Ben Johnston: Sonnets of Desolation; Visions and Spels
Liner Notes   Cat. No. NWCRL515     Release Date: 2010-01-15
The New Swingle Singers; The New Verbal Workshop

Of his works, Ben Johnston writes:

Sonnets of Desolation was commissioned by the Paul Fromm Foundation for the New Swingle Singers. It is a setting of four of the last sonnets of the British poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. The poems deal with spiritual crisis, with death and with faith. In composing this music I used for the first time all the overtones through the thirteenth partial, which effectively means through the sixteenth. As in the music of Harry Partch, the inverted series is used complementarily. The choral writing is in eight parts, with one on a part. Microphones are used to amplify the voices.

Visions and Spels is a realization of the indeterminate composition Vigil (although the score, a verbal text, was not written down until after the piece was completed). It was composed by the New Verbal Workshop, of which I was, for this composition, a member. I led the improvisations and decided upon the texts to be used. The impetus for composing this work came from an invitation from Patricia Knowles of the University of Illinois Dance Department to compose a piece for the United States’ Bicentennial Year. The first version was performed in 1976, with dancers. After this performance, the Workshop decided to make an independent composition of it. The work is truly a group composition. In part, the impetus to participate in such a composition came from a negative reaction to descriptions of group compositions in mainland China, reported by Cornelius Cardew. Their approach seemed to me be so wrongly based that I vowed to undertake the problem myself in order to make it work as I thought that it could and should. All the texts are by North American aborigines and come from the collection Technicians of the Sacred, edited by Jerome Rothenberg.”



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The New Verbal Workshop

Ben Johnston: Sonnets of Desolation; Visions and Spels

MP3/320 $9.99
FLAC $9.99
WAV $9.99
CD $12.99

Track Listing

Sonnets of Desolation: No. 1
Ben Johnston
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Sonnets of Desolation: No. 2
Ben Johnston
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Sonnets of Desolation: No. 3
Ben Johnston
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Sonnets of Desolation: No. 4
Ben Johnston
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Visions and Spels
Ben Johnston
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