“The Source” is a 62-minute chamber oratorio by Ted Hearne (b. 1982), libretto by Mark Doten, first premiered at the Next Wave Festival at the Chamber Academy of Brooklyn in 2014. There are seven instrumentalists.
There are 13 poems or songs, with iconoclastic titles and texts, based on US military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2005 to 2010. Much of the material comes from the “Iraq War Logs” and “Afghan War Diary” and incorporates materials from formerly classified military communications leaked by Bradley Manning, now Chelsea Manning,
Some of the material even comes from tweets, such as when another soldier Lamo debates whether to turn Manning in. Some songs depict violent events, such as an IED explosion (the first song) and others depict political negotiation and even the question about moderate Islam.
The last song is “I encrypt as much as I can”, where Bradley/Chelsea characterizes him/herself as “very intelligent” and “very effeminate”, as if curiously elitist given the tone of today’s culture wars.
The music is angular, with voices in clear, parallel harmonies and rather simple chants.
The work has been performed at the Disney Center by LA Opera in Los Angeles. https://www.laopera.org/Source The New York Times has commentary here.
This is the sort of idea that gets commissioned these days. My own compositional taste is for large post-romantic, broken into miniatures sometimes, but still more in the tradition of classical instrumental and symphonic music that I grew up with (Schoenberg and Berg sound post-romantic to my ear now, but that’s as far as I got.
This work really ends quietly, with Sprechstimme of spoken voice only, “I opened up the computer and just talked.” No wonder Donald Trump says “No computer is safe.”
One would imagine this work as choreographed, too, so that it is full chamber opera. But for that matter, the 10-movement, massive two-piano suite “Shy and Mighty” (2007), by Timo Andres, ought to be choreographed, especially for the East Village.
The work is available on CD from New Amsterdam Records (NWAM071), which I purchased on Amazon (easier than Bandcamp). The composer’s official site is here. The cover has a frazzled picture of Kabul against the mountains.
Wikipedia picture of Kabul.
(Posted: Tuesday, January 10, 2017. at 9 PM EST)