Ordo Superman

Presented by Arts in the Cathedral

Saturday, February 3, 2007 7:30 p.m.

Church of the Saviour

Cleveland, OH

 

ANALOG arts ensemble makes its Cleveland debut with its narrative concert based on Hildegard's legendary mystery play Ordo Virtutum. Hildegard's chants will be performed by members of the Church of the Saviour Chancel Choir, while ANALOG trumpeter Joseph Drew performs an intoxicating mix of contemporary solo works, many written expressly for him. Program

 

 

 

PROGRAM

 

Karlheinz Stockhausen, Entrance & Formula

Hildegard, "Who are these...?"

Hildegard, "O Ancient Holy Ones..."

Giacinto Scelsi, Four Pieces for Solo Trumpet: III, II

Hildegard, "Hasten and help me..."

Hildegard, "O Soul..."

Chiyoko Szlavnics, Not Having Moved At All

Giacinto Scelsi, Four Pieces for Solo Trumpet: I, IV

Hildegard, "Foolish! Foolish!"

Hildegard, "O bewailing loudly"

Hildegard, "What is the power..."

Hildegard, "I and my companions"

Hildegard, "We, however..."

Hildegard, "I, Humility..."

Karlheinz Stockhausen, Upper Lip Dance

Hildegard, "Flee..."

Hildegard, "If you help us..."

Hildegard, "I, Contempt of the World"

Radiohead, "How to Disappear Completely"

George Brecht, Symphony (please pass the tape recorder to your neighbor)

Hildegard, "O Glorious lady"

Pauline Oliveros, String-Utopia

Johnny Chang, DUEOL*

Hildegard, "You Know Not..."

Hildegard, "How could this touch me"

Istvan B'Racz, Four In Stance

Laurie Anderson, "Oh Superman" / Hildegard, Procession

* world premiere

 

PERSONNEL

 

Joe Drew, Trumpet

Jose Rondon, cello

 

Members of the Church of the Saviour Chancel Choir: Jill Barr, Debbie Drew, Joan LeFavour, Marilyn Meadows, Mary Lou Sykora, Evan Bescan, Robert Day, Stephen diLauro, Alan Higbee, Robert Day, Chorus Master; Judith Higbee,

 

Patriarchs and Prophets: all men
The Devil: Alan Higbee
The Soul: Robert Day
Humility: Jill Barr, Debbie Drew
Innocence: Evan Bescan
Contempt of the World: Joan LeFavour, Marilyn Meadows, Mary Lou Sykora
Chastity: all women
Procession: all singers

 

 

PROGRAM NOTES

PROGRAM NOTES

Ordo Virtutum (Order of the Virtues/The Hierarchy of Courage), 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 and taunts the Virtues throughout the play, gains his foothold. Ordo Superman is a ritualized narrative concert which uses selections from Hildegard’s epic to frame the program, bridging the sometimes broad gaps in style among these contemporary pieces.

 

Since the 1970’s, Karlheinz Stockhausen (b. 1928), one of the seminal figures in 20th century music, has been working on a seven-opera cycle called LIGHT. Entrance and Formula (1978) comes from the first completed opera, Thursday (each opera is named for a day of the week). The trumpeter enters the performance space in the first part of the piece, playing fragments of the ‘Formula’, Stockhausen’s name for the themes he uses in the opera. In the second half, having assumed his place, he performs the Formula for Thursday. As diverse as LIGHT’s musical language is, its construction is just as compact. The Formula heard here is one of three that form the bedrock of the complete cycle, and almost every musical moment can be traced from these themes.

 

Giacinto Scelsi (1905-1988) was an Italian aristocrat who, after a nervous breakdown, wrote ascetic music that tended to focus on the potential of limited sonorities, most infamously in his orchestral suite Four Pieces (for one note). His improvisations, while in a trance-like state, on the piano or Ondiola would become the basis for his compositions. The suite of pieces for trumpet, from 1956, do not possess the same imaginative command of the instrument that his string and piano writing does, but they do mark a bold step forward for the trumpet repertoire.

 

ANALOG member Johnny Chang's (b. 1979) Microscores Project has been running since 2001, yielding loads of wonderful music, none of which is intended to exceed thirty seconds. Canadian expatriate Chiyoko Szlavnics' submission calls for a single sustained glissando. Pauline Oliveros’ microscore was written on a flight to Eugene, Oregon, and asks the performers to express “joy, hope, energy, love, and awe by trembling, vibrating, flickering, fleeting, sustaining”.

