I Heart Rosa Luxemburg; Or, Why Embracing Socialism Should Result in the Irrevocable, Systematic Rejection of the Major Principles of the EuroAmerican Art Music Tradition (But Seldom Does) (2005)
First things first: Yes, I do heart Rosa Luxemburg, the socialist philosopher and revolutionary who cofounded the Communist Party of Germany and who, along with hundreds of her cohorts, was captured and killed following an unsuccessful uprising in Berlin in 1918.
Yes, I do espouse socialism, but with the same wariness and skepticism that I approach any belief system. And no, I have not entirely rejected the EuroAmerican art music tradition. I'm not sure that I ever could. But it fully deserves to be goosed on occasion.
I Heart Rosa Luxemburg was obliquely inspired by recent political discourse, especially the virulent rhetoric over whether Americans and our institutions are fundamentally conservative or progressive. As an aspiring professor, I've been paying particular attention to the conservative furor over the perceived left-leaning political climate on America's college campuses, and the contention that universities and their faculty essentially brainwash students with liberal propaganda. I don't buy into this line of reasoning, but I have amused myself envisioning how that agenda might play out in the typical college music department. The Western classical canon remains the basis of musical instruction and scholarship today, yet that tradition - with its inflexible hierarchies of class, talent and artistic value - is incompatible with a socialist worldview... so suffice to say, a breakdown would be inevitable.
Similarly, I Heart Rosa Luxemburg is full of "breakdowns," in the form of metric modulations, additive and subtractive processes, sharp boundaries without transition, and intentionally unusual choices of musical materials and shapes. However, these disparate elements are loosely united through a single ascending scalar motive. After eventually grinding to a halt - with Tibetan prayer bowls completing the sense of being outside Western musical turf - the piece returns to the opening marimba pattern, now recast within a metrically mutating quasi-passacaglia that "drives" to an anticlimactic finish.
released April 6, 2007
Composed by marc faris
Carrie Shull, English horn; Todd Hershberger, alto saxophone; marc faris, electric guitar; John Mayrose, electric bass; Thom Limbert, drum set and marimba