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Work

Scraps from a Madman's Diary : secular oratorio-drama for chamber choir and wind symphony

by Catherine Likhuta (2016)

Work Overview

Scraps from a Madman's Diary is a dramatic staged work for chamber choir and wind band. Subtitled "Musical depiction of the mutation of a once-healthy mind", it is the only work in its genre in the world music literature to date. The piece is inspired by a short story from Ukrainian author Nikolai Gogol ("Diary of a Madman", 1835). The libretto, lyrics and choreography are written by the composer.

The piece is written in a format of a personal diary in 13 scenes, with each scene serving as a diary entry. It depicts the gradual descent of a person into insanity, scene by scene, minute by minute. With each diary entry, we see new signs of blooming mental illness, which eventually leads to a major mental breakdown. At that moment, the Madman separates himself from the choir, and the choir starts to represent voices in the Madman's head.

The piece raises awareness of mental illness through the musical portrayal of the dramatic personal struggle.

Work Details

Year: 2016

Instrumentation: Chamber SATB choir (28-32 performers, head microphones required) and wind symphony: Piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, clarinet in E flat, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet, 2 alto saxophones, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 6 horns in F, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, bass trombone, 2 euphoniums, 2 tubas, string bass (pref. 2), piano, timpani, percussion (4 players).

Duration: 35 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Commission note: Commissioned by Queensland Conservatorium Wind Orchestra (Peter Morris, conductor) with consortium support from Sydney Conservatorium (John Lynch, conductor) and University of Georgia, USA (Cynthia Johnston Turner, conductor)

First performance: by The Australian Voices, Queensland Conservatorium Wind Orchestra, Peter Morris, Gordon Hamilton — 14 Oct 16. Conservatorium Theatre, Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University, Brisbane

Videos

Scraps from a Madman's Diary, by Catherine Likhuta.
 

Performances of this work

14 Oct 16: Conservatorium Theatre, Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University, Brisbane. Featuring The Australian Voices, Queensland Conservatorium Wind Orchestra, Peter Morris, Gordon Hamilton.

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