Escorts : Opera Without Words
by Derek Strahan (1989)
From the CD Music for a champagne breakfast
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An Opera Without Words in 5 Acts.
The flute is cast in the role of Ms. Treble Clef. The alto saxophone plays multiple roles: the Composer, and a series of males by whom Ms Clef is escorted. The work makes use of polyphonic and polymetric devices to tell a gender specific romantic story of heterosexual love lost and love regained. Flute and alto saxophone engage in recurring "dialogues" in which musical phrases mimic the inflexions and rhythms of speech. A recurring device is the use of tremolo piano chords to suggest a phone ringing. A staccato piano chord depicts the phone being slammed down by Ms. Clef to terminate each conversation. Phone conversations between the Composer and Ms Clef serve as linking episodes between each act. The Composer's theme is voiced by the saxophone in fragments during these conversations, and eventually emerges as a flowing melody in the Coda heard at the conclusion of The Reconciliation that very quickly leads to a romantic duet, which in turns gives way to a passionate and pulsing Coda, involving rising swing music chords and a repeating triple figure over a rhythmic pedal bass.
Instrumentation: Piano, alto saxophone, flute.
Duration: 13 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — Professional, much use of cross rhythms and counterpoint
Contents note: Act 1:The Quarrel -- Act 2: Rough Trade -- Act 3: The Tourist -- Act 4: The Chauvinist -- Act 5: Reconciliation.
Dedication note: The Berky Trio with grateful thanks from the composer for premiering the work then recording it at Sydney's (then called) 2MBS radio station studio.
Commission note: "Commissioned by the Berky Trio, and composed with the assistance of a grant from the Performing Arts Board of the Australia Council"
First performance: by Berky Trio — Mar 89. Willoughby Town Hall, Sydney
The composer notes the following styles, genres, influences, etc associated with this work:
Applied jazz, Gershwin, Polymetric, Polyphony, Melodic, Compound harmony
Performances of this work
Mar 89: Willoughby Town Hall, Sydney. Featuring Berky Trio.
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