I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.
- Wallace Stevens from Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
Join soprano Alexandra Porter, pianist Daniel Schreiner, and flutist Joshua Weinberg for an intimate evening exploring the sonic ramifications of “inflection” versus “innuendo”. Defined by Merriam-Webster as a “change in pitch or loudness of the voice,” inflection is direct expression, mediated and manipulated, yet nonetheless purposeful; by contrast, an innuendo is “an oblique or veiled allusion, hint, or insinuation” -- in other words, the antithesis of directness. How does this dichotomy between expression and suggestion play out in composed music, where the passage of time constantly warps and re-contextualizes our perception of the present moment? And how do we interpret the seemingly “direct” expressions of the natural world (like birdsong, for instance) without any trace of human subjectivity?
Joined by percussionist Jon Clancy, we will perform Lukas Foss’s 1978 masterpiece Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, based on Wallace Stevens’ poem of the same name. Also included on the program are: Psalm 2 for solo snare drum by Sarah Hennies, selections from Olivier Messiaen’s extensive works based on birdsong, including Le Merle Noir (The blackbird) for flute and piano and Petites esquisses d'oiseaux (Little bird sketches) for solo piano; Kaija Saariaho’s Dolce Tormento for solo piccolo; and finally, Kate Soper’s theatrical and virtuosic duo Only the Words Themselves Mean What They Say for soprano and flute.
13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (1978) for soprano, flute, percussion, and piano - Lukas Foss [16’30”]
Psalm 2 (2010) for snare drum - Sarah Hennies [6’00”]
Le Merle Noir (1952) for flute and piano - Olivier Messiaen [6’32”]
Petites Esquisses D’Oiseaux (1985) for piano - Olivier Messiaen [12'00]
Dolce Tormento (2004) for piccolo - Kaija Saariaho [6’00”]
Only the Words Themselves Mean What They Say (2012) for soprano and flute - Kate Soper [12’00’]