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Other Minds Festival:
OM 9, Concert 3: 02 “Sarajevo” & “Three Sentimental Songs” by Jack Body

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Item Type: Sound Recording Duration: 24 min
Event Type: Music Program Origin: Other Minds

“Sarajevo” was written at the invitation of the New Zealand pianist Michael Houstoun, who premiered it at the 1996 International Festival of Arts in Wellington. “Sarajevo” is a reflection on the horrors and futility of the Bosnian war and was partly inspired by my seeing Emir Kausturica's film “Underground”. The film exposes the war's cruel manipulation of ethnic, religious and nationalistic sentiments.

The first movement, called "Remembering...imperfectly," is based on the idea of "selective memory," how the past is often recollected selectively to suit one's present imperatives. I have created a quasi-folksong (played with the right hand thumb) with a kind of plucked instrument accompaniment. The melody recycles round and round, always in fragmentary form, each time with different sections "erased." Flourishes and ppp staccato chords provide a background, sometimes beautiful, sometimes ominous. The movement is static, time suspended before the storm. The second movement's title, "Totentanz," is the dance of death, evoking a genre popular in medieval poetry, painting, and music that depicts Death dancing with its prospective victim. It also conjures up the grotesque and violent fury that inspires young men to kill and be killed in war. Liszt wrote a Totentanz for piano and orchestra, but I also had in mind the fourth of Mussorgsky's “Songs and Dances of Death” as well as Durer's vivid print of “The Knight, Death, and the Devil”. The last movement, "Lachrymae," is a lament, but like much of the traditional music of the Balkans, without self-pity, as much in anger as sorrow.

“Three Sentimental Songs” is set for piano and percussion trio is among a number of arrangements of old songs I have made, chosen from an old "community song book" that was used in our home when I was a child, with my grandmother singing and myself playing the piano. (The other sets are scored for piano solo, voice and piano, and voice and ensemble).

Perhaps there always comes a time in one's life when one can no longer resist the power of nostalgia and sentimentality...but in submitting to it, we can discover a beauty and freshness that was not previously apparent.... " Jack Body

Musical Selections:  Sarajevo (1995) / Jack Body -- Three Sentimental Songs: Daisy Bell ; All Through the Night ; Little Brown Jug (2000-01) / Jack Body
Performers:  Sarah Cahill, piano
Joel Davel, percussion (Three Sentimental Songs)
Chris Froh, percussion (Three Sentimental Songs)
Ward Spangler, percussion (Three Sentimental Songs)
Genre:  20th Century Classical
Subject:  20th century classical; Piano music; Piano with percussion ensemble
People:  Body, Jack, 1944-; Cahill, Sarah; Davel, Joel; Froh, Christopher; Spangler, Ward
Recording Date:  3/7/2003
 
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