Joan La Barbara
L'albero dalle foglie azzurre (tree of blue leaves)
for oboe solo(1989)
|Commission||Commissioned by the Saint Louis Symphony; Leonard Slatkin, Music Director; for Barbara Herr Orland, oboe|
|Premiere||March 20, 1989; Saint Louis Symphony "Discovery Series"; Barbara Herr, oboe|
On a warm summer night in August 1988, I was sitting in the Botanical Gardens in Rome, waiting for a concert to begin. It was just about dusk and I was experiencing the slight fogginess of jet lag and vaguely musing about the oboe piece I was about to write. Gazing out, I noticed a tree with the most beautiful blue leaves. I was about to ask what kind of tree it was so I could plant one in my garden when the darkening sky revealed the tree was simply illuminated by blue light. I laughed and decided to create a piece about visions and aspects of illusion.
While developing the materials for the piece I was also learning a vocal work by John Cage (Solo for Voice 30 from Songbooks, based on Satie’s music and Thoreau’s texts) and, exploring my own rather schizophrenic existence as both composer and performer, I decided to notate fragments of my vocal “mistakes” or misreadings which I then reworked into lyrical motivic figures. Thus, certain fragments are La Barbara working through Cage writing through Satie. The overall form flows loosely: Beauty – Beast – Beauty Transformed, as the lyrical motives delineated within the indigenous oboe sound develop an almost frantic energy, moving through a chaotic whirlwind with sampled oboe material mixing with voices, percussion, and synthesized sounds, before returning to a gentler “transformed” color.
The tape part was created by recording my singing into a computer (through a pitch follower), adjusting the lines and then playing it back as a sampled oboe and bassoon, mixed with recordings of Barbara Herr Orland (for whom the piece was written) playing oboe double stops blending into fragments of an early work of mine, CYCLONE for voices, percussion and ARP 2600 synthesizer.
L’albero dale foglie azzurre was commissioned by the Saint Louis Symphony for Barbara Herr Orland who premiered it March 20, 1989 on the Symphony’s “Discovery Series” and subsequently recorded it for “The Virtuoso in the Computer Age-III” CDCM Computer Music Series Vol. 13 (Centaur CRC 2166).
– Joan La Barbara