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The Making of an Opera

Monty at table

Monty Joynes

The writing of the lyric poetry that is the libretto of an opera is a major work of artistic endeavor.  The libretto tells a dramatic story that will be sung by vocal artists in arias, duets, quartets, and choruses accompanied by a symphony orchestra in a setting that challenges the decorative staging arts. The librettist can only imagine the performance of his operatic creation, but unless a gifted composer is attracted to the work, it will never soar off the page. If an opera libretto takes a year to write before a composer is engaged, what is the scope of the collaboration as the music takes shape as a score?  Here’s my story of the making of an opera.

 

My entry into classical music as a librettist began with the lyric poetry of an oratorio titled The Awakening of Humanity based on the metaphysical journey of American Indians in my five Booker Series novels. Composer Edmund Barton “Bart” Bullock, after reading my novels, suggested our collaboration and began the oratorio score in 2008. Its first two movements were performed three times in 2015 in France where he lives and works as a composer and concert pianist. The world premiere of the completed work is being planned for 2019. The Awakening of Humanity has gone through four revisions that required me to rewrite lyrics to better serve the music.  These revisions required Bart to make annual trips from France to my home in North Carolina where we collaborated side by side.

07 With composer Edmund Barton Bullock (2016)

 

When I realized that I could write for classical music and work in this challenging medium, I set out to write an opera libretto adapted from Save the Good Seed, the third novel in my Booker Series.  The drama of the novel concerned the forced adoption of a Pueblo Indian child by an Anglo couple and his return as an adult to his New Mexico birth tribe to seek his true identity. It took a full year to learn the structural form of opera and to write the lyric poetry of the three-act libretto.  The composer of my oratorio liked the opera libretto, but he was years away from completing our project and other commissions to consider composing it.  And so the Save the Good Seed libretto remained on the shelf as I went on to write and publish books. Save the Good Seed cover 2

I had established a friendship with Dawn Bailiff during annual reunions staged by our mutual publisher Bob Friedman (Hampton Roads Publishing) at his home in Faber, Virginia. I knew that Dawn had been a concert pianist prodigy who had made a world performance tour at the age of eighteen. She had performed with the world’s most renowned conductors and symphony orchestras. Unknown to me at the time, her composer credits included the libretto and score for an opera in German that was staged in the major German opera houses. Dawn’s heritage is German-Japanese, and she is fluent in five languages. (She is a great conversationalist!)  Tragically, at the height of her amazing classical music career, Dawn was struck down by Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

 

When Dawn was seated next to me at our annual luncheon at the historic Michie Tavern near Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, I mentioned the recent completion of my opera libretto. She asked to read it, and I sent it to her the following week. I was amazed by her response when she asked me to assign it to her for composition. In my respect and affection for Dawn, I agreed; but as her struggle with MS was too often critical, I realized that I could not pressure her in our collaboration.

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There was also the problem of Dawn not having access to the computers and software used by contemporary composers. The investment would cost thousands of dollars that neither of us could afford. Dawn supported herself in those days by teaching advanced piano students. Later she would become an Adjunct Professor of London’s Royal Conservatory of Music. The RCM holds summer workshops in cities across the United States for gifted young talent.

Somewhere around mid-2015, Dawn advised me that she had acquired the electronic tools for composing . She was too busy to elaborate. She has never been chatty in her infrequent emails, so I sent congratulations and hoped for progress on our opera. Two years later, in May 2017, Dawn sent me a shocking email after I had requested an “annual” update.Sunroom and Smoke

After months of silence she wrote, “I have completed the music for Seed and copyrighted it so please don’t bring in another composer on that opera. It is already written. Just waiting for an opportunity to record.”  There was a catch. She did not want me to hear the score until we could hear it together. She would travel to Boone, North Carolina, my home, as soon as her RCM workshop season was over.

Watch for updates on this blog as Save the Good Seed, the opera, progresses on the road to performance. To understand the great honor of having Dawn Bailiff compose my opera libretto, take a look at her resume.

Dawn BailiffDawn Bailiff was hailed by Leonard Bernstein for the “veracity . . . and sublimity of her artistry,” when she was just ten years old.  Formerly a world-class concert pianist, Bailiff has become a translator, professor, inspirational speaker, disability advocate, and author (Notes from a Minor Key—a Memoir of Music, Love, and Healing) since her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.