 

Upper Lip Dance (1983) is the obbligato from Lucifer’s Dance in Saturday, the second opera from LIGHT to be completed. The piece makes full use of the instrument as it illustrates the archangel Michael's protest against Lucifer. The trumpet bleats, hisses, whispers, and growls, using all of the Devil's tricks against him. With the wa-wa mute, the Devil’s slippery tongue is imitated with a logorrheic flow of nonsensical syllables. In the central cadenza, the performer assumes aposture of subjugation (a favorite trick of the Devil), and at the piece’s end, the performer leaves the stage, unbowed and undefeated. Neither Michael nor Lucifer ever achieve a decisive victory in LICHT.

In 1997, the English rock band Radiohead went on tour in support of their breakthrough album OK Computer and, as documented in the film Meeting People Is Easy, the tour quickly became a ‘miserable pilgrimage,’ particularly for Thom Yorke whose pain was most directly expressed in the song “How to Disappear Completely”, which would appear on their 2000 album Kid A. Yorke explains:

 

“That song is about the whole period of time that OK Computer was happening...Something snapped in me. I just said, ‘That’s it. I can’t take it anymore’. And more than a year later, we were still on the road. I hadn’t had time to address things. The lyrics came from something Michael Stipe [from R.E.M.] said to me. I rang him and said, ‘I cannot cope with this’. And he said, ‘Pull the shutters down and keep saying, ‘I'm not here, this is not happening’.”

 

Symphony (1962) is a fluxus piece by George Brecht, which consists only of the title printed on an index card with a hole punched through its center. In 2005, Johnny Chang completed a realization of the piece which calls for performers to assemble excerpts from the symphonic scores of various female composers, including Hildegard, whose most widely known musical work is Symphonia armonie celestium revelationum . Fragments of Hildegard's Symphonia have been assembled on a tape collage. As the audience passes the tape recorder to their neighbor, they are offering a variation on the original meaning of the word ‘symphony’, and sounding together Brecht’s piece.

 

Johnny Chang composed DUEOL for Joseph Drew to perform on any instrument and it is receiving its world premiere tonight. Johnny writes about his piece:

 

DUEOL refers to various dualities which surface when the performer interacts with the composition: Performing & Creating; Composed Sound & Intuitive Sound; Performer & Themselves; Open Score & Closed Score; Performer & Composer; Sound & Silence.

 

These situations are fused into one when the performer is presenting the piece. DUEOL is not intended to provide solutions, instead staging a public forum for discussion and debate on the matters at hand.

 

While scoring the video installation He Was a Poet, Istvan B’Racz (b. 1966) asked Joe Drew to provide some prepared trumpet samples for him to use in the soundtrack. As a preparation, B’Racz requested that all the slides be removed from the trumpet, and the resulting sound so captivated him that he wrote a solo piece for Drew. Four In Stance (2006) is a collection of four brief sketches that explore the mysterious sonic properties of the slideless trumpet.

 

“O Superman” (1981) remains one of the most unlikely hits in history. Laurie Anderson's (b. 1947) electronic classic is a portrait of the inescapably fragmented identity of a modern female, and ANALOG’s treatment uses the minimalist gestures of the song to construct an improvisation piece à la Terry Riley. Anderson's titular evocation of Nietzsche's übermensch 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, and strikingly parallel to Hildegard’s own symbology.

 

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." The closing juxtaposition of these two pieces brings these two female voices, separated by some 1800 years, into a harmony by proximity, the only true consonance left in the world.

 

And so the Devil is vanquished from the arena, but just. For all his tricks and protestations, the fabric of seemingly contradictory Virtues have kept the Soul safe from the Devil’s advances. -- Rene Edmunds

 

LIBRETTO

Patriarchs and Prophets

Who are these, who come like clouds?

 

Virtues

O ancient holy ones, what makes you wonder at us?

The word of God becomes clear in the form of a man,

and therefore we shine with him, edifying the members of his glorious body.

 

The Soul

Hasten and help me, so that I can stand firm.

 

Virtues, to the Soul

O soul, created by the will of God, O instrument of happiness,

why do you trouble yourself so much against that which God in the virgin nature destroyed?

