HenryBrant

Rainforest

EnvironmentalSpatial Oratorio

For 4singers and 19 instrumentalists (2 conductors)

Innova413

 

Textby Abd al-Hayy Moore

 

  1. Prologue
  2. Vegetation
  3. Rain
  4. Chatter
  5. Indigenous Peoples
  6. Destruction
  7. Wasteland
  8. Epilogue

 

Commissionedby the Downtown Organization of Santa Barbara for the Eleventh Annual SantaBarbara Arts Festival, 1989.

 

Performedat Aspen Music Festival, Colorado, July 30, 1989 during the Fromm Week of NewMusic.

 

Performers(where known)

Flute(also piccolo): Sarah Pflueger

Oboe(also English Horn): Denise Kamradt:

ClarinetBb (also Clarinet Eb and Bass Clarinet with extension)

Bassoon:Eric Dirckson

 

Horn:Jennifer Harrison

Trumpet:John Dent

Trombone

 

Percussion(Drumset, 3 timpani, Glockenspiel, Vibraphone, Xylophone, 4-octave Marimba), Chimes

Harp:Gillian Benet

Piano:Elizabeth Del Felice

 

Violins:Nick Eanet, Marlissa Regni, Gabrielle Shek, Ayako Yonetani:

Violas:Nancy Obern, Anna Rogers

Cellos:Arpad Muranyl, Jonas Tauber

Bass:Stuart Sankey

 

Solo Voices

Michele Eaton: Soprano

Mary Nessinger: Mezzo-Soprano

Mark Conley: Tenor

William Riley: Baritone (principal voice part)

 

Conductors

Henry Brant

Amy Snyder

 

Inthe 19th Century composers concerned themselves significantly with theexpression of personal emotion, in centuries previous the evocation ofreligious experience commanded much of the composer's attention. For composersworking in the latter part of the 20th century, it is more difficult toidentify areas of common subject matter. In this period the increasing threatsto the terrestrial environment suggest a persuasive subject for musicalcontemplation, and the urgencies of this theme might well become a dominatingimpulse in the music of the final years of the Second Millennium. –HB

 


1.PROLOGUE

 

Weare the rainforest

Ourmouth a tangle of fern.

Ourgreen ear

Catchinga web of words

Floatingbetween us.

Hotsteam waterfall —

Shadeand light.

Morphobutterfly

Flashingbright blue.

Howlermonkey screeching

2miles away —

Silkenorchid opening lips.

Hummingbirdkisses.

Weare the forest of rain —

Vanishing

At acrazy rate.

Everyminute

50acres destroyed

1,350acres gone

before10 o’clock tonight.

Therain forest inside us

Isbeing stripped away.

 

Domeof green Light —

Mistyveil —

Hugeblack eye —

Halfsuspended tree —

Goldenglow flowering —

Rainforest lung,

Rainforest womb—

Brightbirds

Swirlingthrough us

Loominginto night

Withcricket cries.

            Treeswith giant root

            Toppledand burned —

            Fragileweb of 2,000,000 species

            Brutallyripped apart.

 

2.VEGETATION

 

lianawire

swinging

overdrunken distance.

Highforest canopy

Hovering

Aboveforest floor.

Everythingrising.

Seekingsun.

Orchidwaving golden mane.

Forestof rain

LikeIndian Kings

Talkingto themselves

Inthe language of plants:

 

Bromeliad.  Mycena.

Lepiota.  Philodendron.

Tendrilswinding through space.

 

Domeof yellow dust

Openingon black butterfly —

Vegetablechoir

Spiralingthrough hollow trunk —

Rainforest opening

Itsgiant mouth.

 

3.RAIN

 

Weare the forest of rain

tiltingour face

todrink.

Withrain we swell—

Brightgreen thoughts refreshed.

Frog,hopping into pool

Heldin flower-cup.

Spider,waiting

Behindcrystal drops.

Parrot,clinging

Toside of cliff.

Floatingspirit

Breakinginto cascades.

Luminoussheets

Descended.

 

Rainblood.

Stems.

Windin waves.

Lightsflashing wet

 

Everythingstopping

forthe rain

 

Greenwomb

Flushingclean.

Waterfallfrom the sky

Daybecoming night.

 

4.CHATTER

 

Weare the forest of rain

Watchingourself

Througha billion eyes.

Scorpionflashing white sting.

Egghatching in a water-bead.

Batpollinating plant.

Iguanacrouching on a log.

Transparentglass forg

In asunbeam.

Jaguarstopping in freeze.

Eachcreature living

Inthe deep darkness of our being.

Everyinch filled with life.

 

Agouti

Boa-constrictor

Jaguarundi

Margay

Coati

Paca

Tapir

Tayra

Anaconda

Lianasnake

Marmoset

Howlermonkey

Kinkajou

Ocelot

Toucanet

Coendu

Macaw

Python

 

5.INDIGENOUS PEOPLES

 

Weare people

Ofthe rain forest

Borninto grass cradles.

Alonga branch

Wesight

Witheagle’s eye.

Eachcolor, cloud, cry

Hasmeaning.

Inwords of the

Rainforest

Wetell that meaning.

Onthe harp-string

Atour bow

Wepluck that meaning.

Onearth

Weare the last people.

Insideus

Rainforests are dying.

 

Ourwhistling note

Signalingthrough leaf walls.

Languageof wind.

Languageof bird.

Nightfalling, demons come.

Daycoming, wisdom spirits whisper.

