for amplified soprano, rock group, chorus, and orchestra (1968, revised 1973)
28 July 1968
Phyllis Bryn-Julson, soprano / La Jolla Musical Arts Society Orchestra / Milton Katims, conductor
Rock group: 2ssax(II=tsax), electric guitar, bass guitar
Orchestra: 2(=picc).2(II=corA).2(Iibcl).2(II=dbn)-0.2.2.0-perc(3): t.bells/anvil/tam-t/BD/wind machine-strings
from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" by Lewis Carroll; the lItany of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and the Lutheran chorale "Es ist genug"
Dedicated to R. J. Sullivan
The Men's Advocacy Board of the Musical Arts Society of La Jolla, CA
is a kind of Cantata of the Sacred and Profane, with two elements mingled on many levels: the 'crazy' Alice in Wonderland texts next to the sacrosanct Litany of the Blessed Virgin and Chorale
; the amplification and 'Rock' instruments beside the unamplified 'normal' orchestra; sections of tonality, juxtaposed to quasi-tonal and atonal materials. Beneath these glaringly contrasting elements lie a number of similarities, both dramatic and musical, and these serve to bind the piece together. Indeed, the juxtaposition of 'external' violent contrasts with 'internal' close connections was one of the generative ideas for the piece.
"Turtle Soup I
, a setting of text from Alice in Wonderland
, is scored for the soprano and 'rock group' only. It plays obsessively on the opening notes of the Chorale and fades eventually into the Litany
for chorus and orchestra alone. Jabberwocky
, the longest movement, is a setting of a poem from Carroll's Through the Looking Glass
, and combines the solo soprano and 'rock group' with the orchestra. I call it a 'Melodrama', and had in mind all the old silent movies I had seen, where each element of the story, each emotion, is spelled out as graphically as possible. The rock group becomes the personification of Carroll's terrifying Jabberwock, and each event of the tale — from the father's early warning to his son, through the climactic battle with the Jabberwock, to the son's final victory — is mirrored programmatically in the music. Turtle Soup II
is a rather strange da capo
of Turtle Soup I
. The solo soprano, saxophones and electric guitar play their music once more, only this time it is all backwards; simultaneously Turtle Soup I is heard in its original version, played by the orchestra. In good liturgical fashion, I use the Bach chorale in its entirety as the work's concluding section, with occasional gusts of Turtle Soup
blowing over the sacred scene, producing a kind of 'when-worlds-collide' effect."
- David Del Tredici
... a pleasingly bizarre shotgun wedding of Bach fragments, church ritual, electrocuted orchestration, instrumental rock-casting, supple chant, wild choral punctuation, straightforward solo recitation, otherworldly coloratura, deft theatrical devices and Lewis Carroll's whimsy. The conglomeration is inspired nonsense, boldly responsive to myriad satirical indulgences. Del Tredici...obviously has the makings of an extraordinary opera composer.
-Martin Bernheimer, Los Angeles Times
The best thing by far to come out of the Boston Symphony Spectrum concerts...was the premiere of Pop-Pourri by David Del Tredici. It made a big hit with the audience.
-Michael Steinberg, Boston Globe