This work, my first original one for the Internet, is a nostalgia piece for a world that composer John Bilotta and I see as passing away before our eyes. It consists of a reading of “For a Copy of Theocritus” by nineteenth-century English poet Austin Dobson and a performance of John Bilotta’s musical work THE POEMS TO COME--both illustrated by me.
The form of “For a Copy of Theocritus” is the very difficult and exacting villanelle, which was made famous by Dylan Thomas in his “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.” It consists of two rhymes and two refrains that are employed over the course of five three-line stanzas (i.e., tercets) and a final four-line stanza (i.e., quatrain).
Of his work, composer John Bilotta says:
THE POEMS TO COME was commissioned in 2008 by the Music Teacher's National Association and the California Association of Professional Music Teachers with generous support from the R. Ernest and Sylvia Shepherd Family Living Trust. It was premiered at the CAPMT Annual Conference on February 6, 2009 in San Mateo, California in a performance by ChamberMix.
The work is in two movements and largely tonal with admixtures of atonal material derived from the tone row that underlies all of the musical materials, sometimes quite deeply. The inspiration for this work comes from the lines by E. E. Cummings:
The poems to come are for you and for me
I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing
Than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance
Without trying to be too literal, the first movement spins out an idyllic sense of serenity and uplifting power. In contrast, the second movement revels in wild dancing. While the first movement is built on complex but warm chordal structures, the second movement is built on bright, highly contrasted pitch sets from which the instruments spin out melodic and rhythmic ideas with a distinctly Mediterranean or Middle-Eastern flavor.
These are essentially digital images deriving from film-photos taken by me on trips to Greece in 1968 with a Kodak Instamatic and in 1990 using an Olympus slr with a 20-200mm lens, and from digital photos taken by me recently in the Ancient Greek Collection of the Metropolitan Museum in New York City with a Nikon D-90. Also included are recent videos of a sunrise, a lake, and a fishtank taken in the area of Flagler Beach, FL, likewise with the Nikon D-90. After being loaded into my system, the film and digital photos were edited and composited by me in Photoshop and ended as sequenced slides, with the videos as background layers, in Proshow Producer.
Many of the digital images served as slides accompanying my readings from my novel KLYTAIMNESTRA WHO STAYED AT HOME.