If There Were Water
If There Were Water
A new recording of world premieres addressing a topic of our national discourse: diaspora. If There Were Water, from Philadelphia’s 2017 Grammy-nominated choir, The Crossing, is a testament to the expressive range of the human voice. These two strikingly diverse, yet equally compelling unaccompanied compositions were commissioned for The Crossing’s Month of Moderns festival and premiered in June 2017. Drawing from literary and historic sources, the works are highly personal reflections that speak with clarity to contemporary concerns of displacement, while weaving together past and present.
In Crossings Cycle, Greek composer Stratis Minakakis creates a visceral musical response to the experience of observing Syrian refugees on the Isle of Lesbos. An elegy on things irretrievably lost, Crossings Cycle draws on Ancient Greek literature, Eliot’s The Waste Land, and microtonal tuning practices to convey a deeply resonant expression of the human condition. Sounds emerge and disappear from the shadows, often erupting as great cries or crashing waves that disintegrate again into murmurs.
un/bodying/s by composer Gregory W. Brown explores the history of the displaced populations of Quabbin, the Swift River Valley in Western Massachusetts, including the Native Americans moved by incoming Europeans, and then those Europeans relocated by the State when creating the massive reservoir that supplies Boston with water. Gregory and librettist Todd Hearon tell these stories from a variety of perspectives, including the history of the wildlife that, like the human refugees, have fled and since returned to this troubled land. The music undulates as if at times floating on water, or hidden under it, or soaring above it, reflecting up. Suddenly a New England hymn will emerge, then be replaced with a more distant, elusive texture, as the eternal search for Atlantis continues.
All photos are of the Quabbin Reservoir, shot by Gregory W. Brown on a vintage Argoflex 75