Wind Ensemble, Voice, Electric Guitar and Laptop
Mercury on the Moon is a “concept” symphony. Like a concept album, each element of this work contributes to an overall theme or story. Fear and the hate that generates from fear is the apex of this large work for the wind band. I have discovered that throughout my own life experiences and observations that most of the destructive forces in human culture stem from fear. In this work I use some examples of text and music that I have created to weave a path through fear and hate in hopes of illuminating and igniting conversations and awareness.
Mercury is the cantor or messenger for the entire composition. The inspiration of epic concept albums like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, and the haunting wide range of Freddie Mercury’s (Queen) voice and the mythological Mercury who was a messenger who wore winged sandals inspired the title of this work. The image of Mercury helplessly standing on the moon watching mankind destroy itself with fear and hate is the central concept of this work.
Prelude introduces the main images to this composition. Religion has arguably caused almost every war in history and many of these religions are introduced in a collage of textures in this prelude and in other movements. Muslim prayer calls, Jewish Shofar, and Christian and satanic masses are woven throughout the prelude.
Censored is inspired by my own experiences with groups of the recent past who banned books, poems, music, authors etc. where I grew up in the south. Banned books based on race, homosexuality, historical and cultural meanings empowered these mostly religious organizations. But the fear of understanding things that are not like themselves perpetuate the hatred toward the creators.
“Fear Always Springs Ignorance”---Ralph Waldo Emerson
What They Call Me is a story of a young man sent to a “pray the gay away” program and deals with the intolerance to homosexuality. The son is singing to his father asking for an unconditional, Agape love only to find himself falling into a deep state of depression and eventually suicide. This movement text paints an image of death by using the downward motive of Dido’s Lament. Each chorus the tenor sings longer durations until all breath is gone.
“Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood.---Coretta Scott King
“almost every war has been at least indirectly caused by religious belief.”---Richard Dawkins
Ketchak is a form of Balinese dance and has roots in sanghyang, a sacred, trance-inducing exorcism dance based on the idea that a force enters the body of an entranced performer. The sanghyang dances are considered sacred ritual dances in Hindu Balinese religious events.
“A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.”---Mahatma Gandhi
Mrs. B is about loneliness and the forgotten. Eighty-year old Mrs. B. walked her elderly dog, her only family she had left, with me every day. When her dog died, she passed away the next day.
“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”---Maya Angelou
Suicide in C
“The thing I remember about him is the deathly grey complexion of his cheeks. It wasn’t an act of will for Kurt (Cobain) to kill himself. As far as I was concerned, he was dead already.” William Burroughs
Film at Eleven is about the constant bombardment of the news media and talk shows. The text in this poem are all from news stories from the 90’s to the present.
“The media's the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”---Malcolm X
“Who sees all beings in his own self, and his own self in all beings, loses all fear.”---Isa Upanishad, Hindu Scripture