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CHAMBER MUSIC

Jabberwocky

 


photo Jabberwocky - voice and percussion (13')
Poetry by Lewis Carroll

Premiere: The Manhattan School of Music, NYC, 2/90

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My interpretation of Jabberwocky began as an exploration of Lewis Carroll's magical nonsense text. While this poem is still clearly a story to be told, the words themselves invite new vocal sounds. My version of this piece stems more from improvisational theater than from a traditional setting of the text. Originally, I experimented with the poem acapella, until I had a shape and a sense of how to tell the story. Then I decided to add a percussionist to provide greater dimensionality and drama. I later incorporated Jabberwocky into my chamber opera, Wonderglass, a dream-like journey through the world of Lewis Carroll's "Alice" stories.

In performance, a very focused area is illuminated (specifically, the mouth and hands) surrounded by complete darkness, isolating the audience's "exterior" visual dimension. This lighting frees the audience to explore their own "interior" visual interpretation, and allows each individual imagination the space to complete their own pictures.

Jabberwocky is included on a recording of Susan Botti's music, listen, it's snowing (CRI 802)

"Ms. Botti's composition 'Jabberwocky' effectively turned Lewis Carroll's satirical poem into a shockingly expressionistic musical narration of decapitation and gore; her voice ranged from singsong whispers to ghoulish shrieks."
   -- Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times

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