Irrefutable Tautologies

Chamber   Vocal 10:00

bass, fl(bfl), cl(bcl), bn, pf

Irrefutable Tautologies was commissioned by the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University at the suggestion of Professor Thomas Forrest Kelly to serve as the final work performed for his annual course First Nights. It was composed in Cambridge, Massachusetts and completed in November of 2014. The texts of the three movements are adapted from Shakespeare’s plays King Lear, Twelfth Night and Antony and Cleopatra.

All three texts are wonderful examples of Shakespearean tautologies, a device he used to great effect as comic relief. The music seeks to amplify the playfulness and theatricality of the text: the first movement, inspired by process music and Calder mobiles consists of seven musical “constellations,” mirroring the “seven stars” in the text. The second movement provides spotlight to four bass instruments: bass flute, bass clarinet, bassoon and bass voice, all of which are working as one block in speaking the text, and eventually morphing into an “auto-tune” version of the same spoken text. The last movement uses a melody for the ancient instrument, the serpent, as a cantus firmus, amassing to, rather than a motet, an operatic, whimsical farce.

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