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Sven B. Schreiber
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Sven B. Schreiber This gigantic work really deserves the attribute "masterpiece". It's a joint effort of three extraordinarily creative women: Composer Sarah Kirkland Snider, lyricist Ellen McLaughlin, and vocalist Shara Nova (named Shara Worden then) of "My Brightest Diamond", whose voice is clearly distinguishable out of a million. Ellen McLaughlin's amazing concept is put to life by Sarah Kirkland Snider's incredible music scenery. In her own special way, she blends demanding dissonant textures with sublime melodic lines, resulting in timeless chamber music that leaves me open-mouthed. Favorite track: Calypso.
Amateur
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Amateur Enrapturing instrumentals, disarming vocals, and a moving story brilliantly told. This has become my favourite work of music. Favorite track: Circe and the Hanged Man.
Reven
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Reven What an inspiring work. The whole cycle is worth hearing and feeling, but Nausicaa is a brief moment of comfort amidst the long bittersweet journey. Favorite track: Nausicaa.
Jez Templeton
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Jez Templeton An audio journey. Be moved. Also, Shara Worden (aka My Brightest Diamond) makes everything worthwhile. Favorite track: Baby Teeth, Bones, and Bullets.
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1.
I have a house Looks out to sea And this is where he came The stranger with the face of a man I loved To the house by the sea Long time, long time gone A sort of home It’s this house That what’s left of his mind Seems to have remembered So what’s left of his mind Claims the house as his Though it’s been mine and mine alone since he left me here He left me here Half a life ago But this is where he came The stranger with the face of a man I loved In this house Where the best of our times I try to remember And the rest of the time I try to forget The times he lied and lied Before he just left me here The stranger with the face of a man I loved In the house by the sea Long time, long time gone A sort of home
2.
I’d give a lot I’d give a lot to hear him tell me lies like that again tell me much of anything. It’s true, he talks It’s true, he talks, but it’s not Anything like it was then Anything like it was when he talked the way a bird sings, just to sing. This is what you’re like Do you remember? This is what you once were like. You are a man who when the music dies away You keep on dancing And when there’s nothing left to say You tell me lies You wrote a poem You wrote a poem about me Swimming in the open sea You loved my eyebrows and my stomach and my knobby knees I loved your mouth I loved your mouth and every story that you told to me Where is it you’ve gone? How can I find you? I heard you weeping in the dawn But you won’t say if I can bring you back alive I’ll come and find you I can’t help thinking you survived Just went astray. This is what you’re like Try to remember This is what you once were like Where is it you’ve gone? How can I find you? Where is it you’ve gone? Do you remember, you are a man who Told me you loved me You are a man who told me you loved me, Do you remember? This is what you’re like Try to remember
3.
The honeyed fruit they offered dripped forgetfulness. Those who tasted it fell where they were, dreaming, their faces smeared smiling with the sweetness of the end of any desire for home. I drove them, weeping, to their rowing benches and tied them in, but still they moaned, straining to look back over their shoulders at the disappearing shore, like children carried off from their calling mothers.
4.
Down the ward, the men are dreaming, drooling in their cots. Pricks of blood in every elbow, I am no better. It’s just that I’m awake It’s just that I’m awake and walking. Walking. Hear my footsteps down the hall. Now I’m smelling the night air, crunching gravel as I walk, walk, walk. Never, never, never, never will I never will I sleep like that again Never, never, never, never, never, Never will I sleep like that, sleep like that… And I’m lost in this night I’m lost in this night I’m already lost, but not as lost as them And I’m lost in this night I’m lost in this night I’m already lost, but not as lost as them my sleeping, drooling, smiling men I’m not as lost, I’m not as lost I’m not as lost as them.
5.
Nausicaa 02:59
Don’t be afraid, Stranger I’m not afraid, I’m not afraid of you. You look so lost, Stranger But you’re not lost, ‘Cause I’ve just found you. Just take my hand, Stranger Just take my hand And I will lead you home.
6.
“Is he dead?” the Stranger said No, she tells him. Say you bounce a ball Have you ever noticed that Between the business of its going up and the business of its fall it hesitates? It just waits There’s a fraction of a second there when it’s luxuriating in the air Before its fate rushes it on. “But he’s hanging there” Yes, he’s hanging, yes, but from the tree of life “Is he some sort of sacrifice?” Yes, he’s a sacrifice… He gave himself to himself so he could see. He gave himself to himself so he could see. He gave himself to himself so he could see. He gave himself “So he could see?” As only you can see When the world is upside down And you hang From the branch of a tree “So that’s me?” Yes, it’s where you seem to be. And you hang from the branch of a tree. “So that’s me?” Yes, it’s where you seem to be. “So that’s me.”
7.
He says, “Oh, Mother, I am so sad to see you here. I didn’t know. What happened to you?” She says, “I died of waiting. Year after year, I stood the days out, squinting across the water that never showed your sail. One day my hollow heart cracked to powder like an old egg and I fell where I stood, eyes still clinging to the empty horizon.” Bitter with longing Odysseus reaches out to his mother. Three times he tries and three times he fails. She is as untouchable as smoke. He says, “Oh, Mother, why can’t I hold you in my arms? Is this some fresh cruelty the gods devised to trick me?” She says, “It is only death, my son. It is the end we all come to. You and I had our last embrace long ago, in the sunlit world above. Such things can never happen here. Go back, my child. You will be here soon enough, and that is a return I shall not rejoice to see you make.”
8.
Home 06:23
Home is where I’m going, but never coming Home is someplace I can’t recall, but head for still. Across the waste of water I search for her, Dear blue land, show your blessed curve So tiny and only mine. No, no, you can’t go home, she says, the world, where do you think you’re going? We’re not done with you. No, no, you can’t go home, she says, the world, where do you think you’re going? We’re not done with you. The world is never done with you. The world wants her travelers to stay lost. The world swats their eyes as they run through it, She grasps at them, pulling and tugging, She grasps at them. No, no, you can’t go home, she says, the world, where do you think you’re going? We’re not done with you. No, no, you can’t go home, she says, the world, where do you think you’re going? We’re not done with you. The world is never done with you. Not you.
9.
Dead Friend 02:48
Dead friend Turn your back on me I beg you Do not look at me With those eyes Dead friend I must leave you here I can’t stay You can’t follow me Where I go Dead friend Turn your back on me Let me go I’ve forgotten you Forget me I’ve forgotten you Forget me
10.
Calypso 04:46
But I do think of her Standing in that parking lot The stars are out, night drops down on her She is alone again. She’s alone again. She holds his cooling dinner in her lifted hand. Something he just might like Sweet or salty, no one will eat it now. She looks for him in darkness, stands alone now once again tries to see where he might have gone, where could he go, She looks for him in darkness, stands alone now once again tries to see where he might have gone, where could he go, without her.
11.
Tiresias prophesies for Odysseus in the Underworld: I know you, Captain, all you want in this world is to see the honey light of your own home at last. But there is more trouble to come for you. Poseidon hates you and your way home is through him. He will make it hard for you yet. But if you can hold fast to restraint, there is some hope. You shall find yourself sailing past the Island of the Sun God. Helios, who sees all and hears everything. Helios, from whom nothing is hidden. See his many cattle, sacred to the world, they dapple his island slopes like banks of clouds. They are beautiful and they are holy. But Captain, let no one interfere with them, even if you’re starving. If any man so much as touches them, everything will be taken from you, all your men, your last ship, everything. And then you shall be lost indeed, your fine mind will be useless against the fury of the sun.
12.
Open Hands 01:06
Here’s an ugly little something, Broken bit of who knows what Here’s a bloody little secret What I did and what I thought Here is what I lost forever Open hands, a certain laugh Here is what I thought I wanted Some lost smile in a photograph
13.
Let a wind come Let a wind come blow it all away Let a rainstorm Let a rainstorm swallow me Can’t you do that? Can’t you hide me, God? Can’t you… Save me from you (save me from you) Sweep me someplace you can’t see (Hide me some place) I am known here (God help me I’m known) Open eye, open eye staring down on me. Yellow sky, yellow sky staring down on me. I am known for what I am. I am known by you (Let a wind come and blow it all away) I am known by you (Let a rain storm, let a wind come, and blow it all away) I am known by you (Let a rain storm, let a wind come, and blow it all away) Can’t you… Save me from you (save me from you) Sweep me someplace you can’t see (Hide me some place) I am known here (I am known by you.) Let a wind come Let a wind come, blow it all away. Blow it all, all away.
14.
It moves like a live thing in his hands The story, his story Bloody and sacred, truth and lie, The story, his story And it tells itself, the pages turn and tell themselves, Backwards and forwards, Backwards and forwards, Backwards and forwards like the tide. It moves like a live thing in his hands The story, his story Bloody and sacred, truth and lie, The story, his story And it tells itself, the pages turn and tell themselves, Backwards and forwards, Backwards and forwards, Backwards and forwards like the tide.

