I Will Learn to Love a Person
for soprano, saxophone or clarinet, piano, and percussionsoprano voice, soprano saxophone or clarinet, percussion (vibraphone with motor and bows, glockenspiel), piano (2013)
|I. That night with the green sky
II. Eleven page poem part III
III. I will learn to love a person and then I will teach you and then we will know
IV. When I leave this place
V. Are you ok?
|Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program, with generous funding provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Chamber Music America Endowment Fund.
That Night with the Green Sky was originally commissioned by OPERA America.
|August 18, 2013; Constellation, Chicago, IL; The Color Field Ensemble
In setting out to write my first large vocal piece since completing my opera Invisible Cities in 2011, I wanted to work with a different kind of text from Italo Calvino’s stylized, aphoristic prose. I hoped to find something more immediate that spoke directly to my life: that of an overeducated 29-year-old Millennial—having grown up suburban, overpraised, with the Internet a constant presence.
While those circumstances are at face value unremarkable, I felt that new classical music had not yet addressed the Millennial condition in a meaningful way. It seems at times that "contemporary music" is so intently backwards-looking that it misses what is truly contemporary.
Around this time I read a fantastic essay by the poet Jennifer Moore, “‘No discernible emotion and no discernible lack of emotion’: On Tao Lin”. She discusses Lin’s poetry and the “New Sincerity” movement of which he is considered part. New Sincerity poetry is—simply defined—autobiographical, direct, emotional, stripped down, and self-doubting.
What I discovered in Tao Lin’s poetry fit perfectly into my compositional style. The thematic links between the poems in his book Cognitive Behavioral Therapy allowed me to create a cycle of songs that are similarly connected. The simplicity of the texts also gave me the freedom to try many compositional strategies: sometimes supporting the subject matter with the music, at other times playing against them to highlight certain ambiguities.
In writing these pieces, my hope is to create a work that reflects the strange and beautiful experience of growing up at the turn of the century—and that will continue to have meaning after that moment passes.