The Story of Our Journey
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The Story of Our Journey for clarinet, fixed media electronics, and projected video is a 50-minute musical work commissioned by the City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture for their IN FLUX program. Audio and video interview footage provided by refugee advocacy organization Their Story is Our Story allows the refugees themselves to share details of their journeys from Africa to Italy, from Afghanistan to Central Europe through Greece, and from Honduras to the United States. In partnership with the commissioner, clarinetist Csaba Jevtic-Somlai and I are arranging diverse performances to reach maximally diverse audience representative of Phoenix, Arizona’s demographics. The writing process involved composition strategies that I had never before explored. The music flows from interview fragments dissected from the documentary footage. Commonalities among stories form the basis for seven movements, titled: “So…,” “An Opportunity,” “I Counted Them Myself,” “The Water We Drink,” “Go, Go, Go!,” “Deep in My Heart,” and “Still Looking.” Themes include deceit, the consequences of warfare, gang violence, malnourishment during extensive travels, border crossings and immigration control, and integration into a new community. However, the resultant textual counterpoint among the interviewees is only one layer of semantic and musical interaction. The clarinet, synthesizers, and electronic processing 1) mimic the interviewees’ speech patterns, 2) highlight the noise profiles and other background elements in the interview audio files, and 3) recontextualize the implications of the speech. The clarinet part prolongs the speech patterns into flowing melodies that showcase the instrument’s registral and dramatic range. A video component adds another layer of thematic associations to the work. Everyday objects in motion receive new meaning against the backdrop of intense stories. Still images and interview footage from Their Story Is Our Story explore the foreign, the familiar, and the universal. Overall, The Story of Our Journey reveals the individual behind the refugee label through exploration of dualisms found within the refugee experience, including humanity versus inhumanity, the frustrated unheard voice versus the story told, and the pains of the past versus the hopes and insecurities regarding the future in music, voice, and video.
Table of Contents
Abstract -- Acknowledgements -- List of illustrations -- Commission and compositional process -- The story of our journey -- Description of video component -- References -- Vita
D.M.A. (Doctor of Musical Arts)