Meredith Monk is amazing, and the amount of concentration and virtuosity it must take for two singers to maintain the delicate balancing act of this piece seems super-human. High-wire act though it is, I find this song endlessly playful and fascinating.
“Hocket” from Facing North by Meredith Monk
Our final pairing this week: these songs don’t have a lot in common, but each makes us smile.
Meredith Monk: The Tale
I adore this video and watch it when i need a mood lifter. It’s short and totally charming. The performance captures Meredith’s great spirit—her purity, humor, uniqueness.
And it’s a rare example of Meredith with her hair loose (well, in a ponytail) and singing using standard English words. Enjoy!
Rufus Wainwright: Oh, What a World
In 1975, the folkie singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III recorded a song about his newborn son being nursed by his mother, called “Rufus is a Tit Man.” Little did we know. While Rufus would inherit some of his dad’s sardonic humor, he’s more in the mold of his idol Judy Garland–fabulous, dramatic, prone to both excess and dreamy tenderness. “Oh What a World,” from his 2003 magnum opus Want is almost ridiculously busy, but that’s the fun of it. In a song ostensibly about feeling lonely on a train, we begin with a slow-march oom-pah tuba and Rufus intoning “men reading fashion magazines.” Then, one by one, come choruses, strings, and, as one critic said, “horns, harmony and hope.” There are numerous allusions to Ravel’s Bolero, and of course there’s Judy. The title refers to the Wicked Witch’s dying words in The Wizard of Oz, and as everything is fading away, listen for the “dreams really do come true” quote from “Over the Rainbow.”
This week our SoTD curator is composer Susan Botti who will host and curate the second installment of NYFOS Next 2016 on Febuary 11th alongside fellow Manhattan School of Music faculty member, Richard Danielpour. Botti is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Rome Prize. Orchestral commissions include works for the Cleveland Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. In addition to performing her own vocal works, she specializes in the vocal performance of contemporary music by a diverse range of composers. Thank you, Susan!
Wa-Lie-oh (Meredith Monk)
Meredith Monk is a vocal spiritual guide for me. Her music and her singing are so natural and free – her compositions are “one” with her voice and body. I particularly love her Songs from the Hill, songs without words (mostly) that communicate beyond words. The sound of the voice is connected to the melodic and rhythmic elements of the compositions. There’s something timeless about her and her wonderful music.
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