For more than a decade, Bailiff soloed with most of the major symphonies and philharmonics on five continents, including Berlin, Vienna, Prague, London, Tokyo, Chicago, and Los Angeles, with such notable maestros as Leonard Bernstein, Carlo Maria Giulini, Eugene Ormandy, and Sir Georg Solti.

As a composer, her works have received numerous performances by: Austin Symphony, Minnesota Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Internationale Junge Orchestra Akademie  (Bayreuth), Wroclaw Chamber Orchestra (SW Poland on the Oder River), Quintessence Chamber Ensemble  (Phoenix, AZ), and Cimarron Circuit Opera Company (Norman, OK).

Her opera, Anblicke des Himmels und der Hölle (for which she wrote the libretto in German) was performed as a collaborative effort between major opera companies in Berlin, Dresden, and Stuttgart.

At the age of eighteen, Bailiff toured thirty-two cities in six months, playing in such exotic locations as Bayreuth, Wurzburg, Wroclaw, Istanbul, Hong Kong, and Seoul.

Both she and her music have been featured on North German Radio (NDR) in Hamburg, Czech-Slovak Radio (CSR) in Bratislava, BBC World Service Radio, CBC Radio Canada, CTV (Canada), YTV (Canada), Good Morning Canada, A.M.Philadelphia, Good Morning America, and National Public Radio (WHYY).

Fluent in five languages and competent in several others, Dawn Bailiff has worked as both a translator and Internet marketing consultant for Fortune 500 companies, as well as an academic translator of Rudolph Steiner, G.W. F. Hegel, and Martin Heidegger. She has also been a successful journalist, technical writer, banking officer, college professor, and small business owner. Bailiff holds an undergraduate degree in music from the esteemed Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, as well as graduate degrees from the University of Vienna, Austria. She is also the author of Using Music to Teach Math, Foreign Language, and Technical Skills—Incorporating the Anthroposophic Principles of Rudoph Steiner (written in German).  Bailiff ’s most recent translation credit is Cosmic Ordering: The Next Adventure by Barbel Mohr.

 

 

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Billy Joel: A Tribute

billy-joel-cover-1One of the greatest troubadours of my generation is Billy Joel, a poet and musician of genius, who shared his deepest emotions, and ours, over a lifetime of joys and tears. He is much more than a pop icon. He is the chronicler of an age in American life.

In one of my unpublished novels, Strange & Modern Phobias, two psychiatrists speculate on the psychiatric merits of Billy Joel’s greatest hits. It was my way of paying tribute to him. Here is the excerpt.

Albert Drexle had different tastes in music; and throughout their medical school and residency years together (the mid-1970s into the 1980s); Albert was fixated on the genius of rock and roller Billy Joel, whom he celebrated as the most psychologically aware troubadour of their generation. Rooming with Albert necessitated cohabitation with the albums of Billy Joel and enthusiastic lectures on how the composer’s lyrics were more meaningful to the listening public than any of the therapies that they were being taught as clinicians.

Bernie remembered Albert saying, “If we can learn to be as keen an observer of the human condition as Billy Joel, we have the possibility of being good doctors.”

Bernie heard the Billy Joel songs so often in Albert’ s presence that he learned the melodies and the lyrics by repetitive osmosis, but he never more than politely acknowledged that such music had lasting social value, or that it could affect the behaviors of anyone with more than sentimental emotion. Poet-musicians were entertainers, not philosophers, in Bernie’s reckoning.

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To counter Albert’s insistence on the loud sublimity of rock and roll, Bernie substituted albums by Jean-Pierre Rampal, the French flute king, and the piano records of Ferrante and Teicher and Peter Nero. These Albert would tolerate, plus any flute album by Herbie Mann in the jazz idiom. Thus a musical modus vivendi was achieved in their shared environment.

In recalling Albert’s insistence on the psychological insights of Billy Joel, Bernie decided to re-visit the entertainer’s greatest hits; and, on impulse, he saw one of the ubiquitous block-size, everything-you-want-twenty-four-hours-a-day marts and went in to purchase a CD. He had not gone into such a store during his married life since they were considered so déclassé in Joyce’s social league. The hour was late; but there were customers, maybe second-shift workers from the few remaining cotton mills that produced sheets and socks and jeans for someone other than the block-sized chain marts that got their cotton goods from factories in places like Mexico and Hong Kong. The shoppers looked tired, and they were price conscious about everything because they had to in the blue-collar rank to which they were assigned. They looked at Bernie passing in his $2,000 suit and his $300 shoes, and he could see the question in their eyes, “What the hell is he doing here?”

