Academic journal article Journal of Singing

RACE FOR THE SKY. Voices of 9/11

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

RACE FOR THE SKY. Voices of 9/11

Article excerpt

THOMAS, RICHARD PEARSON (b. 1957). RACE FOR THE SKY. Voices of 9/11. High Voice, Violin, and Piano. Portage Press Publishing, 2002 (CVR). Tonal; C^sub 4^-A^sup b^^sub 5^; Tess: M-mH; regular meters with changes; slow to moderate tempos; V/M-mD, P/ M-mD; 29 pages. Soprano.

In the spring of 2002, soprano Lisa Radakovich Holsberg first saw the poems that inspired this song cycle displayed in the New York Historical Society's City Lore exhibit Missing: Streetscape of a City in Mourning. Moved by the poems, Holsberg commissioned Richard Pearson Thomas to set them for voice, violin, and piano. The result is Race for the Sky, three songs and a "Meditation" for violin and piano.

The first text, "To the Towers Themselves," is anonymous and was retrieved by the NYC Parks Department, probably from the Union Square area. The author refers to the Twin Towers as "never the favorites" but "two young dumb guys,/ Beer drinking/ Downtown MBA's/ Swaggering across the skyline." But now that they are gone, they are mourned "like young men/ Lost at war,/ Not having had their life yet," never having had the chance to age with time. They never knew what hit them, and they are mourned by those left behind. The open spacing of the piano chords and the wide ranging voice and violin lines create a sense of open space and height reminiscent of the towering buildings. The slow moving chords reveal sonorities that evoke nostalgia for the towers.

The long text is rhythmically patterned, often beginning each line ("I can no longer . . .") with some form of the basic motive. Many of the lines end with an extended phrase or slow melisma that emphasizes the emotion of the loss. Under these extended phrase endings, the instruments continue their relentless rhythmic motive. The cumulative effect of the whole song would be quite overwhelming to the listener.

"Meditation" for violin and piano is a welcome point of rest after the accumulated stress of the previous song. …

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