Remembering 9/11 through new music

Friday, May 17, 2013

On June 20, 2013 family members from Tuesday’s Children, an organization committed to providing long-term support and services for the children of 9/11, will travel to Putney for Yellow Barn’s Young Artist Program, participating with its musicians (composers and performers ages 13-20) in the process of creating new music that memorializes and brings unique perspective to the events of 9/11. YAP composers Christopher Theofanidis, Stephen Coxe, and Steven Mackey will guide a collaborative composition along with YAP performance faculty, often drawing on personal experience with writing and performing commemorative pieces, including Christopher Theofanidis's opera Heart of a Soldier, which was commissioned by the San Francisco Opera for the 10th Anniversary of 9/11.

During their week in Putney each of the six Tuesday's Children participants will collaborate with a YAP composer and ensemble, resulting in six short bagatelles that together form a commemorative piece, which will receive its premiere performances on June 27 and 28. The Tuesday's Children participants also will be working independently and as a group on memory projects based on their own interests (art, theater, photography, and writing) under the guidance of mentors from those fields who will be joining the YAP community on campus at the Greenwood School. Clifford Chanin, Director of Education at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, will provide additional insight and lead a discussion with everyone involved with the project.

In addition to performances of the new work, audiences will have the opportunity to view the participant's independent projects and on June 26 participate in a public conversation with Clifford Chanin about the events of 9/11, memory, and memorialization.

Learn more about Yellow Barn's partners

Tuesday's children participants

Kelly Butler
Montana Cortez
Aidan Fontana
Robert Pycior
Juliette Scauso
Richard Wang


Edie Bresler, photography
Michelle Burgess, art
Michael Fleming, poetry
Bill Kelly, art
Bonnie Mennell, art
Barbara Whitneytheater

Yellow Barn's 2013 Summer Artwork

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Harry A. Rich, Monument to Unknown Mountain Poets, 2010, 48×48", acrylic on canvas

Monument to Unknown Mountain Poets is part of a series honoring the thousands of unheralded poets, playwrights, music makers, etc., who have sought out the unseeable, spiritual mountain legacy found here today among our Taconics, Greens, and Whites—a legacy from a time not so long ago when our mountains were the height of the Central Asian Himalayan range. That original soaring mountain essence is alive today, drawing and nurturing us all.

—Harry Rich

About Harry Rich

Harry Rich’s paintings grow out of the soil of the New York School, remaining within the Modern tradition. A graduate of Pratt Institute (BFA) and Wesleyan University (MA), he moved to Sandgate, Vermont, with his wife the painter and writer Mallory Rich fourteen years ago, confident that Vermont’s aesthetic charms would not influence his studio work. Wrong!

A lifelong painter, Harry has taught, founded enterprises, consulted for profits and nonprofits, along the way receiving international, national, and regional honors for design. Asked to give a brief statement about his approach to creative work, he quoted Michael Kimmelman, former New York Times chief art critic who wrote in 1999, “Making music is a way to be in touch with the divine.” “I would include the word ‘painting’ with Kimmelman’s ‘music’,” Harry said.

Looking back on a Yellow Barn Artist Residency

Monday, April 1, 2013

Cellist Jay Campbell offers the following comments about his artist residency with pianist Conor Hanick (video and audio recordings below):

In his 1909 publication Debussy, the French musicologist Louis Laloy writes, "In all groups of society, in all countries, beyond all borders and beyond the seas, the purest music of today recruits unknown friends. In this sense, the only true sense, music may be called universal. And this power is more sure than ever guaranteed to music by its recent progress." Interestingly, by using the word "progress", Laloy makes no distinction between established tradition and the many directions to which it develops over time—rather, they are the branches and sub-branches of a single trajectory. Like all other things, music history is forged walking backwards into its own future while observing at the past. As Arnold Schoenberg writes in his Style and Idea:

"My originality comes from this: I immediately imitated everything I saw that was good...I acquired it in order to possess it; I worked on it and extended it and it led me to something new. I am convinced that eventually people recognize how immediately this 'something new' is linked to the loftiest of models that have been granted us. I venture to credit myself with writing truly new music which, being based on tradition, is destined to become tradition."

It is with that in mind that an array of composers have been assembled, all of whom are also eagerly looking to what is ahead: the meticulously expressive quality of Matthias Pintscher's haunting Figura V / Assonanza, gently hovering against a canvas of silence, Claude Debussy's homage to the French clavecinists Couperin and Rameau, Charles Wuorinen's intensely lyrical use of the 12-tone method, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach's emotionally intuitive yet harmonically progressive surface, and so on. While the composers presented are probing retrospectively, the breadth of creativity is staggering—far from derivative, these composers look to the past to achieve unique and innovative design.