The city block under a single roof store was divided into departments, but the aisles were not laid out in a grid. They were mazelike so that people would get lost among the high shelves of merchandise and feel the impulse to buy their way out. Bernie wandered through the necessary, but mostly unnecessary, junk of American civilization and felt claustrophobic as the stuff surrounded him, confined him, and threatened to claim him as a helpless shopper and gnaw at his wallet.

billy-joel-greatest-hits-vol-1-2Finally, he found the music department and was informed by the signage that the mart chain was the largest seller of tapes and CDs in the known universe. Of course, they had a CD copy of Billy Joel, Greatest Hits, Volume I and Volume II. Bernie renegotiated the maze back to the front of the store and paid cash for the CD to a sad-eyed cashier, a woman with white hair, who would have preferred to spend her retirement at home but couldn’t because of the cost of her husband’s medications, so she had to work (nights was all she could get) just enough hours to be legally part-time so the mart wouldn’t have to provide health benefits, but that’s the way it goes these days. The cashier told Bernie this while she rang up the register, made change, and put his CD into a plastic bag—all this in response to his simple rhetorical question, “How are you tonight?”

It was after midnight when Bernie reached his assigned space in the downtown parking garage. He wanted to play the Billy Joel CD before nervously trotting the half-block to the gothic apartment tower where he temporarily resided, but first he had to pee. The garage level where he parked exhibited no traffic, so Bernie dared to do what had previously been unthinkable. He exited his car, walked to a convenient cement pillar, and relieved himself hard and pooling where cultured men should not go. The zipping up was not without a sense of reckless enjoyment, but Bernie wondered if his urine would stink with the sunrise and be blamed on some homeless man seeking refuge from the rain.

Since Bernie had identified no CD player in the penthouse shrine to the 1920s, and his Mercedes had a state-of-the-art sound system, Bernie fed the new CD into the slot, locked the car doors, reclined the power driver’s seat, and settled his nerves for the shock of Billy Joel’s rock and roll therapy. Bernie tried not to anticipate the music. His intent was to have it roll over him like a memory-bearing wave that somehow contained the psychological insight that Albert had touted.

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The first cut was Piano Man, a song that described a bar scene peopled with disillusioned characters who were revealed in terse verses by the piano man who recognizes the loneliness of crowded places where people gather to escape the perceived failures of their lives. The tempo of the song was upbeat, but the lyrics captured a sadness inherent in many modern lives. Yes, Bernie had to agree—Piano Man was an accurate psychological assessment of bar flies.

“Congratulations, kid,” Bernie said, like one of the inebriants dropping a dollar bill into the piano man’s tip jar, “you summed it up better than a psych grad’s master thesis.”

Say Goodbye to Hollywood contained a line that said goodbye to his “baby,” and that reminder annoyed Bernie. New York State of Mind was a song about returning to a person’s roots, to one’s own reality after being out of touch. Bernie, however, was unable to conjure up the same sentimentality for Baltimore and a neighborhood that he knew he would not recognize should he ever return there.

The next cut, The Stranger, was what Albert consideredbilly-joel-the-stranger a psychological epic. The lyrics were about the secrets of inner life, the self a person conceals even from a lover. Bernie could hear Albert’s commentary. “The secret self is about unfulfilled desires, things that we are afraid to reveal to each other. Our lover leaves us, and we can’t understand why. It’s not why! It’s who! On some levels we can’t communicate, so we will always be strangers to each other. And that’s how psychiatrists make a living—we bridge the gap. Billy Joel was right on. Hell, we hardly know the stranger in our self.”

“Oh, thanks,” Bernie said sarcastically to both Albert and Billy Joel. “Great analysis, but what’s the solution?”

The following cut seemed to provide a partial answer. Just The Way You Are was about relationship, acceptance, and commitment through good times and bad. The lyrical saxophone break provided moments for reflection, and Bernie recalled that he had often had to work at conversations with Joyce so as not to push her Southern panic buttons about race and class and the Democratic Party. In many ways, Bernie decided, Joyce had not been easy to talk to.

