monsters and mandolins

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one Concert only 3pm March 31st

Ravel Tombeau de Couperin, Offer Ben Amot’s Concertino for clarinet soloist Shannon Scott and mandolin soloist Sierra Hull, and Duncan Nielson’s The Monster featuring The Choral Arts Ensemble and woodcuts by Liz Gill Nielson.

THE MONSTER, Notes by composer & portland local duncan nielson

This piece tells the story of Frankenstein’s Monster, from the perspective of the creature himself, excerpted from Mary Shelley’s original 1818 novel, Frankenstein. When we read Shelley’s novel, we were impressed with the beauty and eloquence of the Monster’s language as he speaks to his maker, Victor Frankenstein, and describes his experience. We were also impressed by the deeply poetic and genuine connection that the Monster feels with the natural world—the changing of the seasons, the birds and beasts in the forest, which do not outright reject him, but do highlight the fact that he is the only one of his kind. This Monster is a very different character than the one portrayed in almost every movie and pop culture reference that we could find, and we wanted to give him a chance to speak through this project. We have not elaborated upon Shelley’s tale, but rather distilled the essence of the Monster’s narrative out of it. The bracketed text below is a synopsis of events portrayed in each movement. The italicized text, sung by the choir in movements one and three, is directly from Mary Shelley’s text. 

There is an eerie timeliness to Mary Shelley’s story; in particular the way that human beings have increasingly rearranged the natural world to their own ends, recombining it or polluting in it often with little concern for long-term consequences. A friend of ours connected recent headlines (the oil spills, the super-storms and wildfires due to climate change) with this story and noted about our culture: “We are Frankenstein.” 

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