Contrariwise Kickstarter Update and New YouTube Clip

This just in….

“First, I want to offer our thanks for posting a link to our album pre-sale for “Contrariwise: Songs from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland andThrough the Looking-Glass” on your site. I don’t know if you post any updates on projects in process, but we have 63 hours left and have only met about 30% of our goal. The homepage for our campaign is: http://igg.me/at/Contrariwise and here’s our most recent video update showing a session where we added “hundreds of voices” to the chorus of “Queen Alice” by recording in a former bank lobby, as well as a clip us performing “They told me you had been to her… ” at the Hilltown Spring Festival: http://youtu.be/9CrwC9ErDEM
We thank you ninety-times-nine!
Daniel Hales, on behalf of Daniel hales, and the frost heaves.”

So, if you like indie/alternative music and enjoy supporting Carrollian music projects, you might want to check out their links before their fundraising campaign expires.

Another Lewis Carroll-Themed Song Cycle

Composer Bruce Lazarus posted a link on our Facebook page about The Lewis Carroll Project, his art song cycle dedicated to the life and works of Lewis Carroll.  Lazarus has drawn his libretto from both well-known and lesser-known Carroll writings, including The Game of Logic and a letter to a child friend.  You can read more about the project and listen to “The Mad Gardener’s Song” by clicking here.

New Alice-Themed Music Project

We’ve just received the following note about a new indie music effort and Indiegogo campaign:

I’m writing because my band is recording an album of poem-song adaptations from “Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass.” We’valready recorded half the tracks, and we launched an Indiegogo album pre-sale campaign on May 4th to raise the funds needecover the costs of additional recording, mixing, mastering, and duplication. Our album, “Contrariwise,” will be released on November 4th. I hope you’ll consider posting a link to our Indiegogo page, where we have a letter describing the project in more detail, as well as a 4 minute video that includes snippets fromrough demos of our versions of “Jabberwocky,” “Beautiful Soup,” “Queen Alice,” and others:http://igg.me/at/Contrariwise

If you’re into Alice-themed music, you might want to check it out!

Unsuk Chin’s “out there” Alice in Wonderland opera in St. Louis

With only two performances left of a six-night show, Alice in Wonderland at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis seems to have been charming and challenging the critics in equal measure. “South Korean composer Unsuk Chin’s five-year-old Alice in Wonderland might be the most “out there” work I’ve seen in 22 years of coming here” says Scott Cantrell, classical music critic for the Dallas Morning News.

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (Ken Howard)

With prime episodes wittily adapted in a libretto by David Henry Hwang and Chin, the score matches Carroll for sheer weirdness and unpredictability — and humor. I was delighted for about an hour and a half of the nearly two-hour, no-intermission work, but found the end overly protracted.

Vocal lines often dart widely, although Alice sings a lullaby to the Duchess’ pig baby. There’s a fair bit of Sprechstimme, halfway between speech and singing, and the Duchess tosses off a streetwise rap. The Caterpillar “speaks” through an onstage, be-fezzed bass clarinetist, while the words of his exchange with Alice are merely projected on the walls. More (and some photos). . .

John von Rhein at the Chicago Tribune seemed to enjoy the evening:

Ashley Emerson made a spunky, engaging Alice, clear of voice and accurate of pitch, although her soprano sometimes failed to penetrate the thorny scoring. The Caterpillar was danced by choreographer Sean Curran and “sung” by bass clarinetist James Meyer, with members of the children’s chorus trailing behind as segments of the insect’s body. Tracy Dahl’s Cheshire Cat, David Trudgen’s White Rabbit, Matthew DiBattista’s Dormouse, Aubrey Allicock’s Mad Hatter, Julie Makerov’s Queen of Hearts and Jenni Bank’s Duchess also were standouts amid the large ensemble. Every one of them went at the blithe lunacy of their roles hammer and tongs. More. . .

The St. Louis performance is the U.S. premiere of Unsuk Chin’s work. At the world premiere in Munich in 2007 it received a decidedly mixed response, as one review recounted: “In the end, the audience divided violently. The lusty, loudly sustained boo’s seemed to overwhelm the less numerous but also sustained applause.” No such reports from the St. Louis show, just congratulations to a brave and talented ensemble.

The final performance will be on June 23rd at 8pm, at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, 210 Hazel Avenue St. Louis, MO.

 

Happy Unbirthday David Del Tredici!

The composer’s 75th un-Unbirthday was actually last March 16th, but it was celebrated in style on March 25 and 26, according to Operation Brooklyn, with a performance of “Haddocks’ Eyes” at the Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn, starring Amy van Roekel and with Del Tredici playing piano. The show was presented by Opera on Tap (“born as a barroom presenter of arias” according to the Times,) and American Opera Projects.

