Ordo Superman

February 6, 2006

College of Saint Mary’s

Omaha, NE

ANALOG Directors Joe Drew & Rudolf Kamper returned to Omaha to perform a narrative recital featuring music by women composers. Framed by Hildegard von Bingen’s legendary morality play, Ordo Superman explores the manifold pressures on contemporary women, arriving at a postmodern communion of the spirit.



Hildegard, “Complaint of Souls Imprisoned in Bodies”

Laura Kaminsky, Elegy for the Silenced Voice

Chiyoko Szlavnics, Not Having Moved At All

Hilary Tann, Look Little Low Heavens

Hildegard, Contempt of the World

Björk, “I’ve Seen It All”

Hildegard, “Who are these…?”

Pauline Oliveros, The Witness

Libby Larsen, Fanfare for Women (please pass the tape recorder to your neighbour)

Heather Frasch, interAktiv/sterEo*

Hildegard, “Hasten and help me…”

Laurie Anderson, “O Superman (For Massenet)”

Hildegard, “Procession”

*world premiere



Joe Drew, trumpet/movement/electronics

Rudolf Kamper, trumpet/piano



Ordo Virtutum, the morality play by Hildegard (1098-1179), centers on the defense of a soul by Virtues such as the deliciously medieval ‘Contempt of the World’. The competing impulses which form a protective network around a mortal life can also be its undoing, as virtue turns to vice, and the Devil, who plagues the soul throughout the play, gains his foothold.


Tonight’s program is framed by selections from Hildegard’s epic, each rendered in a different style, and each bridging the sometimes broad gaps in style among these modern female voices. Laura Kaminsky (b. 1956), founder and artistic director of Musicians’ Accord, addresses grief in a straightforward solo trumpet piece, Elegy for the Silenced Voice (1995), written for an instrument that is usually emblematic of brute force and aggression, rather than heartfelt loss.


ANALOG member Johnny Chang’s microscore project has been running for two years, yielding loads of challenging music, none of which can exceed thirty seconds. Canadian expatriate Chiyoko Szlavnics’ submission calls for a single sustained glissando.


Look Little Low Heavens (1994) takes its title from Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “Spring”, representing the “low heavens” of the title in its arch form. Welsh composer Hilary Tann makes use of a few extended techniques like valve tremolos and doodle tonguing in this lyrical entry in the solo trumpet genre.


In 2000, Iceland’s electronica princess Björk, who’d come up singing post-punk with her groundbreaking band The Sugarcubes, decided to make her acting debut in Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark. Much of what drew her to the role is the maternal instinct of self-sacrifice in protection of children, especially given her notorious attack on a photographer in an airport, when she felt her child was being threatened. “I’ve Seen It All” is powerful dialogue between a mother who stands ready to end her life to protect her child and a nimble tempter who tries all the tricks he knows to convince her to give in to the temptation towards self-preservation.


The Witness takes the concept of self, explored in “I’ve Seen It All”, and tests its limits. Pauline Oliveros’ text score calls for the performers to employ physical, sonic or theatrical gestures, in any combination to explore themselves and their partners. Eventually, the process becomes unfettered by the bounds of time and space, and the performers are encouraged to give witness to their own actions in as universal a way as possible.


Libby Larsen’s Fanfare for the Women is the first direct acknowledgement of the true patriarchal lineage of the primary instruments on tonight’s program. (It was even written to unveil a sports arena!) Instead of celebrating the fanfare’s unbridled masculinity, it is offered up by the audience as they pass a tape recorder to each other, a transgressive gesture that signals the journey’s end is in sight.


interAKtiv/sterEo is heard for the first time on this program. Composed ANALOG member Heather Frasch, it deconstructs the concept of a fanfare, and explores the fringes of extended trumpet technique. Clicking keys, and stylized breathing take over the piece, which is constructed as an enormous dimunition.


“O Superman” remains the most unlikely #1 hit in history. Laurie Anderson’s electronic classic is an embrace of the inescapably fragmented identity of a modern female, and ANALOG uses the minimalist motives of the song to construct a Reillian improvisation piece. Anderson’s titular evocation of Nietzsche’s ubermensch is never sublimated by a similarly powerful female construct, but rather a detente is reached, which is simultaneously barren and cozy, a true snapshot of modern gender identity.


Anderson’s plaintive finale, “So hold me, Mom, in your long arms. Your petrochemical arms. Your military arms. In your electronic arms,” is an electroacoustic reworking of the closing lines of the final Processional from Hildegard’s play, “Father, behold, I am showing you my wounds,” bringing the modern, incompatible voices into a harmony by proximity, the only true consonance left in the world. — Rene Edmunds




Chiyoko Szlavnics, Not Having Moved At All



Heather Frasch, interAktiv/sterEo (recorded by Rudolf Kamper)