Soprano, High Countertenor, Low Countertenor, 'DJ'*
In 1999, David Lang, Julia Wolfe and I were approached to write an oratorio together by a German-based consortium made up of the Dresden Festival, RIAS-Kammerchor and Concerto Koln. Something must have been in the air, because we hadn't yet finished The Carbon Copy Building, and here we were on our second collaborative project.
The principal musical force in the consortium was Concerto Koln, a baroque orchestra. When we met them in Cologne, we spent a considerable amount of time discussing the instruments they used, many of which had been salvaged from flea markets and junk stores. This led us to thinking about lost things in general, some which, like the instruments, are miraculously resurrected.
We asked Deborah Artman to write the libretto for us. We had met Deborah at the MacDowell Colony in the Winter of 1988. Actually, we met her sooner, because she called us up asking if she could get a ride to MacDowell from New York City, and we had all squeezed ourselves into a car along with many keyboards, word processors and books. Over the years, Deborah had been instrumental in helping us, as Bang on a Can, verbalize our message. She wrote the program notes to our first records on Sony Classical and many of our early concerts and marathons. Deborah was a fiction writer and poet, not a musicologist, and we naturally thought of asking her to join this project.
Preparing the libretto involved research and lots of it. Deborah presented us with a huge palette of "lost" objects, too many to include, so many interesting topics and ideas. Julia, David and I each picked the topics that interested us and worked with Deborah individually. Many of the subjects that were not used for the libretto in Lost Objects were eventually included as projection interludes in the live Francois Gerard production at BAM's Next Wave Festival in the Fall of 2005.