on an original poem of Misha Penton
Soon Cho, mezzo-soprano; Ames Asbell, viola
Recording session - May 1, 2017
Commissioned by and dedicated to the Texas State University Chorale and their director, Dr. Joey Martin
by Misha Penton
My little boy stands
With his back to where he’d like the trees to be
Darkness smooths out the low baby hills
into a starless not-yet horizon
laid out before his eyes in I-want-to waves
His blue jeans, all dirt and wonder from an afternoon wishing for sun
His hair, barely blonde on the
not-yet first ever night breezes
His freckles, a pattern of tomorrow worlds,
Running-through-cornfields sweat and the very newest bee pollen dust
a striped blue and white grass stained shirt, untucked on this
not-yet first ever day
He breathes in beauty
He breathes out imagination
His small hand closes on the marble in his pocket
“This will be a special one,” he thinks
“This will be the best of the bunch”
“This is the last one”—
In a swooping swooshing swirl of an arc,
Quicker and more certain than the other times,
He casts the little multicolored sphere out! and over the out-of-breath
And last skipping seconds of childhood
Up, up, up!
And into the soonest celestial expanses
And what was that?- a snap? a crack? a shudder? a thunder?
In less than a trillion-trillionth of a second
All Is stars and breath and life and blood and men and war
I have enjoyed a long and rich creative collaboration with the poet, artist, soprano, and mover-and-shaker Misha Penton. My first opera, Klytemnestra: the original subversive female, was written on her original libretto and she premiered the title role. Her work on my couture song The Captured Goddess continues to inspire me. And so it was that I asked her if she would honor me by allowing me to set her poetry to music once again.
All Is is a creation story refashioned. In Misha’s tale, God is but a little boy wasting away the afternoon while toying with clouds and marbles, imagining the beginning of a world in the same way that a child discovers for the first time. And behind this young boy is the Mother: always watching and observing, caring from behind the scenes, and taking pride in the new world that her child is creating. This character is taken in the music by the mezzo-soprano.
My music is restless and unbridled, as a child who fusses and pouts when not wanting to be restrained. The music is optimistic as a child is naïve, until the final warning words of the work: creation is not just fun and games, but brings with it the possibility of tragedy, usurpation, and deceit.
Dr. Joey Martin and the Texas State University Chorale commissioned this work from me, and I am glad to share a wonderful history of collaboration and friendship with Joey and his students. I lovingly dedicate this work to them.