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Thea Musgrave

Publisher: Novello & Co

The Mocking-Bird (2000),
commissioned jointly by the Serge Koussevitsky Foundation in the Library of Congress, with the approval of the Librarian of the Library of Congress, and the Koussevitsky Music Foundation, Inc., and by Boston Musica Viva.
Text Writer
Thea Musgrave, after Ambrose Bierce
Publisher
Novello & Co Ltd
Category
Opera and Music Theatre
Sub Category
Chamber Opera
Year Composed
2000
Duration
28 Minutes
Language
English
Soloist
Baritone
Programme Note
Thea Musgrave The Mocking-Bird (2000),
Musgrave has described this work as follows: “ I believe that war is a barbaric and primitive way of settling inevitable differences between nations and peoples, and these stories of Bierce show that, of all wars, civil war is perhaps the most devastating. He has an almost journalistic way of describing details of place and situation alongside wonderful poetic imagery; it is perhaps this style that gives his stories their evocative power. It is 1861 and as The Mocking-bird opens we see a soldier, Sergeant Grayrock, on picket duty. He is lost, and fearful that he is in fact lost behind enemy lines… and is bitter at this situation. [For him] the mocking-bird is a joyful memory of his earlier years, those golden days of his youth when life was happier.”

Performances
Date
Title
  • 16 NOV 2013
    Boston, U.S.A.
    Boston Musica Viva
    Richard Pittman, conductor
  • 03 MAY 2002
    The Mocking-Bird World Premiere
    Tsai Performance Center, Boston
    Boston Musica Viva
    Randall Scarlata, baritone; Richard Pittman, conductor

Reviews
The monodrama is a small but choice subdivision in the world of music. Now the 21st century has produced its first contender, Thea Musgrave’s extraordinary anti-war parable THE MOCKING-BIRD. [It is] a dramatic display of Musgrave’s talents. Musgrave’s decades of experience of writing every kind of music show in the precision of her craftsmanship—the adroit and evocative use of the six-instrument ensemble; the clear and meaningful text-setting (the libretto is her own); the skillful writing for voice; and above all, the flexibility of the music, which moves from military tattoos through recitative, a mimicry of military voices that anticipates the appearance of the mocking-bird, to superb lyrical music of an idyllic past that tugged at the heart and already lingers in the memory. At the end the mocking-bird’s song embodies a ferocious irony that merges with an all-enveloping compassion; there is moral truth within this manipulative plot.
Richard Dyer, Boston Globe,1/1/0001
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