Storefront Diva: a dreamscape
for piano and fixed media(2013, revised 2015)
|Premiere||April 25-27, 2013; The Flea Theatre in TriBeCa, New York City; Kathleen Supove, piano|
|Technical requirements||Backing track included with purchase.|
When Kathleen Supové asked me to compose a new work for her 'Digital Debussy' project, I immediately thought of Joseph Cornell’s “dream of Debussy playing piano as in a store seen through spacious window” and envisioned Kathleen in a storefront, as if practicing in her private studio but observed by passersby on the street, exploring our voyeuristic fascination with performers. We created a 4-hour performance event in December 2011 in a rented space on Bleecker Street with an extraordinary white set, costume, video projections and music specifically composed for extended exploration, inspired by Debussy’s Prelude VI [which bears the subscript “(… Des pas sur la neige)”, footprints in the snow].
In restructuring the work for performance at the Flea Theater (April 2013), I composed new musical materials, envisioning the performer existing within a dream, in an otherworldly atmosphere, her gestures larger than life, informed by my direction rather than musical necessity. For the sonic atmosphere, I blended bowed and plucked pianos, vocalizations, electronically modified and extended bells, breath, Tibetan cymbals, lapping water, cacophonous crows and surreal storms. The sounds and images all are inspired and informed by elements from Cornell’s dreams: the “bell maiden”; “stream flowed in from the ocean”; “water beyond one’s depth”; “crows helter-skeltering in rapid flight, raucous on the raw March air”; “rain … coming down in sheets”; “large slices of snow”; “in a new night a comet flashed”. In creating the more formal concert work for premiere at Roulette, March 10, 2015, I reworked the sonic atmosphere for a more coherent flow between piano and the sound environment.
– Joan La Barbara
Special thanks to Paul Geluso (Chief Recording Engineer, James L. Dolan Music Recording Studio, NYU) and Jacob Subotnick (sound designer and remix engineer) for their assistance.