FROM THE HIDDEN WORLD OF GIRLS | Commissioned by the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music
c.a. (10 minutes)
Hidden World of Girls: Stories for Orchestra [World Premiere | Festival Commission]
Cabrillo Festival's 50th anniversary season opens with the world premiere of Hidden World of Girls: Stories for Orchestra, an evening-length work based on stories developed by Peabody Award-winning radio producers The Kitchen Sisters (a.k.a. Nikki Silva and Davia Nelson) for their NPR series. This groundbreaking new work uses the power of the symphonic form and contemporary multimedia to explore the diverse lives of girls and the women they become—stories and secrets emerge from the dunes of the Sahara, the prisons of Louisiana, a racetrack in Ramallah, a reservation in South Dakota, a slumber party in New York City, the planet Venus, and beyond. Hidden World of Girls: Stories for Orchestra is the collaboration between The Kitchen Sisters as lead concept artists; Emmy award-winning composer Laura Karpman as lead composer and creative director; three emerging female composers—Clarice Assad, Alexandra du Bois, and Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum; the world renowned media design group Obscura Digital; and Cabrillo Festival’s esteemed music director and conductor Marin Alsop; and it features two local teenage girl soloists including electric guitarist Jacklyn Partida (a.k.a. Jackie Rocks), and percussionist Emily Liu.
Flute(2) ! Oboe(2)
Clarinet in Eb
Clarinet in Bb
Trumpet in C (4) + doub. piccolo trumpet
Trombone (2) Bass Trombone
Tuba Timpani Percussion (4 Players) *
Percussion 1 Cymbals (crash, suspended, sizzle) Triangle Clown horn (2) (high and low) Slide Whistle Cowbells (2) Vibraslap Guiro Brake Drum
Tam Tam WoodBlocks (3) Crotales Drum Set: ride cymbal, susp. cymbal, 2 crash cymbals, hi-hat, toms (4), snare drum, bass drum (muted to sound dry) Guiro, Brake Drum
Large Bass Drum Flexatone WoodBlocks (3) Wind Machine Bongos
Slapstick Tambourine Glockenspiel Vibraphone Marimba Police Siren Police Whistle Tubular Bells
THE DISAPPEARED - by Clarice Assad
In 1992 artist Claudia Bernardi and her sister Patricia went to El Mozote, El Salvador, to commit themselves to the grueling task of exhuming hundreds of skeletons from a mass grave. Among them, 136 victims had been children under the age of twelve. This slaughter, a bizarre bi-product of a brutal twelve years of a Civil War, had been quickly covered up and dismissed for various political reasons. As a result, it went unreported by the press for a long time. Yet Rufina Amaya Marquez, (1942-2007), one of the handful survivors of this horror, had lived to tell the story.
The Disappeared is a political piece. The underlying political events that led to the massive destruction of an entire village is quite absurd and really difficult to accept. It took me several weeks to figure out what I was going to do with this story, and after much pondering, the image/idea of a traveling circus came into my mind. I chose the circus because of all its metaphorical meanings and its vivid imageries. A circus can be sweet, childish and innocent, or it can be gruesome, freakish and violent, such as the Circus Maximus in ancient Rome.
A disturbing musical parody, the music is quite visual and acknowledges the horrific events which had taken place in the village of El Mozote, as if conveyed to the audience by a traveling circus that had pulled into town and put on a show. Each circus ‘act,’ metaphorically addresses political issues such as power abuse and freedom and the acts are woven together by interludes sung by a female voice inspired by the witness Rufina Amaya. Her voice lives in a parallel reality and accounts for what happened before the pandemonium and in the aftermath but never during the present, actual horror.
Little by little, the bittersweet melody begins to lose its naivité by piecing together ghostly memories of a community that once thrived in innocence and simplicity, though it had been overshadowed by an ominous premonition. The chronicle is a juxtaposition of ideas, emotions and ideals, a musical collage, of sorts–influenced by Claudia Bernardi’s art, which since her experience in El Mozote, has included severed figures and fragments of bone in her images and then children’s toys and clothing–traces of vanished lives.
The work opens with an overture and quickly dissolves into the first interlude CHILDREN IN A CIRCLE. Next, is EVIL CLOWNS; symbolizing the government. It features a solo piccolo trumpet, which attempts to mock and mimic the speech of a dictator. The second interlude welcomes the FLYING TRAPEZE, which stands for freedom, freedom of speech and free will. The movement closes bittersweetly with JUGGLERS AND TUMBLERS, who herald news of the circus coming to town. Finally, the music is interrupted by the last interlude, which is not sung but whispered in the form of a prayer. It is a soft, but desperate pleading, a cry for help that goes answered and the music progresses into the final movement entitled FREAK SHOW. The piece concludes with a sung postlude, the only portion of the work that contains lyrics. These lyrics, set to a poem by Brazilian writer Daniel Basilio, summarize the story with a beautiful message of life affirming hope and continuing fortitude.