Apr 102014

Ekaterinoslav CoverI’m excited to announce the world premiere of my M.M. thesis composition Ekaterinoslav: One Family’s Passage to America. Based on the book by award-winning poet Jane Yolen, the music drama tells the story of Yolen’s rediscovery of her father’s immigrant history from a small Jewish village in Ukraine to Ellis Island in 1914. Her father chose to suppress this part of their family history, keeping the truth from her almost until his death. The real story was that her father had spent his early childhood in a small shtetl, or Jewish village, the name of which was forever linked with the brutality and the tragedy of the pogroms: Ekaterinoslav.

The resulting story tells Jane’s attempts to reconstruct the truth—or perhaps to re-invent it as poetry—of her family’s flight to America, using old photos and neglected documents to discover the oral history her father never gave her. Jane’s vivid imagination fills in details about her relatives’ personalities and adventures, but also struggles to come to terms with her bereavement and betrayal by her father, whose lies and silences denied her the chance to appreciating her heritage, and fully understand her own story.

My setting of a third of Yolen’s poems navigates a space between song cycle and chamber opera, as dramatic monologues and dialogues give sketches of scenes from her family’s immigrant experience and her search for identity.

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Somehow the full score wound up 268 pages long. I don’t know either.

I’ve been working very hard on this music, and I’m excited to have it performed at my upcoming graduate recital. The premiere will be  Wednesday, April 16, at 8:00 PM at the Starr Theatre in downtown Greensboro. One night only; admission is free! Featuring talented musicians including:

Joann Martinson, soprano
Jessica Johnson, mezzo-soprano
Mark Engebretson, conductor

For those who want to RSVP on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/381465638662439/

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For more information about Jane Yolen’s marvelous poetry, or her over 300 books of which I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve read at least one, check out this link on her website: http://janeyolen.com/works/ekaterinoslav-a-familys-passage-to-america

And here’s a peek inside the score:

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