David Del Tredici

Is the White Knight, who sings Alice his famous nonsense song in “Through the Looking-Glass,” really a caricature of Lewis Carroll himself? Like the knight, Carroll had shaggy hair, mild blue eyes, a kind and gentle face. Like the knight, his mind seemed to function best when it saw things in topsy-turvy fashion. . . Of all the characters Alice meets on her two dream adventures, only the White Knight seems to be genuinely fond of her and to offer her special assistance… His melancholy farewell may be Carroll’s farewell to Alice when she grew up (became a queen) and abandoned him. With this idea in hand, David Del Tredici’s uses his post-Romantic musical style to bring a touchingly personal dimension to the Alice universe. “Haddocks’ Eyes” was commissioned by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and premiered at Alice Tully Hall in 1986.

Then there were other “Alician” pieces on offer, described by the New York Times:

The programs veer off into very different territory with “Through the Peeping Glass,” described as a “burlesque/cirque” performance by the burlesque artist Rita MenWeep. Sunday’s show includes excerpts from the opera “Dreaming of Wonderland” by Manly Romero and on Monday with portions of Susan Botti’s opera “Wonderglass.”

That’s apparently not the first time Rita MenWeep has done Carrollian Burlesque at the Galapagos Art Space. We found this youtube featuring MenWeep from the gallarey’s Alice in Wonderland-themed 2010 Spring Ball, called “Dances of Vice.”

USC Libraries Wonderland Award submission deadline nearing

Students at the University of Southern California and affiliated institutions take note: the submissions deadline for the 2012 Wonderland Award is only two weeks away.

The goal of the annual award, now in its eighth year, is to encourage new scholarship and creative work related to Lewis Carroll. The competition is multidisciplinary and all manner of submissions are welcomed, from scholarly essays to animation, digital compositions, film, music, performance pieces, and visual artworks.

Last year, the award was won by USC Thornton School of Music student Veronique Van Pelt for her musical album, The Alice Sketches: Songs About Lewis Carroll, Alice Liddell, the Wonderland Stories and the Present. Below is a picture of Van Pelt receiving her award. Linda Cassady, founder and sponsor of the award, is pictured far right.

Submissions for 2012 USC Libraries Wonderland Award are due on April 2nd. For more information visit the USC Libraries website.

USC Libraries Wonderland Award 2011

Update: If you are coming to the LCSNA Spring Meeting in Cambridge, MA, next month, you will get the chance to hear Linda Cassady talk about her Wonderland Award and some of the many artistic and scholarly creations it has inspired. More details are available here. If you haven’t yet made plans to attend the meeting, there is still time!

Madonna Alice and Six Tweedles Living in a Disney World

You know how it is. You read an email alert which leads to a blog, which leads to a YouTube clip, which leads to you spending 6:31 minutes watching a 1987 spoof of Madonna’s “Material Girl” starring Alice and six men in Tweedle suits, shot entirely on location and out of hours in Disney World, Florida.

It’s brilliantly awful, but if for any reason you can’t quite watch it all, at least skip to the end to read the extensive credits. Prominent thanks are given to the Walt Disney World Character Wardrobe, on the principal that sometimes it is easier to ask forgiveness than permission, I assume.

 

New Snark choral piece charms with smiles and soap.

Naxos has released composer Maurice Saylor’s “magnum opus” The Hunting of the Snark: An Agony in Eight Fits, on CD and where all fine digital music files can be downloaded. You can hear the excellent Cantate Singers toss lines from Carroll’s poem around in a choral whirlwind, accompanied by Saylor’s Snark Pit-Band. The other tracks on the album, music Saylor wrote for silent films and played by The Snark Ensemble, are also really fun. Listen to excerpts of Amazon’s mp3s (individual tracks for $0.89, or the whole album for $11.68), or buy from iTunes here. The Snark Ensemble pictured below, Maurice Saylor second from right:

Your Monday morning Vocaloid musical

Monday morning off to a dull start? Transform it with this Vocaloid musical created by the Japanese artist known as Oster Project.

The part of Alice (and possibly all the other parts as well – I’m shaky on the technology here) was “sung” by Hatsune Miku, a singing synthesizer application which was created using vocal samples from Japanese actress Saki Fujita. Hatsume Miku, one of many singing personas created using the Vocaloid software, has become a virtual idol: her album topped a Japanese weekly album chart and she even performed “live” in Tokyo in last year.

 

Gillian Welch sings “White Rabbit” on NPR

The great country revival duo, Gillian Welch (with Dave Rawlings), released their first album in almost a decade, The Harrow & the Harvest. (It’s really good.) They went on Fresh Air with Terry Gross to schlep it, and at the end of the show, Gross asked them to play a cover, “to surprise us with a song that we might not think that they like.” They chose Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” and it’s a pretty damned beautiful cover of that song. Starting at 41 minutes into the show, Welch explains why they chose that song, and then their version of it gets cut off for the credits. HOWEVER, naturally, they’re hawking it as a special single on iTunes, for $1.29. Remember what the dormouse said… “That I can’t remember,” said the Hatter.