By your aid you must overcome the Devil.

 

The Loud Voice of the Devil to the Soul

Foolish! Foolish! What do you gain by exerting yourself in vain?

Turn your attention to the world and it will embrace you with great honor.

 

Virtues

[Choir I]

O bewailing loudly is this voice of great sorrow.

[Tutti]

O! O!

[Choir II]

A wonderful victory has arisen in the marvelous desire of God,

in which the delight of the flesh secretly concealed itself. Alas!

[Tutti]

Alas!

[Choir I]

Where the will knew no fault, And where the desire of man fled lust.

[Tutti]

Lament, lament then in these things, Innocence,

you who did not give up your integrity in your decent modesty,

and you who did not eat up the old serpent's greed of the throat there.

 

The Devil

What is this power, that no one can be beyond God? But I say:

Whoever wishes to follow me and my will, I will give him all things.

You indeed have nothing among your possessions, which you can give, because none of you know what you are.

 

Humility

I and my companions know well that you are that old dragon,

who wished to fly above the highest but God himself threw you into the abyss.

 

Virtues

We, however, all have our dwelling on high.

 

Humility

I, Humility, queen of the Virtues, say:

Come to me, Virtues, and I will nourish you to search for the lost drachma,

and to crown the one who happily perseveres.

 

Innocence
Flee, you sheep, from the filth of the Devil!

Virtues
If you help us, we will flee filth.

 

Contempt of the World
I, Contempt of the World, am the brightness of life.
O miserable pilgrimage on earth, with many labors, I send you forth.
O Virtues, come to me, and let us ascend to the fountain of life.

Radiohead, “How to Disappear Completely”
That there
That's not me
I go
Where I please
I walk through walls
I float down the Liffey
I'm not here
This isn't happening
I'm not here
I'm not here

In a little while
I'll be gone
The moment's already passed
Yeah it's gone
And I'm not here
This isn't happening
I'm not here
I'm not here

Strobe lights and blown speakers
Fireworks and hurricanes
I'm not here
This isn't happening
I'm not here
I'm not here

Virtues
O glorious lady, you always undertake the struggles of Christ.
O great virtue, you tread the world under your foot, whence also you dwell victoriously in heaven.

 

The Devil
You know not what you bring forth, because your womb is empty of any fair form taken from man,
wherein you transgress the command of pleasant intercourse which God commanded;
wherefore you know not what you are.

Virtues, Soul, Patriarchs and Prophets, and Souls Imprisoned in Bodies
In the beginning all creatures grew and flourished, in the middle time flowers bloomed;
afterwards the bloom of the green grew brown.
And this man, a jouster, saw and said:
This I know, but the golden number is not yet full.
You therefore, mirror of the Father, Behold, in my body
I sustain a weariness, my little ones also fall off.

 

Laurie Anderson - O Superman (For Massenet)
O Superman. O judge. O Mom and Dad.
O Superman. O judge. O Mom and Dad.
Hi. I'm not home right now. But if you want to leave a message, just start talking at the sound of the tone.
Hello? This is your Mother. Are you there?
Are you coming home?
Hello? Is anybody home? Well, you don't know me, but I know you.
And I've got a message to give to you.
Here come the planes.
So you better get ready. Ready to go. You can come as you are, but pay as you go. Pay as you go.
And I said: OK. Who is this really?

And the voice said:
This is the hand, the hand that takes. This is the hand, the hand that takes.
This is the hand, the hand that takes.
Here come the planes.
They're American planes. Made in America.
Smoking or non-smoking?
And the voice said: Neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night shall stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
'Cause when love is gone, there's always justice.
And when justice is gone, there's always force.
And when force is gone, there's always Mom.
Hi Mom!
So hold me, Mom, in your long arms.
So hold me, Mom, in your long arms.
In your automatic arms. Your electronic arms.
In your arms.
So hold me, Mom, in your long arms.
Your petrochemical arms. Your military arms.
In your electronic arms.

Virtues, Soul, Patriarchs and Prophets, and Souls Imprisoned in Bodies
Now be mindful, because the fullness which was made in the beginning
ought not to run dry, and then you had in yourself, that your eye should never yield
until you might see my body full of buds [jewels].
For it wearies me, so that all my members become a mockery.
Father, see, I show my wounds to you.
Therefore now, all men bend your knees to your Father so that he may reach out his hand to you.