Voices from the Killing Jar
for soprano, ensemble, and electronics(2010-2012)
|Movements||I. Prelude: May Kasahara|
II. Isabel Archer: My Last Duchess
III. Palilalia: Iphigenia
IV. Midnight's Tolling: Lucile Duplessis
V. Mad Scene: Emma Bovary
VI. Interlude: Asta Sollilja
VII. The Owl and the Wren: Lady Macduff
VIII. Her Voice is Full of Money: Daisy Buchanan
|Premiere||December 8, 2012; The DiMenna Center, New York City; The Wet Ink Band - Ian Antonio, percussion • Erin Lesser, flutes • Alex Mincek, saxophone • Josh Modney, violin • Sam Pluta, electronics & baritone • Kate Soper, voice • Eric Wubbels, piano|
|Instrumentation||Soprano, baritone (one movement only), flute (piccolo, c, bass), tenor saxophone, percussion, piano, violin, and live electronics.|
See score sample for complete list of percussion and auxiliary instruments.
|Technical requirements||See score sample for details regarding electronics and amplification.|
Complete package of electronics is included with purchase.
A killing jar is a tool used by entomologists to kill butterflies and other insects without damaging their bodies: a hermitically sealable glass container, lined with poison, in which the specimen will quickly suffocate. Voices from the Killing Jar depicts a series of female protagonists who are caught in their own kinds of killing jars – hopeless situations, inescapable fates, impossible fantasies, and other unlucky circumstances – each living in a world constructed from among the countless possible sonic environments of the Wet Ink Band.
I. In Prelude: May Kasahara, the titular 16 year-old of Haruki Murakami's Wind-Up Bird Chroniclespeculates on the true nature of the force underlying human existence, admitting its influence on her to commit acts of violence and cruelty.
II. Isabel Archer: My Last Duchess, set to excerpts from a 19th century dramatic monologue by Robert Browning, portays the heroine of Henry James' Portrait of a Lady (personified in a gradually collapsing clarinet tremolo), whose disastrous marriage to a soulless Machiavellian ends all hope for the future.
III. Palilalia is the pathological repetition a word or phrase. In Palilalia: Iphigenia, Clytemnestra broods on the murder of her daughter Iphigenia. She sends a prayer for bloodshed to Artemis, goddess of the hunt, instructions to Iphigenia in Hades, and a grim warning to her absent husband Agamemnon.
IV. Lucile Duplessis is remembered for being the wife of French Revolutionary Camille Desmoulins, and was executed by guillotine at 24. Midnight's Tollingsets excerpts from a journal she kept as an extravagantly moody young girl and teenager, full of undirected angst and bloodthirsty charm.
V. Mad Scene: Emma Bovary, a look into the seething mind of the irrepressible Madame Bovary, depicts a scene in Gustave Flaubert's novel in which she is thrown into delusional raptures during a night at the opera.
VI. In Haldor Laxness' epic novel Independent People, the heartbreakingly sensitive young Asta Solilja finds beauty and a dream of love while cloud-gazing on her father's harshly isolated sheep farm in 19th century Iceland.
VII. Towards the end of Shakespeare's Macbeth, Lady Macduff is brutally and unforgettably murdered along with her children. The Owl and the Wrenis the lullaby of her final moments, distorted by intimations of approaching horror.
VIII. In F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, Daisy's voice is variouslydescribed as"a singing compulsion," "an exhilarating ripple," "a deathless song." Just before the novel's tragic climax, Gatsby himself weighs in for the first time, reducing this extraordinary feature to an impersonal signifier of generic luxury: "her voice is full of money."
- Kate Soper