Songs for Rachel Carson

Article excerpt

NOTED SEATTLE COMPOSER and recording artist Robin Holcomb found her own way to honor the late Rachel Carson, a pioneer environmentalist famed for her landmark 1962 book about the dangers of pesticides, Silent Spring. Halcomb's new musical theatre piece, O, Say a Sunset, is inspired by Carson's life and writings. Directed by Nikki Appino, it premieres at Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis (Sept. 19-20), then goes to New York's Dance Theatre Workshop (Sept. 24-27), the Flynn Center in Burlington, Vt. (Oct. 2-4), and Seattle's On the Beards (Oct. 10-11).

"I've been calling it a staged song cycle," explains Halcomb. "It's like a concert with lots of songs, some instrumental music, film, a bit of dance, text, theatrical moments."

Holcomb devised the show for two actresses and five musicians after David White, former head of DTW, "invited me to make a song cycle with theatrical implications. Somehow Rachel Carson came to mind. She was a heroic figure, but a lot of younger people aren't aware of who she was and what she did."

Though Holcomb has created music for other theatre pieces (most recently, Appino's Project X: Before the Comet Comes, at Seattle's Empty Space Theatre), O, Say a Sunset is her first script-writing effort. Her work paraphrases some of Carson's own eloquent prose from her books, and her letters to close friend Dorothy Freeman. …