being a Contraption of Rhymes and Games
for a Jollification of Sad Musicians
For Soprano + Chamber Ensemble (Piano, Violin, Alto Saxophone, Double Bass, Percussion, Party Noisemakers)
1. Doctor Milliner
3. Poor Robin
5. Sally Maiden
6. Cromarty Cross
7. Pan Pan
Music by Eric M. Pazdziora
Texts by John Patrick Pazdziora
Premiered October 23, 2012 at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) School of Music, Theatre, and Dance
Joann Martinson, Soprano
Julia Byrd, Piano
Lauren Eastman, Violin
Hunter Bockes, Alto Saxophone
Steve Landis, Double Bass
Thomas Weaver, Percussion
The Audience, Party Noisemakers
Eric Pazdziora, Conductor
Well, here he is, Doctor Milliner his own self, violin-case under his arm and doffing that bent old stovepipe hat. He’s a toff, all right, but the scraggliest, raggediest, cheeriest old toff you’ll ever meet.
Ask him, now, ask him to tell you about the time the great crocodile Noronoronorowe tore off his left coattail and he had to escape by catching a favourable breeze with his umbrella. Go on, ask him, he’ll tell you that, and more besides.
Ask him to tell you how he built a ship with three mechanical legs which could climb straight up a mountain, and how he was forced to trade it for three tonnes of yeti fur by the terrible Genghis MacDougal. Go on, ask him. He’ll tell you that, and more besides.
Ask him to tell you about his wonderful, amazing, stupendous, superlative, incomparable, magnificent musical FLYING MACHINE—one touch of a button and you’re away, waltzing or squirrelling or sonatifying, its great cloth wings going whump-whump, and its wonderful electro-magnetico-combustifier going pocketa-pocketa-pocketa. Go on, ask him.
Because if you’re really terribly lucky—so lucky you might have found a nickel in a newspaper this morning, or so lucky there was a rabbit in your tea so you had to drink treacle, maybe even lucky enough that you woke up this morning and thought, Aha, I think today will be a very fine day indeed—well then. If you’re as lucky as all that, Doctor Milliner will jingle the jewels he keeps in his pocket, and look thoughtfully at the vast monstrosity of a balloon straining above his FLYING MACHINE. Then he’ll straighten his moth-eaten tie, tap his long nose just so, and wink. And if you’re as lucky as all that, then Doctor Milliner just might give you a ride in his astounding, astonishing, appalling, amazing, apparently uncomparable magnificent musical flying machine.
If the melodica gets restless, give it a thump, it’ll work itself out. If the chord bats start to gnaw on the balloon, well haul away on the whatjamadingle there, and they’ll scatter like song sheets. And if—just if—not to say it hasn’t happened before, because would I tell you if it had?—if Doctor Milliner tries to take you to the moon—well, hang tight to his one remaining coattail and pray that his umbrella doesn’t break when you jump from the deck, in the shower of sparks and cogs and gears and things that ping and pocketa and squeak, and plunge back down the green, welcoming earth.
I won’t say it didn’t happen to me once. But I will say that we might have landed with a crunch in the Imperial Court of the Maharaja, and it might have been precisely the wrong point in Col. Fotheringay-Bellowes’ negotiations for the melodica to make a sound like that, whereupon Doctor Milliner leapt onto the Imperial Counter and sang—
But that’s another story. You ask him.
—John Patrick Pazdziora