The Rag and Bone Shop

The Rag and Bone Shop (2010) for voice (baritone) and piano trio

duration: 15 min

text:  Charles Olson, Kabir, William Stafford, Juan Ramon Jimenez

Jointly commissioned by baritone David Small and violinist Brian Lewis and the David and Mary Winton Green Chair in String Performance and Pedagogy at The University of Texas at Austin Butler School of Music.

premiered – February 22nd, 2013 in Austin, Texas by David Small, Baritone, Brian Lewis, Violin, Bion Tsang, Cello, Rick Rowley, Piano

This cycle of four songs for baritone and piano trio is on four diverse poems, all suggested to me by baritone David Small and violinist Brian Lewis. Since I can’t abide an even numbered cycle (because I like to have a central point around which the rest of the songs can revolve), the first movement These Nights serves as an instrumental prelude based on the sung melody from the final song These Days. It’s a brilliant and explosive introduction to the rest of the songs. Following this introduction is the song True, on Kabir’s introspective poem How Much is Not True. This song is a bit of a departure for me, being an almost straight up pop song. The centerpiece of the cycle is Ritual which comes from William Stafford’s A Ritual To Read To Each Other. In this song, I was instructed to write for voice and violin only. Ritual is the longest and most involved song of the cycle and is the song in which the rest of the cycle revolves around. The fourth song I Am Not I features the piano performing virtuosic sweeping gestures that accompany the voice on Juan Ramon Jimenez’s poem of the same name. The cycle ends austerely on Charles Olson’s These Days.