set of twelve madrigals and instrumental interludes, The Unicorn, the Gorgon, and the Manticore or, The Three Sundays of a Poet. Modeled after a medieval bestiary and Orazio Vecchi’s renaissance madrigal comedy L’Amfiparnaso, Menotti’s “madrigal fable” consists of an introduction, twelve madrigals a cappella, six instrumental interludes and originally included twelve dancers bound together in a narrative tapestry. The Unicorn pushes against the inflexible style markers, monolithic representations of gender, and univocality valued in Italian Romanticism. Instead, it is a story of the shifting character of a poet, from innocence and purity (the unicorn), to worldly self-satisfaction (the gorgon), to meekness (the manticore). Menotti resists the rigid expectations for a male composer of late-Romantic dramatic stage music when he looks to magic, nature, and animals as moral exemplars rather than historical wars or politics. A large part of the The Unicorn devotes time to the various reactions of the townsfolk, who at first mock the poet for his fantastical pets, and then acquire their own, only to kill off the beasts when a new creature becomes more popular. While representing Menotti’s turbulent relationship with his critics, it also paints the picture of an outsider narrative where the misunderstood poet is demonized by a moblike, fashion-obsessed society who react with aggression towards the unknown. Menotti considered the final madrigal his most melancholic choral composition; it was later performed at the funeral of his partner of over 40 years, Samuel Barber, in 1981.
Introduction There once lived a Man in a Castle, and a strange man was he. He shunned the Countess’ parties; he yawned at town meetings; he would not let the doctor take his pulse; he did not go to church on Sundays. Oh what a strange man is the Man in the Castle!
First Madrigal Ev’ry Sunday afternoon, soft winds fanning the fading sun, all the respectable folk went out walking slowly on the pink promenade by the sea. Proud husbands velvety-plump, with embroider’d silk-pale ladies. At four o’clock they all greeted each other; They spoke ill of each other at six: “How d’you do?” “Very well, thank you.” “Have you heard?” “Pray, do tell me.” “Tcha tcha tcha tcha tcha ra tcha ra tcha...” “How funny, how amusing, how odd! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!” “How well you look!” “How pretty your dress!” “Thank you.” “Thank you.” “Good-bye.” “Good-bye.” “Isn’t she a gossip!” “Isn’t she a fright!” “How d’you do?” “Very well, thank you.” “What do you think of this and that?” “In my humble opinion: Bla bla bla bla bla la la la la bla...” “How profound, how clever, how true! Only you could understand me.” “Thank you.” “Thank you.” “Good-bye.” “Good-bye.” “Oh, what a pompous ass!” “Oh, what a fool!”
Second Madrigal (Enter the Man in the Castle and the Unicorn) One Sunday afternoon the proud Man in the Castle joined the crowd in the promenade by the sea. He walked slowly down the quai leading by a silver chain a captive unicorn. The townsfolk stopped to stare at the ill-assorted pair. Thinking the man insane some laughed with pity, some laughed with scorn: “What a scandalous sight to see a grown-up man promenade a unicorn in plain daylight all through the city” “If one can stroke the cat and kick the dog; if one can pluck the peacock and flee the bee; if one can ride the horse and hook the hog; if one can tempt the mouse and swat the fly, Why, why would a man both rich and well-born raise a unicorn?” “If one can strike the boar with the spear and pierce the lark with an arrow; if one can hunt the fox and the deer, and net the butterfly and eat the sparrow; if one can bid the falcon fly and let the robin die; Why, why would a man both rich and well-born raise a unicorn?” “If one can skin the mole and crush the snake; if one can tame the swan on the lake and harpoon the dolphin in the sea; if one can chain the bear and train the flea; if one can sport with the monkey and chatter with the magpie, Why, why would a man both rich and well-born raise a unicorn?”
Eleventh Madrigal (The Townsfolk) Have you noticed the Man in the Castle is seen no more Walking on Sundays his Manticore. I have a suspicion. Do you suppose? Do you? The Manticore too?
We must form a committee to stop all these crimes. We should arrest him, we should splice his tongue and triturate his bones. He should be tortured with water and fire, with pulleys and stones (He should be put on the rack, on the wheel, on the stake.) in molten lead, in the Iron Maiden. Let us all go to explore the inner courts of the Castle and find out what he has done with the rare Manticore.