Ultimately, the goal of this program is to explore a dialogue between the rich and varied musical language of today contrasted against a framework supplied by pioneering Baroque composers. But rather than contrasting the surface-level disparity between Baroque and modern repertoire, such as tonal systems, perhaps what is more alluring lies in finding the connections, contrasts, and the grey area between two compositional orientations: the structurally rich, disciplined approach of those such as Charles Wuorinen and J.S. Bach, and a more free, improvisatory mode of composition, like that of C.P.E. Bach and Wei-Chieh Lin. These categories are of course by no means strict ones—certainly none of the composers or works belong exclusively to a singular compositional approach, but by making those connections between Baroque and contemporary works, light will hopefully be shed on the ècriture of the composers represented, helping to make the compositional activity itself more visible.

Jay Campbell and Conor Hanick performed their program at Next Stage in Putney on March 1, 2013 and at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas under the auspices of Music From Yellow Barn on March 8, 2013. The following video of the first set from their performance at the Nasher Sculpture Center exemplifies the aims of their project. (video courtesy of Andrew Baldwin)

Additionally, we would like to share their performance of Charles Wuorinen's Iridule and Jay Cambell's performance of David Fulmer's Star of the North, which received its world premiere performance at the March 1st performance in Putney, Vermont.

Sunny Yang is a Kronos

Monday, April 1, 2013

Composer in Residence Brett Dean congratulates Sunny Yang at Yellow Barn (Photo: Zachary Stephens)

Yellow Barn alumna Sunny Yang recently accepted a position as cellist of the Kronos Quartet. Artistic Director Seth Knopp took this opportunity to congratulate Sunny and talk about her 2011 performance of Berg's Lyric Suite at Yellow Barn.

The Reason for Cuatro Corridos

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Jon Potter writes for The Brattleboro Reformer:

"What would your life be like to be in a place where you’re held against your will physically, but even if you get out of it, you’re still a slave not just because of physical restrictions, but also because you’re also invisible in society?"

That was the question Susan Narucki posed, as she discussed her new venture, a chamber opera about human trafficking across the U.S.-Mexico border. She added, "I can’t even put into words how outrageous this is."

So she and some collaborators are putting it into words...and music.

Soprano Narucki, writer Jorge Volpi, four composers and three other musicians are in Putney this week working on the music for "Cuatro Corridos," a new chamber opera based on real events from the frontlines of the immigration issue. They are here as part of Yellow Barn’s Artist Residency Program, sweating the musical details in preparation for a May 8 premiere in San Diego, Calif.

"It never occurred to me that there was so much trafficking in humans across the border," said Narucki. "It’s a kind of abuse of human rights that is under the radar."

Narucki connected with a friend of a friend who was interested in writing a libretto about this. From there, the idea of a chamber opera grew.

"One of the things that opera does best is it can tell us about emotionally complex feelings and situations and not always in words," she said. "So much of this is charged with emotion. I can’t imagine that it could be a play because it is too charged."

Narucki is not sure what effect "Cuatro Corridos" will have, but she’s happy to do her part.

"I’m an artist not a politician, so what can I do? I don’t know if it’s actually going to raise awareness of the problem, but it’s just what I can do," she said. "For some time, I have been interested in performance projects that take the music of our time and put it in the context of community."

Read the full article

Read more about the Cuatro Corridos Artist Residency in Putney, VT

Introduction to Cuatro Corridos

Monday, March 25, 2013

In pre-Hispanic times, the village of Tenancingo in the Mexican state of Tlaxcala—then an independent dominion—was characterized by a strange and obscure tradition: the rearing of prostitutes to be sold or handed over to the enemy, generally a rival Nahua tribe. The girls were chosen in early childhood and brought up especially for the purpose.

The curious thing is that, many centuries later, this appalling tradition continues, except that now it is the parents themselves who send off their daughters to swell the ranks of the prostitutes. For years now, there has existed a human traffic between this small village and the U.S.-Mexico border, in which young women are sold and exploited by mafias to serve as prostitutes for illegal migrant workers in southern California.

In 2001 the authorities dismantled the network of the Salazar Juárez brothers—Julio, Tomás, and Luciano—who for years had been kidnapping Mexican women and forcing them to work as prostitutes in the so-called Fields of Love near the strawberry farms around San Diego. The case was brought to light in a well-known investigative report published in The New York Times Magazine.

The libretto of Cuatro Corridos (Four Corridos) is based on this two-nation border story of human trafficking, to be told by four of its central characters: a female member of the Salazar Juárez brothers’ kidnapping ring (Dalia); a Chicano policewoman in San Diego, who discovers the ring and functions in a way as the narrator of the story (Rose); and two of the victims, young women from Tlaxcala forced to work for months in the Fields of Love (Azucena and Violeta).

The Mexican women will sign in Spanish (with occasional allusions to Nahuatl), while the policewoman Rose will sing in English (with occasional Spanish expressions). As the title of the opera suggests, the libretto will be in verse, generally the lines of four feet typical of the Northern Mexican ballads known as corridos.

Jorge Volpi

Read more about Cuatro Corridos and the performance on March 30, 2013 in Putney, VT