Exiles is a performance-art concert (and ongoing commissioning project) presenting dramatic works for a solo pianist who plays, speaks, and sings.
The subject is roots, and within that: distance, estrangement, immigration, travel, place, and change. The focal point is De Profundis – a 30 minute dramatic oratorio with music composed and text adapted by Frederic Rzewski from original text by Irish writer Oscar Wilde (excerpted from his 1895 letter “De Profundis” written in Reading Goal while prisoned for homosexual acts). This powerful piano tome is composed for a speaking, whistling, singing, percussive, and emoting pianist.
The concert also features the devastatingly beautiful Ishi’s Song by Martin Bresnick (about the last Yahi Native American) as well as moving, recently commissioned works by Irish-Australian composers – Kate Moore, Erik Griswold, and William Gardiner (the latter with text adapted by Lisa Moore, drawn from poems, novels, diaries and letters). Ambient sound designed by the Australian composer William Gardiner envelops the space between works.
Little Room* — William Gardiner
Sliabh Beagh* — Kate Moore
Danny Boy adrift in the rising tide – Erik Griswold
Ishi’s Song – Martin Bresnick
De Profundis – Frederic Rzewski (text Oscar Wilde)
* commissioned by Lisa Moore with funding from the Australia Council
“Moore returned onstage a changed person-outfitted in black, her hair loose, and wearing a lapel microphone to unleash an astonishing performance of Frederic Rzewski’s ‘De Profundis’ for speaking pianist…..Moore’s considerable music theatre skills…..what impressed in all these pieces plus a set of etudes and preludes of Scriabin was Moore’s involved approach and the superb clarity of her playing.”
The Australian (for ‘Wilde’s World’ Adelaide Festival 2000)
“Lisa’s playing (and singing) here is, as always, supremely musical and controlled and full of intent, and the piece, like all of Martin’s music, is profound, surprising, and rewarding to delve into. The Ishi of the title was the last of his people–the Yahi Indians–and the piece is based on transcription of a traditional song he recorded after being taken in by anthropologists at the University of California, Berkeley (his story is definitely worth reading). I’ve heard Lisa play (and Martin introduce) Ishi’s Song live a number of times now, and each performance feels like a brief glimpse into a lost world. The original melody is sung and then braided into shimmering, shifting textures, creating a mirage-like sensation, like being on the edge of seeing or grasping something that ultimately remains elusive.“ (Eileen Mack, New Music USA)
“Lisa Moore‘s concert last Sunday afternoon at The Center for New Music drew a standing room only crowd, and those in the audience were treated to an exceptionally well-conceived and performed program of music by living composers…. a large part of her repertoire are pieces for written for piano and voice, which are altogether different from lieder or art songs as the pianist and vocalist are the same. It’s a tricky feat, and one I’ve never seen performed live by a classical pianist, at least like this….De Profundis is a twenty-five minute excursion through the anguish and brilliance of Oscar Wilde’s famous 1895 letter written during his imprisonment for homosexuality. Rzewski’s music captures something fundamental in Wilde’s words, and Moore did both proud, turning in an exhilarating performance, full of fleeting moments instead of approaching it like an epic. When it was over it felt like only a few minutes had passed, and the audience took a moment to let it sink in before giving Moore a sustained, hearty ovation….She followed with Randy Newman’s “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today” as an encore without leaving the stage. It was a suitable, gracious way to end one of the finest programs I’ve attended this year.”
by John Marcher
A Beast in a Jungle
“On her most recent album, “The Stone People,” the pianist Lisa Moore sings and plays Martin Bresnick’s hypnotic “Ishi’s Song,” a setting of a chant by the last member of the Yahi, who died in 1916.”
Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, The New York Times,
April 3, 2016
(Duration: 75 minutes)