Synopsis A voice lives in every person that questions existence, that, when pressed, is willing to believe that violence can somehow find explanation in hope. Sometimes lives depend upon this hope, but what happens when the threat is gone and the questions remain? The music in 'Perish, the Thought' flows from that voice and speaks directly to a connection that draws humanity into one, a place where all people gather, though, not often in public acknowledgment. Beautiful and lyric melody plays upon sharp layered rhythms and creates a textural enticement for pop and classical lovers alike. Featuring The Rocky Mountain Chamber Singers, Columbine Quartet (Gyongver Petheo, Annamaria Karacson, Ethan Hecht and Marcelo Sanches), Elizabeth Caswell Dyer, soprano, Marta Burton, mezzo, Ryan Connell on organ and David Harris conducting. Recorded live by Justin Peacock at Denver's Christ Church Episcopal, May 23rd, 2009 under the concert titled 'Perish, the Thought.' From Whitman's "Scented Herbage Of My Breast" Yet you are beautiful to me you faint-tinged roots, you make me think of death, Death is beautiful from you, (what indeed is finally beautiful except death and love?) O I think it is not for life I am chanting here my chant of lovers, I think it must be for death, For how calm, how solemn it grows to ascend to the atmosphere of lovers, Death or life I am then indifferent, my soul declines to prefer, (I am not sure but the high soul of lovers welcomes death most,) . . . Give me your tone therefore O death, that I may accord with it, Give me yourself, for I see that you belong to me now above all, and are folded inseparably together, you love and death are, Nor will I allow you to balk me any more with what I was calling life, For now it is convey'd to me that you are the purports essential, That you hide in these shifting forms of life, for reasons, and that they are mainly for you, That you beyond them come forth to remain, the real reality, That behind the mask of materials you patiently wait, no matter how long, That you will one day perhaps take control of all, That you will perhaps dissipate this entire show of appearance, That may-be you are what it is all for, but it does not last so very long, But you will last very long. -Walt Whitman The Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew This cantata explores the ubiquitous complexities surrounding death by juxtaposing texts from the first century AD (The Secret Book of James and the Gospel of Thomas), the 14th century AD (the chant "Appostolo Beato') and the 19th and 20th century AD (Robert Louis Stevenson's "Prayer" and Pablo Neruda's "A Few Things Explained"). Particularly, these texts wrestle with the nobility that humans often assign to death and the manner of death. They reflect on what meaning these matters can ascribe to life. They ponder the definition of life and whether one can be living and yet dead (a popular religious and secular sentiment). The words offer hope for the living (e.g. Stevenson's words "Give us courage and gaiety and the quiet mind") while offering critique on humanity's self-destructive impulses (e.g. Neruda's words "Out of dead houses metal blazes instead of flowers"). Although each author presents death in a drastically different context, their connection to one another is striking and knocks at the heart of humanity, namely, our similarities even in difference. The music continues in the lyrical mode of my most recent compositions and employs rhythmic and harmonic layering also found in who are you, little i and Ascendit Deus. The choir, accompanied by organ and string quartet, sings supplicant lyrics to St. Bartholomew, seeking support for life from one fallen in a senseless killing. Soloists outline the narrative of Bartholomew's story, and both choir and soloists offer reflection from the two represented Gnostic gospels and the 20th-century poets. The organ and string quartet each play vital roles as accompaniment and as musical reflection in solo movements. The Frail Stag Both this piece and The Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew found their inspiration in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Upper West Side annex, The Cloisters. The cantata comes from The Florence Laurdario (book of chants) that The Cloisters has on display and The Frail Stag from a 15th-century French tapestry bearing the allegory of a stag hunt, one that depicts human mortality. In the tapestry, Old Age hunts the stag (mankind) with the help of her hounds whose names are grief, anxiety, fear, cold, heat and toil. This activity occurs in the foreground of the tapestry. In the middle, an adult man fishes from a boat and in the background several children play with a puppy along a road. The Frail Stag for chorus is in three movements. The first bears the tapestry's text that describes the activity in the foreground image that represents the end of life. The second movement is from the poem "Pense Morir" by Pablo Neruda and reflects adulthood's principle challenge, the quest for meaning and love. 'And a little child will lead them' from the book of Isaiah finishes the set. Instead of a focus on loathing, the choral cycle, in contrast to the tapestry, suggests that life springs from death, and that perspective offers relief from the pain of aging. The music flows from the text. In the opening movement, sopranos and tenors trade a cycling agitated melody as the bass and alto bemoan the fate of the stag. The second movement flows more freely as the lower parts support the soprano with a Latin-derived rhythmic ostinato. The final piece floats unassumingly, adding parts as it moves toward the end. String Quartet My first string quartet takes it's departure from the text printed on "The Hunt of the Frail Stag" tapestry, with each of the movements named for one of the dogs who attack the stag. By extension, the music stirs thoughts of mortality and time. It moves from a G minor ostinato (Peine) over which the viola sings a languid melody, to an aggressive second movement (Soussy) built on layered polyphony, free-flowing rubato and haunting ostinato (Froet et Chault) and quiet rhythmic control (Doubtace), to the aching persistence of the final movement (Laboir). Moments of untroubled beauty mingle with fast-paced textural conflict.