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Christopher Cerrone

Goldbeater's Skin

for mezzo-soprano and percussion quartet

(2017)
Text informationAll texts by GC Waldrep, from the collection Goldbeater’s Skin
Duration21'
MovementsI. Apocatastasis
II. Interlude 1: Wood
III. In My Dream
IV. Interlude 2: Metal
V. My Companion and I
VI. Interlude 3: Skin: Fatal Exception
VII. Against the Madness of Crowds
CommissionCommissioned by Elizabeth and Justus Schlichting and the University of Notre Dame's DeBartolo Performing Arts Center
PremiereWorld premiere: February 4, 2017 at the University of Notre Dame's DeBartolo Performing Arts Center with Third Coast Percussion and Rachel Calloway
New York premiere: June 7, 2017 at National Sawdust, Brooklyn with Sandbox Percussion and Elspeth Davis
LanguageEnglish
InstrumentationSee preview pages for full percussion instrumentation details.
Technical requirementsSee preview pages for details on staging, performance, and amplification.
PublisherPSNY

Media

Program Note

I met the poet GC Waldrep at the Macdowell Colony in 2015 and was immediately drawn to him as both a poet and person—friendly, unique, and for a poet, deeply musical. In addition to his study of poetry, he was trained as a countertenor and professed his love for composers like Meredith Monk and David Lang. In turn, we bonded over our shared love for the books of Italo Calvino and the poetry of James Wright. So naturally I was curious about his work.

I tore through his many published volumes, and was drawn in particular his first collection of poems, Goldbeater’s Skin, written 20 years ago, when he was about my age. I found it to be particularly pregnant with musical possibilities (actual musical allusions abound). So I decided to craft a new work for voice and percussion quartet around these poems. They are often deeply imagistic; the source of each reference would be impossible to trace; yet each poem leads inexorably to a potent and dramatic conclusion. I constructed music that functioned similarly—music that is billowing yet always headed towards some kind of denouement. As I sifted through the whole collection, I chose poems whose references overlapped to create connective tissue; some references are more specific than others, but almost all of them are concerned with companionship—whether deep friendship, or love.

The challenge of writing a work for voice and percussion quartet is obvious: four drummers are much louder than one voice, and I wanted the musicians in the quartet to have moments to shine as well. So in turn I constructed a series of interludes (two proper, and one faux interlude), each focused on a single kind of idiophone—wood; metal; then, appropriately enough, skin.

– Christopher Cerrone

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