Before Bernie’s thoughts became too specific, the rush of Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song) overtook him. The song was about expectations vs. reality. In summing up what the songwriter observes from a working-class perspective, he asks, is that all we get from a lifetime of effort? His response is to roar away on a motorcycle rather than conform to so dismal a future. Bernie recognized the syndrome. Working-class kids witnessed the struggle of their parents living from payday to payday, and they rebelled. They wanted the lifestyle that they saw advertised on television, and they saw that obtaining it had nothing to do with social or moral virtues.

The teenage rebellion theme was repeated in Only The Good Die Young, that Bernie recalled as having been banned by the Catholic Church, and My Life, which became an anthem of the youth culture. Bernie drifted in attention through four other cuts that had imbedded messages relevant to his circumstances, but he missed them. Then the staccato beat of Pressure pounded him back on point.

billyjoelpressure

“Right,” Bernie said into the sound waves, “I’ve got all the advantages, but I still can’t deal with pressure. So what’s the benefit of a protected life of privilege and some ritualistic faith if you cannot deal with pressure?”

Pressure was one of Albert’s favorite diagnostic songs. Bernie supposed that Albert even played the song for certain dysfunctional patients as a kind of wake-up call to treatment. Bernie had given Albert a wooden sign long ago for his birthday. The lettering was deeply routed into the wood like an old-fashioned doctor’s shingle. The lettering read: Drexel and Joel, Rock & Roll Psychotherapy. It was given as a joke; but Albert beamed instead of laughed, and, to Bernie’s chagrin, the damn sign hung prominently in his office ever since.

billy-joel-allentownAllentown was another Billy Joel composition that Albert considered worthy of a graduate degree in either sociology or psychology. The song correctly encapsulated the failed promise of The American Dream for the children of WWII-era working-class parents. The post-war was industrial collapse, the loss of blue-collar jobs, and the resulting clinical depression was artistically rendered. Bernie did not treat these people because generally, they could not afford psychiatrists, and that reality forced Bernie to realize how disconnected he was from most of the working population of the country, how far removed he was from the desperate old woman cashier at the everything mart.

The following cut further isolated Bernie. It was another bit of Billy Joel genius that took the complex Vietnam experience and made it real and moving in less than five minutes. Bernie had avoided the draft and Vietnam combat by becoming a doctor. He had remained deferred until the war was over; but he had treated some of the inmates from that asylum and seen the consequences of their unnatural push into adulthood and horror, but Bernie had not experienced their bitterness, their loss. He had separated himself from his own generation, a generation going down into chaos together; and if he wept, he wept as an outsider to their torments.

Tell Her About It was a painful cut for Bernie to listen to billy-joel-tell-her-about-it
because it underscored his communication problems with Joyce. In the beginning of their courtship and marriage, he had told her his career dreams and his hopes for a cultured lifestyle; but as their life settled into the seamless routine of their class, what was left to share about feelings and emotions except their critiques of the performance arts?

Uptown Girl and The Longest Time played while Bernie tried to identify the moment of disconnect with Joyce. When had their respective appointment books rescheduled their intimacy into a ritual that mimicked obligatory church going? Why had the two of them settled for a closed provincial culture? Wasn’t their refusal to live in the greater society a kind of self-proclaimed aristocracy? In their rejection of modernity and all its underclass problems, hadn’t they just pretended that underclass desperation and criminality was not happening? And in building walls against contact with the great masses of the unwanted, had they not also walled themselves way from their own emotional sensitivity? The analytical questions continued until Bernie heard the familiar opening bars of You’re Only Human (Second Wind), a song that Albert swore by.

billy-joel-youre-only-humanAlbert considered that the Second Wind song provided excellent advice to patients suffering from depression due to feelings of inadequacy. The lyrics acknowledged the presence of heartbreak depression, but it then affirmed the arrival of a second wind and urged the listener to hang on. The song was both empathetic and encouraging to sufferers of a circumstantial depression, as differentiated from clinical depression such as a bi-polar disorder that requires drug therapy. Since many patients consulted psychiatrists for circumstantial, temporary disorders, Albert felt that the Billy Joel song had positive therapeutic value. Bernie, as a psychiatric resident student, thought that rock and roll had no place in the delivery of mental health services. Listening to the message of the song, locked in his car in a parking garage well after midnight, however, Bernie underwent a change of opinion.

billy-joel-the-night-is-still-young

The last cut on the Greatest Hits album was The Night Is Still Young; and although young people probably thought that the song was about sexual endurance, Bernie took it to mean that his life was not over at age fifty-five. But what next? This life as lived in Charlotte was over. He might continue the practice of psychiatry, but the comfort zone of country club connections and charity board networking among the deranged of high society was lost to him. Joyce and her cache of elitists would see to that. Consulting Dr. Selkin would no longer be fashionable. He would be so “last year,” so unpardonable, as if he had driven Joyce into the arms of Marcel Swann with a bullwhip. Her story, told to intimates in powder room whispers, would be a Faulknerian doozy that implied a hidden darkness of character that made life with Bernie sound like a slow ride through a carnival horror show.”