 

Wehear their long green cry

Asjungle forests die.

Mymother gave me being

Insideof rain cloud

So Iwould weep like rain

So Iwould roam like a cloud

Fromdoor to door

Likea feather in air.

 

6.DESTRUCTION

 

Iwatch the bulldozer

Knockme down.

Likesticks

Mytall trees fall.

Smokefrom my fire

Clottingthe sky.

Throughthe eye of

Myvanishing specie

Iwatch —

Mylung cut,

Mywater cycle stopped.

Ournatural cooling system

OfEarth

Slashedto bits.

Plantand creature

Wenever knew,

Nowforever unknown.

 

Slash,burn!

Cut,plow!

Sinkpipes, drill oil!

Chopdown that forest!

Breedbeef-cattle!

 

Machinery,progress!

Cloudcrossing black sky.

Rawwound

Glaringbelow.

Sunsetting on rubble.

 

7.WASTELAND

 

Cloudcrossing murky sky.

Rawwound glaring below.

Sunsetting on rubble.

 

8.EPILOGUE

 

Inthis room

Is noreal

rainforest.

 

Norain forest

InAspen, Colorado

Wheremountains rise

Andslim trees tremble.

 

Willthis phantom rain forest

Be theonly one left?

 

Thatlong green island

Circlingthe earth

Ispart of our earthly self.

Underits canopy

Weslumber and wake.

 

Forits loss of life

Therain forest wears black.

Plumesof gold and black.

Itfloats —

Likea feather through the air.


 


HenryBrant isAmerica’s foremost composer of acoustic spatial music. The planned positioningof performers throughout the hall, as well as on stage, is an essential factorin his composing scheme and a point of departure for a radically expanded rangeand intensity of musical expression. Brant’s mastery of spatial composingtechnique enables him to write textures of unprecedented polyphonic and/orpolystylistic complexity while providing maximum resonance in the hall andincreased clarity of musical detail for the listener. His catalogue nowcomprises over 100 spatial works.

   Recent premieres include Tremors, for 4 singers and 16 instrumentalists, commissionedby the Getty Research Institute, premiered on June 4, 2004, at the Getty Centerin Los Angeles. Tremors was repeated in a Green Umbrella concert at LA’s new Disney Hallon November 1, 2004. Ghosts & Gargoyles, a concerto for flute solowith flute orchestra, for New Music Concerts, Toronto had its premiere on May26, 2002. Ice Field, for large orchestral groups and organ, was commissioned by OtherMinds for a December 2001 premiere by the San Francisco Symphony.

   In the mid 1950’s Brant felt that “single-style music…could no longer evoke thenew stresses, layered insanities, and multi-directional assaults ofcontemporary life on the spirit.” In keeping with Brant’s belief that music canbe as complex and contradictory as everyday life, his larger works often employmultiple, contrasting performing forces, as in Meteor Farm (1982, appearing on innova411) for symphony orchestra, large jazz band, two choruses, West African drumensemble and chorus, South Indian soloists, large Gamelan ensemble, percussionorchestra and two Western solo sopranos. Brant’s spatial experiments haveconvinced him that space exerts specific influences on harmony, polyphony,texture and timbre. He regards space as music’s “fourth dimension,” (afterpitch, time and timbre). Brant continues to experiment with new combinations ofacoustic timbres, even creating entire works for instrumental family groups ofa single timbre: Orbits for 80 trombones, Ghosts & Gargoyles for 9 flutes, and others formultiple trumpets and guitars. This predilection for ensembles of a single tonequality dates from Angels and Devils (1932). Brant does not use electronic materials orpermit amplification in his music.

   A member of the American Academy of Arts & Letters, Brant was awarded the2002 Pulitzer Prize in Music for Ice Field (2001). He has received two GuggenheimFellowships and was the first America composer to win the Prix Italia. Amongother honors are Ford Foundation, Fromm Foundation, National Endowment for theArts and Koussevitzky awards and the American Music Center’s Letter ofDistinction. The Paul Sacher Foundation in Basel has acquired Brant’s completearchive of original manuscripts including over 300 works (1998). In conjunctionwith Brant’s 85th birthday concert, Wesleyan University conferred upon him thehonorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts (1998).

    Born in Montreal ofAmerican parents in 1913, Henry Brant began composing at the age of eight.After moving to New York in 1929, he composed and conducted for radio, film,ballet, and jazz groups. Starting in the late 40s, he taught at ColumbiaUniversity, Juilliard, and, for 24 years, Bennington College. Since 1981, hehas made his home in Santa Barbara, California.

 


Credits

Specialthanks to Jim Berdahl, General Manager, Aspen Music Festival; Kathy Wilkowskiand Henry Brant.

 

HenryBrant’s music is published by G. Schirmer, Inc.

 

Masteredby Jody Elff, elff.net

 

Thisrecording is funded in part by a grant from the Copland Fund for Music, Inc.Recording Program administered by the American Music Center, and by a grantfrom the National Endowment for the Arts.

 

Alsoin this innova series:

TheHenry Brant Collection, Volume 1 (#408): Northern Lights Over the Twin Cities,A Plan of the Air

Volume2 (#409): Nomads, Ghost Nets, Solar Moth

Volume3 (#410): Trinity of Spheres; Wind, Water, Clouds, and Fire; Litany of Tides

Volume4: (#411): Meteor Farm

Volume5 (#412): Autumn Hurricanes

Volume7 (#414): Inside Track, etc.