(The Man in the Castle on his death-bed, surrounded by the Unicorn, the Gorgon, and the Manticore.)
Oh foolish people who feign to feel what other men have suffered. You, not I, are the indifferent killers of the poet’s dreams. How could I destroy the pain wrought children of my fancy? What would my life have been without their faithful and harmonious company? Unicorn, My youthful foolish Unicorn, please do not hide, come close to me. And you, my Gorgon, behind whose splendor I hid the doubts of my midday, you, too, stand by. And here is my shy and lonely Manticore, who gracefully leads me to my grave. Farewell. Equally well I loved you all. Although the world may not suspect it, all remains intact within the Poet’s heart. Farewell. Not even death I fear as in your arms I die. Farewell.
From this Hour, Freedom! (2000)
Stephen Smith (1966)
Stephen Smith grew up in rural Nova Scotia, where he sang and played the piano from an early age. After initial studies in his home province in both piano and organ, he attended the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England. Since 1990, Stephen has lived in Vancouver, obtaining his doctoral degree in piano performance from the University of British Columbia and contributing to the musical life of the city as a performer, teacher, composer, choral conductor, and adjudicator. His choral arrangements and compositions have been performed and recorded by choirs from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Seoul, South Korea. According to the composer, From This Hour Freedom is “a short, dignified statement about choosing one’s own way in life.” The text is drawn from Walt Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road,” from the bisexual poet’s famously controversial book Leaves of Grass. Smith’s use of the text in this piece was inspired by the movie “Billy Elliot.” From this hour, Freedom From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines, Going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.
John Cage (1912-1992)
John Cage was an experimental American composer and pianist, and a pivotal figure in the development of 20th century music. Finding a muse in his life-partner, contemporary dancer Merce Cunningham, the couple’s artistic collaborations shaped the development of the avant-garde in their respective genres. Cage’s artistic ideas focused on inquiries into the nature of what we consider music to be. He interrogated the formal structures of Western classical music by using chance to define elements of piece, experimenting with the prepared piano (the technique of creating new sounds by inserting objects into the instrument), incorporating environmental sounds and looking at time and silence as important musical elements. His famously controversial 4’33” is defined only by the time that the pianist sits silently at the keyboard, any sound in the piece coming from the room at large. His final works are generally known as the “number pieces,” their titles coming from the number of performers in the piece. In the case of Four², the number refers to the four vocal sections. The number pieces are structured in a series of brackets that show when an element of the piece may begin or end, but the timing of events inside the brackets is decided by the ensemble.
Sure on this Shining Night (arr. 2008) Soloists: Byron Hanson, Kiyomi Hori
Samuel Barber, arr. Shane Raman (1979)
Another setting of a poetic text, Barber’s “Sure on this Shining Night” (from Four Songs, op.13) was based on a poem by Pulitzer Prize-winner, James Agee, who eventually became a friend to the composer. The structure of the composition has been said to echo work by Brahms and Schumann, and it is one of the most performed of all Barber’s pieces for voice. Shane Raman is a Vancouver-based composer, baritenor and instructor who has performed in many of the city’s ensembles, notably musica intima, Vancouver Opera, Vancouver Cantata Singers, Vancouver Chamber Choir, and most recently Cor Flammae. We are pleased to present his arrangement, Sure on this Shining Night, originally created for musica intima in 2008. Inspired by two of Barber’s arrangements of the piece—one for solo voice as well as a choral version —Raman’s focus was transitioning the original piano accompaniment into a choral background, and weaving the separate vocal lines into a unified sound. Raman transferred the counter melody in Barber’s art song arrangement from piano to voice, creating a second solo. The resulting duet at times clarifies or obscures the meaning of the text. Raman says of the piece: I don’t pretend to understand the poetry in a linear way, but I find that the marriage of the melodies and the word choice reveal more about the meaning of this piece, and still remains ambiguous.
Sure on this shining night Of star made shadows round, Kindness must watch for me This side the ground. The late year lies down the north. All is healed, all is health. High summer holds the earth.
Hearts all whole. Sure on this shining night I weep for wonder wand’ring far alone Of shadows on the stars.
