The Far West

By Gilks, John | Opera Canada, Summer 2016 | Go to article overview

The Far West


Gilks, John, Opera Canada


THE FAR WEST

WADSWORTH

Bridge: 9466

American composer Zachary Wadsworth's The Far West is a setting for tenor, chorus and strings of texts by poet/priest Tim Duglos, who died of AIDS in 1990. These are very personal and curiously optimistic texts. In "G-9," for example, death is described as "a great adventure" that will end "in just the right place." Only in "Parachute" is there much in the way of anger; in this, AIDs is "an insatiable and prowling beast with razor teeth and a persistent stink."

The settings make good use of the forces deployed. Most of the time either the chorus, Calgary's excellent Luminous Voices, or the tenor soloist, Lawrence Wiliford, are deployed separately and with some contrasts. Wiliford, for example, uses much darker colours in the central movement, "The Far West," where the poet directly confronts his own impending death, than he does in the more contemplative sections "Et in Arcadia Ego" and "G-9," where his tone is characteristically brighter. The clarity of the solo pieces contrasts well with the richer, more "churchy" sound of the interwoven choral movements. Curiously, the basically elegiac mood is sustained musically even for the much harsher text of 'Parachute. …

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