I remember watching...
Instrumentation: Mezzo-Soprano, Cello, Pre-Recorded Sound
Duration: 4 minutes
Date of Composition: 2009
I remember watching... for mezzo-soprano, cello and pre-recorded sound was commissioned by Works & Process at the Guggenheim Museum. The piece was composed for a concert celebrating the life and work of Donald Hall, the fourteenth American poet Laureate. I remember watching.. is a setting of Hall's poem The Sea.
One of the core generative ideas of the work revolves around the manner in which memories occupy different places within our consciousness. The poem begins "I remember watching/ from the porch of a cottage/ the loose bulk swayed." The piece opens with a pre-recorded whispered recitation of these lines. The mezzo-soprano follows, first blending in unison with the recorded part, then taking over. The repetition and movement from past (pre-recorded) to present (live) is intended to sonically embody both an invocation that springs a memory from its resting place and the movement of that memory back into the forefront of the mind. The whispered opening morphs into a lyrically-set second stanza. This in turn gives way to a spacious closing that features wordless singing and a subtle, pre-recorded rendering of the very brief third stanza.