Advance Democracy (1939)
Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)
Benjamin Britten was one of England’s foremost 20th century composers, credited with fostering the rebirth of British opera and promoting a culture of musical engagement beyond the circles of the musical elite. His relationship with his life-partner, tenor Peter Pears, was widely known but never discussed, and was one of the motivating influences in his music. Britten wrote his operas for Pears to sing and Pears supported Britten’s endeavours; both rose to fame in creative collaboration. Britten’s parents, notably his mother, supported the prodigious young Britten in his early studies, but their care and parochial attitudes became, at times, smothering. When Britten got a job composing documentary scores for the General Post Office Film Unit, he met a cadre of older gay artists, among them collaborator W.H. Auden, who nurtured his early creative and political development: left wing, agnostic, queer, and pacifist. Advance Democracy is a partsong with lyrics by Randall Swingler, editor of Left Review. The song was a response to the Munich Crisis of that year, when the Allies failed to appease Germany by allowing the annex of the Sudetenland. Britten also composed music for the 1938 film of the same title, promoting the co-operative movement and trade unionism. Fear of the growing threat of fascism fills the images of the text, and Britten illustrates this sense of uncertainty through the use of a snaking melodic line that passes from each section and back again. Across the darkened city the frosty searchlights creep, Alert for the first marauder, to steal upon our sleep. We see the sudden headlines float on the muttering tide. We hear them warn and threaten and wonder what they hide. There are whispers across tables, talks in a shutter’d room. The price on which they bargain will be a people’s doom. There’s a roar of war in the factories and idle hands on the street And Europe held in nightmare by the thud of marching feet. Now sinks the sun of surety,the shadows growing tall Of the big bosses plotting their biggest coup of all. Is there no strength to save us? No power we can trust. Before our lives and liberties Are powder’d into dust. Time to arise Democracy, time to rise up and cry, That what our fathers fought for We’ll not allow to die. Time to resolve divisions, time to renew our pride, Time to decide, time to burst our house of glass. Rise as a single being in one resolve arrayed: Life shall be for the people That’s by the people made.
Can You Hear Me? (2014)
Catherine Laub (1979)
Catherine Laub is a Vancouver composer, soprano, educator, and arts administrator. Originally from Indiana, she has become an integral part of Vancouver’s musical life. She co-directed the Erato Ensemble from 2006-2013, and in 2012 became the artistic director of the Roedde House Museum’s Second Sunday Concert Series. Catherine is also a member of a cappella trio, Kallisto, Vancouver Chamber Choir, and the Windsong Trio, and has sung with many of Vancouver’s top ensembles as both a chorister and a soloist. She and her partner, pianist Rita Attrot, specialize in chamber music and German and French art song. “Can You Hear Me?” is another Cor Flammae commission premiering tonight. Laub states: “Can You Hear Me?” was written as a song lyric exploring the coming out process. The intent is to unpack the feelings of mixed anxiety and hope inherent to the attempt to understand and express oneself fully at this vulnerable time. Rather than making an explicitly “queer” statement, the song makes an invitation to understanding—open to anyone who has ever felt isolated, misunderstood, or both hopeful about and frightened of love. The musical language of this song is intentionally accessible, with logical voice leading and interest in each part. The shimmering dissonances of the opening, evocative of hesitant excitement or anxiety, will be transformed by the end into a new kind of perceived harmony. The composer’s intention is to create a sonic journey with origins in the queer community but with which anyone can identify.
Can you hear me? Do you see me here? See that I am not what I appear. Nothing is ever simple, simple as it seems. Seems like it’s time to tell you, tell you all my dreams. Can you stand it? Do you understand? Under no illusions, take my hand. Take what I want to give you. All of this is real. How long have I been waiting to tell you what I feel? Can you love me, love me as I am? I am here, unwilling to pretend That we could ever go back to “someday, somehow.” Somehow I have to show you our time is now. Can you hear me now?
Some of our Queeristers will be guest performers with Seattle’s GSA youth choir, Diverse Harmony, for their Vancouver tour.
Jul 26, 7:30pm | Christ Alive Church 1155 Thurlow St, Vancouver www.diverseharmony.org
Cor Flammae is proud to be a Vancouver Queer Film Festival Community Partner for their showing of Bruce LaBruce’s Pierrot Lunaire. Aug 19th, 9:30pm | Vancity
Theatre - 1181 Seymour St, Vancouver www.queerfilmfestival.ca
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