pushed there by the fist
of the swinging tide,
two mezzo-sopranos and two soprano saxophones; 2004; ca. 6'
This work also exists in a version for SSA choir and two soprano saxophones*
Text by Veronica Pasfield
Listen to the work:
You lean me into the beach,
pushed there by the fist of the swinging tide,
and the sky spins under a million stars,
and the deep lake turns to a blue black pearl.
Your lean body, the water rises then pulls slowly back.
And I let you spill your million blue stars into my pearly sea
and spin me into the blue black center of convergence and space.
Pearl came about as a collaboration between poet Veronica Pasfield and myself in March of 2004. The selection of instrumentation seemed somewhat natural to the text–the highly charged, erotic tone of the poem suggested a tense, highly treble sound world. I chose the soprano saxophnoes because of the intensely controlled, vocal nature of the instrument. The itself is a love song, rife with images of water, sky, and a constant pushing and pulling. Using two coices plays off of the idea that any love song involves two people, whether both are present or not. Both voices are simultaneously one and other. Having two voices and two saxophones emulate the tidal ebb and flow, its pushing and pulling motions–aside from the obvious sexual overtones–is designed to illuminate the inherent give and take in the poem.
* The SSA version was never performed; it was programmed for a performance in the late 2000s, but festival officials at that particular festival in that particular state deemed the text inappropriate (?)
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