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Jennifer Fitzgerald - How Terrible Orange

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...One day I am thinking of
a color: orange. I write a line
about orange. Pretty soon it is a
whole page of words, not lines.
Then another page. There should be
so much more, not of orange, of
words, of how terrible orange is...
-- Frank O'Hara
"Why I am Not a Painter"

I have been a musician since childhood, but throughout my life I've flirted with dreams of thrilling professions: women's rights advocate, translator, poet, painter. I've fantasized that these professions possess deeper meaning than my career as a pianist or composer - music always seemed so indirect to me, its representations of human values and the great questions of life are abstruse, if there at all. At times I've been convinced that with these other professions I could communicate the things that I believe in more directly.

Frank O'Hara's narrator suffers the same dilemma that I do.

I am not a painter, I am a poet.
Why? I think I would rather be
a painter, but I am not.
O'Hara's narrator finds the color orange temptingly expressive, but the narrator identifies as a poet and can say much more as a poet, than as a painter. Correspondingly, I am a composer, and have to say my piece through music, not through words or images.

how terrible orange is a manifestation of the performer relationships within my long-term ensemble, pulsoptional. The classical guitarist and I (the pianist) had performed primarily as soloists before we began playing with pulsoptional while the other instrumentalists had a tremendous amount and variety of ensemble experience, including rock and jazz. The piece is in three parts - two related outer sections that frame an inner core. The outer sections are characterized by two main ideas that compete with each other. The saxophone, voice, electric guitar and percussion raise hell with a series of monolithic chords in terrifyingly difficult rhythms. At the same time, the classical guitar and piano play continuous figures of a more melodic character, but while the material that the guitarist and pianist play is similar, they rarely play in unison. They must struggle to stay together while the rest of the ensemble wails around us. The inner section is the moment in which we all find each other and play together to achieve the same musical goal.

credits

from pulsoptional, released April 6, 2007
Composed by Jennifer Fitzgerald
Carrie Shull, English horn; Todd Hershberger, bassoon; marc faris, electric guitar; John Mayrose, classical guitar; Jennifer Fitzgerald, piano; Thom Limbert, drum set and marimba

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