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Music Composition Professor’s “ORATORIO FOR THE EARTH” receives World Premiere at CSUF

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Music Composition Professor Pamela Madsen’s “ORATORIO FOR THE EARTH” will receive its World Premiere Performance on May 14, at 3 p.m. in Meng Concert Hall.  ORATORIO FOR THE EARTH received project awards from National Endowment for the Arts Project Award (2020-2022), New Music USA Project Award (2019), and Artist Fellowship Awards from the Women’s International Studies Center (2019), MacDowell Colony (2019), Ucross (2019), and American Scandinavian Foundation Award (2020).

It will be performed by the CSUF Symphony Orchestra and CSUF Symphonic Chorus.

The event will feature Kimo Furumoto, Robert Istad, and Chris Peterson, directors. There will also be guest artists, The New Music Vocal Ensemble, HEX, Fahad Siadat, director.

James Hayden, Bass-Baritone will perform as soloist.

ORATORIO FOR THE EARTH is a concert-length multi-movement work for orchestra, choir and soloists, created for CSUF Symphony Orchestra, Symphonic Chorus, and the New Music Vocal Ensemble HEX with Project Awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and New Music USA. Reflecting upon the need for deep listening in the wilderness, social justice and the global ecology of self-consciousness; resonance of the human body with the earth, and the rivers and stars that connect us, the work captures Madsen’s journey as composer in the wilderness across the world from Siberia to the American West weaving a narrative of concern for human rights, social justice, women, nature and threat of imminent world destruction. These global concerns are manifested through texts by German poet Rainer Maria Rilke, traditional liturgical Latin texts, psalms settings and earlier American poets from Sarah Teasdale, Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, and the American pioneer, mystic, writer and environmentalist Mary Hunter Austin, whose work concerns the marginalization of indigenous cultures and desecration of women and nature correlated with concerns for the destruction of the environment.

The large-scale structure of the seven movement ORATORIO FOR THE EARTH follows the seasons of the earth from fall: Lost Horse Mine Lament, to Winter: Center of All Centers, to Spring: Now the Hour Bows Down and summer: Earth Horizon. Each work was composed and influenced by Madsen’s travels and artist residencies during 2019-2020 where these works were created. The four larger sonic landscape works depicted move from “Lost Horse Mine Lament”-created in the Mojave Desert-Joshua Tree of the wilderness of the desert southwest, to the wild west of “Center of All Centers”-composed during residency at UCROSS, Wyoming in the Big Horn mountains, to the somber reflection of the season of Tenebrae in “Now the Hours Bows Down” composed during residency at MacDowell Colony, New Hampshire during Lent/Easter Season, and finally the expansive “Earth Horizon,” composed during residency in the Desert South West—at Acequia Madre House, Women’s International Studies Center, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and as composer in residence at Crystal Cove, in my hometown of Laguna Beach. These four larger, core works for Orchestra, Choir and soloists are separated by shorter interludes for HEX vocal ensemble, and soloists based on Rilke’s O Lacrimosa (tearful sorrows) and the traditional Latin text: Adoramus Te (We adore, thee). I initially completed the work for full orchestra and choir for premiere May 9, 2020, but this was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The interludes of the O Lacrimosa movements were composed in 2021-2022 as a reaction to the deep sadness for the earth and reaction to ongoing battles with illness and the global pandemic.

“My deep thanks and heartfelt gratitude to Eric Dries, who patiently listened to my daily composing of this work at the piano, then carefully assisted in editing and listened again, and again to my revisions,” said Madsen. “And to the belief and fortitude of my colleagues to press on, regardless, despite COVID cancellations of 2020-2021, to program this work now in its new revised form in 2022. Thank you Kimo Furumoto, Rob Istad and Chris Peterson, for believing this work, and guiding generations of students through to its completion and premiere. Thanks to Nicholas Isherwood, who commissioned the original darkest work of this ORATORIO: Now the Hour Bows Down for The Electric Voice with Quintan Ana Wikswo, video, electronics, which was  performed throughout the world over 15 times, before COVID shut us all down, and then once again, performed at CSUF now in April 2022, as a solo work. And finally for HEX Ensemble (SSATBB), Director Fahad Siadat and bass-baritone soloist James Hayden, for their extraordinary capabilities as a vocal chamber ensemble to step in when the work expanded to take on new depths of this project in this current season.”

Pamela Madsen