Berri is a dramatic musical composition for large chamber ensemble (Piccolo, Flute, Bb Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, 2 Violins, Viola, Cello, Bass, Piano, and Percussion) and narrator. The text for the narrator is an original one, drawing from the narratives and themes of Edgar Allen Poe’s short story “Berenice” and Taras Shevchenko’s poem “Katerina”. Berri is constructed in two large parts, each with seven movements, along with an introductory “Toccata” and a concluding “Epilogue”. The first part consists of a relatively straightforward exposition of the two chosen narratives, alternating between one and the other between movements. The music reflects this with primarily contrapuntal writing underscoring the Poe story, and more textural and abstract music beneath the Shevchenko poem. The main source for the musical language in Part I is an extended melodic line that appears first in its original form in the beginning of Movement IV - The Devil Jumped Over the Mountain. In Part II, the narrator breaks into character (Egaeus, the main character from the Poe story), addresses the audience in a dramatic role, and retells the narratives in a new and combined form, backwards. The music for this second part is more fluid and consistent in its ideas from one movement to the next. The primary source of melodic and harmonic material for Part II is the Epilogue, which is constructed from the melodies of three old Soviet/Communist propaganda songs. The overall effect of the work is a dramatic and musical arc that is nonlinear, and invites the listener to form her own opinions on the nature of the narrative, the relationships of the characters involved, and any ultimate underlying message of the story being told
D. M. A.