for soprano and percussion(2012)
|Movements||I. The Dream of Socrates|
II. The Crito
|Premiere||October 21, 2012; Willow Place Auditorium, Brooklyn NY; Kate Soper (soprano) and Ian Antonio (percussion)|
|Synopsis||The arrival of a ship into Athens marks the next day as the day of Socrates' execution (as no execution of a criminal was to be allowed in the city until the return of this particular ship). Crito has come to Socrates’ prison cell with the plan of breaking him out of jail before this can take place, and is dumbfounded and upset at Socrates’ seemingly resigned attitude towards what they both know to be an unjust sentence. Socrates suggests they try together to work through the logic of breaking the law vs. submitting to it. However, in hypothetically framing the arguments that the personified laws might make, Socrates becomes so swept up in the power of his own rhetoric that he succumbs to his invented interlocutors. He will stay and be executed not because it is logical, but because he is dazed by the’ powerful arguments and righteous fury of the laws.|
|Roles||Socrates (soprano): a philosopher famous for his commitment to the pursuit of truth and his pedagogical method of uncovering it through dialogue. He has been sentenced to death for corrupting the Athenian youth.|
Crito (percussionist): Socrates’ best friend, a citizen of Athens and a non-intellectual.
|Instrumentation||Percussion: 4.5 octave marimba, tam-tam, low tom, 2 octaves crotales, woodblock, finger cymbal, suspended cymbal, china cymbal, splash cymbal|
|Technical requirements||Two scores are required for performance.|
In one of Plato's shortest and most deceptively clear-cut dialogues, Socrates is visited in his jail cell by his best friend Crito. Crito wakes Socrates from a mysterious dream to propose a plan of escape before Socrates' imminent execution, but Socrates asks that they first consider the justness of their actions. After spinning out an imagined debate between himself and the personified laws of Athens, Socrates concludes that he must stay and be put to death.
But the hypothetical arguments Socrates creates in the guise of the laws are unsatisfying. Why does Socrates choose to obey laws which he knows to be wrong? Why should he submit to a terrible pronouncement against the pleas of his devoted friend? Could it be that the increasingly uncontrollable presence of the laws Socrates is imagining short-circuits even Socrates' renownd logic? Can the overpowering rhetoric of a warped and tyrannical righteousness obliterate the truth, even when everything is at stake?
- Kate Soper