This work consists of an illustrated reading of Hart Crane’s "Proem: To Brooklyn Bridge" followed by a slide choreography of composer Dinu Ghezzo’s EYES OF CASSANDRA. In "Proem: To Brooklyn Bridge," the "I" or persona, an alter ego of Hart Crane, portrays himself as a commentator on the human condition and an ardent visionary of the future. As such, Crane was one of the Cassandras of his age, a failed savant who lived amidst the excesses of the Twenties, culminating in the stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression, and died a suicide. Dinu Ghezzo, in his EYES OF CASSANDRA, provides rare glimpses of Trojan princess Cassandra in her career as a visionary before she was taken prisoner by the conquering Greeks and foully murdered. As no portrait of her has come down to us, I use depictions of Crane emblematically to represent her.
Briefly as to the poem, the first and second stanzas constitute a unit, spanning a seagull’s flight over New York harbor at dawn to the end of a work-day, presumably in downtown Manhattan, when people leave their offices via elevators. In its coming and going, the seagull represents unfettered natural life and is symbolic of the creative spirit in man. As of the third stanza and indeed for the rest of the poem, the point of view of the "I" figuratively takes on the characteristics of a seagull—indeed, in its own way dipping, pivoting, making rings, climbing, curving, and finally disappearing from view. In the final stanza, the "I" utters a prayer to the "thee" (the bridge) in behalf of "us"—that its spirit sometime sweep down to us, indeed like the free-wheeling, curving gull, and serve as a symbol of unity and wholeness.
Dinu Ghezzo describes his work as a multilayered sectional composition incorporating the sampled elements of music and poetry from several Web interactive sessions that were later manipulated into a tightly controlled structure with overlapping studio additions. There is a clear path of events, starting with a mysterious and haunting introduction, followed by the emergence of Cassandra in a foggy and distant background, and then by a duet of digital ethnic flute and base clarinet. This evolves into a tense inner struggle, followed by a moment of hallucination (the Savage Birds). A double bass line emerges shortly, carrying shattered images of Cassandra. This is followed by an oriental theme, which returns with an inner mysterious dance texture. The dance evaporates into a frivolous duet between bass clarinet and double bass. A long concluding section returns to the original C sharp center with a trialogue of voices, instruments, and synthesizers.
This is my third version of this work. It was first presented as a color slide show live-synched to a recorded reading of the poem by me and the recorded music at The Kitchen in the spring of 1998 as part of that year’s Field Day sponsored by The Field. A second performance in that form took place in the fall of 1998 at New York University’s Black Box Theater on a program of works composed by faculty and students of the Music Department of New York University’s Steinhard School of Education. The projectionist in both instances was David Forni. In 2001, I re-did the visuals as digital images in Photoshop and, with the help of technician Alexej Steinhardt, created a new version of this work in Flash for the Gallery of the website of my performance group, The Lark Ascending. For this current version, I re-did the visuals once more in Photoshop and did their synching myself in Producer, taking advantage of its sophisticated sequencing features.
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