Eavesdropping: Poems of Michelle Boisseau, 2018 (15’)

for soprano, violin and percussion

Commissioned by Steve Paul, Thomas Stroik and Friends of Michelle Boisseau


Watch:

Performance by Victoria Sofia Botero, soprano
Jacob Ashworth, violin
Michael Compitello, percussion

I. “Eavesdropping”
II. “Cataract” (at 8’12”)
III. from “Counting” and “Persephone” (at 10’52”)


Michelle Boisseau’s poems hit me like a bus. Ferocious, visceral, excruciatingly perceptive and imagistic, and always, always about something. Lots of poetry is specific enough yet vague and universal enough to provide a structure on which to hang a lot of music. We like these, they are useful to composers! However, Boisseau’s poems are emphatically the opposite; you cannot hang music on them in flights of fancy or use them to make grand compositional gestures. They are chiseled stone, finished, highly detailed sculptures. I read them over and over, searching for texts that I felt wouldn’t be diminished by adding music. I chose these because I felt I might be able to add to the atmosphere (Eavesdropping) or dramatize the speaker’s voice (Cataract) or isolate and share a rare hopefulness (Counting/Persephone). They are challenging in every way imaginable, including all the best ways. This commission has been an honor to tangle with.

Available from Subito Music

All texts used by permission.