A Far Cry with Luciana Souza, Vocalist
The Blue Hour
Saturday, November 18, 2017 | 8 pm
$10 Duke student tickets and $20 tickets for patrons ages 30 and under will go on sale TUESDAY, AUGUST 29 at 11 AM. Tickets will be available for purchase online, via phone at 919-684-4444, and in person at the Duke University Box Office, Monday through Friday, 11 AM to 6 PM.
Since its launch in 2007, Boston’s A Far Cry has taken an unusual approach to the making of orchestral music. Seventeen musicians opted to start a communal, self-conducted string symphony in which leadership was shared and feedback was offered ground-up, not top-down. The approach has worked beautifully, generating a record label, a GRAMMY nomination, commissions, and critical accolades, including a spot on the year-end lists of New Yorker critic Alex Ross.
For The Blue Hour, a new evening-length commission, A Far Cry engaged a group of five composers — Rachel Grimes, Angélica Négron, Caroline Shaw, Sarah Kirkland Snider, and Shara Nova — to work, like the ensemble, as a collective, creating a collaborative work for string orchestra and voice. The composers set excerpts from Carolyn Forché’s poem On Earth, an abecedarium — in which the poet starts each new section, and in this case each line in that section, with a new letter of the alphabet. The poem offers a recitation of memories from a life nearing its end:
a barnloft of horse dreams, with basin and bedclothes
a bit of polished quiet from a locked church
a black coat in smoke
a black map of clouds on a lake
a blackened book-leaf, straw and implements
a blue daybook hidden in my bed with his name
a branch weighted with pears
The resulting song cycle is performed by A Far Cry and the acclaimed Brazilian vocalist Luciana Souza. Composer Shara Nova says of the sprawling new composition, “In a time when people are dehumanized by war and displacement, this poem abounds with the beauty and detail of a single human life. The whole is seen through the lens of one individual. The project will have its greatest impact if we can, through our musical undertaking, engender a sense of empathy with this person’s experience of being alive.”
“A Far Cry brims with personality or, better, personalities, many and varied.”