A Carnival of Miracles
A Carnival of Miracles was composed for the female vocal quartet Anonymous 4 and was commissioned by the WNYC Foundation. Scored for 4 women's voices and 2 cellos, its overall theme is different kinds of freedoms: religious, scientific, artistic, cultural, sexual, and political.
The texts are taken from numerous sources and range from the 4th century through the 20th. They include such unlikely sources as an ancient text from a Nag Hammadi codex; the United States Supreme Court; the Marquis de Sade; the first female U.S. Presidential candidate; Beethoven; Galileo; and a Nobel-Prize-winning Polish Poet.
Some of these freedoms are laudatory, others perhaps disturbing, still others absurd. The work explores the ambiguous notion of freedom, a word whose meaning is, even in a free society, poorly understood. While unified harmonically and rhythmically, each movement is quite different in sound, texture, and, especially, vocal treatment. The title refers to the medieval idea of Carnival, a time when the social order is ritually upended and all is allowed.
Enigma (spiritual freedoms) is extracted from an incantation found in the Nag Hammadi codices from the beginning of the Common Era (C.E.) compiled in the 4th century.
The Scientist (scientific freedoms) is a single sentence which Galileo is said to have murmured after he was forced by Church authorities to deny that the Earth traveled around the Sun.
The Genius (artistic freedoms) is drawn from Beethovens asinine response to criticism of his string writing.
The Court (freedom of speech) consists of excerpts from two Supreme Court decisions written by Judges Learned Hand and Oliver Wendell Holmes. Until the final section, the words are "freed" from their original meanings and recombined. The opening gesture answers the question often posed to free speech advocates: Does "freedom of speech" give one the right to shout "Fire!" in a public auditorium?"
Mrs. Satan and the Divine Marquis (sexual freedoms) combines texts by Victoria Woodhull, a 19th century feminist, with some remarkably similar (and characteristic) excerpts from the 18th century libertine, the Marquis de Sade.
Miracle Fair is taken from the magnificent 1986 poem of the same name by the Nobel Laureate Wizslawa Szymborska.
Thank you: John Schaefer and WNYC-FM, Anonymous 4, Adam Liptak, Nadia Margolis, Laurie Schwartz, Wislawa Szymborska, Elaine Pagels, William Meredith of the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies, San Jose State University; Jon Asgeirsson of The Institute for Antiquity and Christianity at Claremont University, Czeslaw Kochowski, Andy Cohen, Lisa Bielawa, Michelle Eaton, Karol Steadman and, of course, my wife, Amy Singer.
ntaie sa net meeue eroi
nrefsotm sotm eroi
auo mprpot nsoi mpemto nnetnbal ebol
mprr atsooun mmoei
anok gar te tsorp auo thae
anok te tporne auo tsemne
anok te tmaau nte paeiot
anok pe pkarof ete maustahof
anok te tesme ete nase pes hroou
anok pe psaje m paran
anok tentaumestos hn ma nim
mprr atsooun mmoei
I have come to those who think upon me
you hearers, hear me
and do not chase me from your sight.
Do not be ignorant of me.
For I am the first and the last
I am the whore and the holy one.
I am the mother of my father
I am the incomprehensible silence
I am the voice of many sounds.
I am the sounding of my name
I am she who has been hated everywhere
Do not be ignorant of me.
from The Thunder: Complete Mind,
eppur si muove...
And yet it moves....
Galileo Galilei, 1633
Glaubt er, daß ich an seine elende Geige denke, wenn der Geist zu mir spricht?
Does he suppose that I am thinking about his miserable violin when the spirit is speaking to me?
Ludwig van Beethoven, early 19th cent.
Every idea is an incitement.
Right conclusions are gathered out of a multitude of tongues.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Gitlow v. New York (1925); Abrams v. United States (1919)
Learned Hand, United States v. Associated Press (1943)
Je suis une amante libre.
l'action de céder à la nature,
se plaçant d'elles-mêmes au-dessus de l'usage et du préjugé, elles foulent
I am a free lover.
to change that love every day if I please
Victoria Woodhull, American feminist; first woman to hold a chair on the U.S. Stock Exchange; first female candidate for the U.S. Presidency, 1871
the act of yielding to Nature's desires, looked upon as a crime by a captive people, can no longer endure as such amongst a free people.
Placing themselves of their own free will above custom and prejudice, may [young women] boldly cast off the shameful chains with which [society] dares to subjugate them; these women will soon triumph over public mores and opinion...
The Marquis Donatien-Alphonse-François de Sade, 1795
Cud jeden z wielu:
Cud pierwszy lepszy:
Cud bez czarnego fraka i cylindra:
Cud, tylko sie rozejrzec:
Cud dodatkowy, jak dodatkowe jest wszystko:
The commonplace miracle:
One of many miracles:
A miracle in the first place:
A miracle minus top hat and tails:
A miracle, just take a look around:
An extra miracle, extra and ordinary:
Wislawa Szymborska, Polish Poet 1986