to open myself, to scream
for clarinet/bass clarinet, C trumpet, violin, cello, contrabass, and prerecorded backing track(2017)
i. I dream of living
|Commission||Commissioned by Music of Remembrance|
|Premiere||May 21, 2017: Music of Remembrance presents at Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall at Benaroya Hall; Seattle, WA|
|Technical requirements||Contact the publisher for electronics (firstname.lastname@example.org).|
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to open myself, to scream is a portrait piece on Romani artist, writer, musician, and Holocaust survivor Ceija Stojka. What draws me to Stojka’s work are her themes of longing for the past and coping with the aftermath of unimaginable trauma. As a granddaughter of Armenian genocide survivors, such themes felt familiar to me within my own culture and family history, and these are common themes in other cultures that have and are continuing to experience mass exterminations. I am a firm believer in the arts as a medium for change, and I hope to continue the conversation about how we sympathize with those who experience the unimaginable, and how we can pull from the past to move forward.
Each movement is inspired by various paintings of Stojka’s – from her paintings that celebrate her free and vibrant Romani life, to those that explore the horrific experiences she endured during the Holocaust. Composed for mixed ensemble and electronic track, the music often integrates elements of folk music within a contemporary musical language. The ensemble members play amplified with prerecorded samples of themselves – performing in the present while engaging with the past. Inspired by Stojka’s fond memories of her mother, who would calm her with her singing, a distant and intangible voice presents itself throughout the work. The music alternates between polarities of bliss and tragedy, in an effort to understand Stojka’s unique perspective, and draws on imagery related to family, community, nature, the seasons, fear, nakedness, and shame. The piece and movements are titled after Stojka’s own words.
– Mary Kouyoumdjian