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Bob Dylan, Rejected

bob_dylan_-_bob_dylanIt was a Sunday afternoon at a University of Virginia fraternity house located in a cluster of frat houses that overlooked an intramural field depression known as “Mad Bowl” when I met Bob Dylan and witnessed him rejected as a folk singer and song writer.

The year was 1961, and Dylan had been brought to the fraternity house by folk singer, folklorist, and mentor Paul Clayton who had friends there. Clayton was a UVA grad with a master’s degree in folklore. Since the mid-1950s, Clayton had traveled the Southern Appalachian Highlands in search of traditional folksongs that were in danger of extinction. As a scholar and archivist, he recorded these treasures on site and then sang many of them himself on 21 albums released between 1954 and 1965. In folk music circles from New York City to Los Angeles, Paul Clayton was a prominent figure in the folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960s.

paul-claytonClayton’s purpose on that Sunday afternoon was to have newcomer Bob Dylan and recorded folk singer Carolyn Hester sing a few songs as a measure of their live performance abilities. It was easy to pull the frat boys away from the ball game on television once they got an introduction to Carolyn Hester. She was 24 years old at the time and Hollywood gorgeous. Hester had already released two albums and was being compared to folk music star Joan Baez. Clayton was helping her with her live performance guitar playing, which was weak at the time. Hester stood against the living room wall and performed two unremembered songs. Her singing was strong and beautiful, but she missed some chords in the accompaniment.

Clayton then encouraged the shy, downcast, tousle headed, disheveled 20-year-old Bob Dylan to uncase his guitar and sing a couple of his original songs. Perhaps in over 50 years of retrospect it is wishful thinking, but I swear that one of the songs that he performed was “Blowin’ in the Wind.”  Although Dylan would become “the voice of his generation,” his singing voice has been described as, “raw, seemingly untrained, and frankly a nasal voice” by Joyce Carol Oates among others. Dylan was also accused of imitating Woody Guthrie’s earthy vocal mannerisms which were also termed “iconoclastic baying.”

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Mad Bowl, UVA

The frat boys that Sunday found Dylan’s singing to be both incomprehensible and downright irritating.  Someone turned the television set back on to the ball game, and there were insincere smiles and gestures that communicated to the performers that their leave taking was in order. Clayton’s fraternity friend made an awkward apology as the three folk singers exited the scene of their embarrassment.

Soon after the fraternity house debacle, Carolyn Hestercarolyn-hester invited Bob Dylan to play harmonica on sessions for her third album at Columbia Records.  At a rehearsal session, Dylan met celebrated record producer John Hammond who signed him to a recording contract. Dylan’s first album on Columbia Records was released on March 19, 1962. The album made a great impression in the folk music community, but it was not commercially successful.

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Dylan’s second album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, released in May 1963, however, featured “Blowin’ in the Wind” as its first cut. If Dylan could not make his songs famous, then cover groups like Peter, Paul and Mary, The Byrds, Sonny and Cher, The Hollies, and many others could. The Beatles themselves reported listening to the Freewheelin’ album until they wore it out.

Since being rejected by the UVA frat boys in 1961, Bob Dylan has sold more than 100 million records. No songwriter, past or present, has received so many awards and honors.  A partial list includes The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (1991), The Kennedy Center Honor (1997), an Academy Award Oscar for Best Song (2001), the Pulitzer Prize (2008), the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2012), and the Nobel Prize for Literature (2016).

There are perhaps a dozen men now into their 70s who may remember Bob Dylan from their fraternity house encounter in 1961. Fortunately, their rejection of the young artist did not kill his creative spirit. What if they had encouraged him? No telling to what heights he might have risen then.

