Shattered Glaciers

For soprano and computer generated sounds ; 2011 ; Duration ca. 20 minutes, 30 seconds

In 2005 poet Kenneth Staples provided me with three dark, richly textured poems, two of which I set in a piece entitled Diaspora. Among the presentations of this piece that I have especially admired were two performances given on very short notice in 2009 by soprano Jamie Jordan, and I resolved at that time to find an opportunity to write a piece particularly suited to Jamie's lyric, dramatic and technical artistry (and, as a bonus, to be able to exploit her unusually wide range of more than two and a half octaves). The third, unused poem by Staples had been clattering around in the back of my mind for several years, clamoring for attention, and this poem became the vehicle for "Jamie's piece."

The music, like the text, is highly and unabashedly emotional, sometimes almost expressionistic or hyperbolic in tone. It is the cry, and the smile, of someone who has had her heart broken -- more than once -- by life's events, but who also has experienced renewal, grace, fulfillment and passion.

During performances and rehearsals, playback of the computer part generally is controlled by the soloist by means of a USB foot pedal and a PD (Pure Data) patch, based upon a similar patch created for Diaspora by Matt Barber, running on a laptop computer. The first order ambisonic soundfiles for the computer part can be decoded for two (stereo), four (quad), six or eight`audio channels and loudspeakers. 4 and 6 channel decoding provides two dimensional left/right, front/rear localization of the computer sounds, while 8 channel decoding, with the loudspeakers placed in upper and lower arrays near the four corners of the performance space, additionally provides localization of all sounds to various perceived heights.

PDF score excerpt from the beginning of the piece.

MP3 audio excerpt
This excerpt, sung by Jamie Jordan, begins about two and a half minutes into the piece, to the text

... spun them adrift
and the spirits of the weak and the hardy
were well sifted in her stride.

Her kisses, tender as they were infernal,
poured forth as a cup on tilt
rinsing nightblue slate to a humid gloss
Duration of this excerpt: 2 minutes 48 seconds; size 5.2 MB ; encoding 256 kBit stereo

This work was premiered by soprano Jamie Jordan on a concert of my music in Eastman's Kilbourn Hall on March 15, 2011. For performance information on this work please send e-mail to the composer at aschindler@esm.rochester.edu

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Copyright 2011  Allan Schindler
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