A Far Cry with Luciana Souza, Vocalist: The Blue Hour
Since its launch in 2007, Boston's A Far Cry has taken an unusual approach to the making of orchestral music. Seventeen musicians opted to start a communal, self-conducted string symphony in which leadership was shared and feedback was offered ground-up, not top-down. The approach has worked beautifully, generating a record label, a GRAMMY nomination, commissions, and critical accolades, including a spot on the year-end lists of New Yorker critic Alex Ross.
For The Blue Hour, a new evening-length commission, A Far Cry engaged a group of five composers - Rachel Grimes, Angélica
Négron, Caroline Shaw, Sarah Kirkland Snider, and Shara Nova - to work, like the ensemble, as a collective, creating a collaborative work for string orchestra and voice. The composers set excerpts from Carolyn Forché's poem On Earth, an abecedarium - in which the poet starts each new section, and in this case each line in that section, with a new letter of the alphabet. The poem offers a recitation of memories from a life nearing its end:
a barnloft of horse dreams, with basin and bedclothes
a bit of polished quiet from a locked church
a black coat in smoke
a black map of clouds on a lake
a blackened book-leaf, straw and implements
a blue daybook hidden in my bed with his name
a branch weighted with pears
The resulting song cycle is performed by A Far Cry and the acclaimed Brazilian vocalist Luciana Souza.