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The Celestine Prophecy Connection

Bart and Monty reviewing music and lyrics for THE AWAKENING OF HUMANITY oratorio

When James Redfield made the concept of synchronicity clear in his novel The Celestine Prophecy, people all over the world began to recognize it in their personal lives.  The ostensibly chance meeting between a classical music composer and me is a great example of synchronicity at work to achieve significant results.  In the summer of 2006 a native North Carolina composer and concert pianist named Edmund Barton (Bart) Bullock, who has lived in France since 1978, was staying in a donated mountain cottage near Boone to practice his piano concerto for scheduled concerts in 2007.

A reader of The Celestine Prophecy, Bart felt a sudden and strong urge to obtain a copy of the film adapted from the book.  A few nights after the viewing the movie, he was at a dinner party where he described the unusual urge to his tablemates.  One of them told Bart that he had recently been on a quiet Blue Ridge Parkway hiking trail when he encountered an acquaintance, Pat Joynes.  In the brief conversation, Pat mentioned that her husband (me) had his book The Celestine Prophecy: The Making of the Movie published. He told Bart that I lived in the area and that an introduction could be made to bring us together.

Telephone conversations led to informal dinner parties where Bart played his Appalachian Concerto privately for us.  Then Pat and I attended a summer concert where Bart performed his own compositions with a chamber group, and we obtained copies of his CDs.  In turn, Bart read my four Booker Series novels and the Celestine movie book.

By early 2007 Bart and I felt that the synchronicity of our meeting should lead to a classical music collaboration.  We decided on the form of an oratorio for four featured soloists, chorus, and symphony orchestra.  I went to the Hayes School of Music library at Appalachian State University to study the libretti of oratorios; and by December 2007, I had written the libretto for The Awakening of Humanity in six movements.

In early 2010 the Western Piedmont Symphony Orchestra and the Hickory Chorale Society became the initial financial supporters for Bart to compose our oratorio.  Public arts agencies and private donors would make up the balance of the commission, and our premiere target date was April 2012.  And then the recession decapitated the arts funding agencies, and all the commissioning support that we anticipated disappeared.  Nevertheless, Bart completed the first two movements of our oratorio, and the music was wonderful.

Bart returned to the US from France twice to work through lyric changes in the second movement, and I had to rewrite entire passages of the poetry to fit Bart’s music.  Trust me, I never felt so inadequate in my writing life; but through Bart’s patience and encouragement, I actually improved on the libretto.  I also learned that poetic meter on the page is not the same as beats in a piece of choral and solo voice music.

With the libretto and the music for the first two movements available to share, Bart’s colleagues in France rallied to support the completion of the oratorio and its ultimate performance.  The Toulouse Conservatory of Music, a center for classical music in France and all of Europe, endorsed our oratorio project and offered an exchange of musicians and singers with an American music school to facilitate its performance.  The emerging possibility is for as many as three performances in France at world-class venues and two performances in the US.  The Franco-American cultural exchange, however, will again depend on financial underwriting by both institutional and private sources so that Bart can complete the composition.  The hope is for a full score by June 2012 with orchestrations soon to follow, and a premiere and subsequent performances in February and March 2013.

Pat and I are among those who consider Bart a musical genius as a composer and as a pianist.  You can see and hear him play his own compositions with symphony orchestras, chamber ensembles, and in solo recitals at www.edmundbartonbullock.com.

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Bart and Monty

 

2016 Update

When the funding for The Awakening of Humanity dried up, Bart returned to concert performing and commissioned composing, and I wrote two books that were published in 2014 and 2015. There was, however, interest in the completed score of the first two movements, and they were performed three times (January and July 2015) in France by the Ensemble Vocal Unité under the artistic direction of Christian Nadalet. A professional DVD of one of the concerts was made with subtitles in both English and French. It can be seen and heard here.

Bart continues to be recognized as a significant composer. In 2014, the Danish Royal Family commissioned Bart to compose and perform a song cycle based on the Prince Consort’s poetry. In 2015, Bart completed a Te Deum commissioned by the Catholic Church that will be premiered with an 80-voice choir on April 17, 2016, in the cathedral at Auch, France.

Interest in performing the completed oratorio, The Awakening of Humanity, has been expressed in both France and the United States. The orchestras and choruses, however, while willing to underwrite the performances, do not have the resources to commission the final four movements and its orchestrations. Bart and Monty need funding for a six-month period that can be entirely devoted to completing the work. They hope that patron support and participation in 2016 will allow them to complete the oratorio and schedule premiere performances in both the United States and France in 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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