about

PENELOPE is a song cycle by composer Sarah Kirkland Snider, with lyrics by playwright Ellen McLaughlin, featuring vocalist Shara Worden and the chamber orchestra Signal. Inspired by Homer's epic poem, the Odyssey, PENELOPE is a meditation on memory, identity, and what it means to come home.

Suspended somewhere between art song, indie rock, and chamber folk, the music of PENELOPE moves organically from moments of elegiac strings-and-harp reflection to dusky post-rock textures with drums, guitars and electronics, all directed by a strong sense of melody and a craftsman’s approach to songwriting.

PENELOPE originated as a music-theater monodrama, co-written by McLaughlin and Snider in 2007-2008 and commissioned by the J. Paul Getty Center. In the work, originally scored for alto/actor and string quartet, a woman’s husband appears at her door after an absence of twenty years, suffering from brain damage. A veteran of an unnamed war, he doesn’t know who he is and she doesn’t know who he’s become. While they wait together for his return to himself, she reads him the Odyssey, and in the journey of that book, she finds a way into her former husband’s memory and the terror and trauma of war.

In 2009 Snider re-conceived PENELOPE as a song cycle, expanding and tailoring it to the unique talents of vocalist Shara Worden and the chamber orchestra Signal, and collaborating with programmer Michael Hammond on sound design. Worden and Signal, under the direction of conductor Brad Lubman, recorded this version of PENELOPE with producer Lawson White November 3-6, 2009, at Clinton Studios in New York, NY.

credits

released October 26, 2010

Sarah Kirkland Snider, composer; Ellen McLaughlin, lyrics; Shara Worden, vocals; Brad Lubman, conductor; Signal, orchestra; Michael Hammond, sound design; D.M. Stith, album art and cover design

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Sarah Kirkland Snider Brooklyn, New York

Deemed "one of the decade's more gifted, up-and-coming modern classical composers" (Pitchfork), composer Sarah Kirkland Snider writes music of direct expression and vivid narrative that has been hailed as "rapturous" (The New York Times), "groundbreaking" (The Boston Globe), and "poignant, deeply personal" (The New Yorker). ... more

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