Instrumentation: Amplified flute and electronics
Elizabeth Pastor Recital Hall, Ashland University, Ashland, OH
Penelope’s Song was inspired by Homer’s epic, the Odyssey, which is about the travails of Odysseus, who was away from home for twenty years, first at war in Troy and then, due to the sea-god Poseidon’s wrath, for ten more difficult years. It also tells of his wife, Penelope, Queen of Ithaca, waiting for him, and of the many suitors, filled with greed and arrogance, who tried to woo her so they could become king. To stave them off she devised excuses. In one, she said she would take no suitor until she finished weaving a shroud for her husband’s aged father, Laertes. But, since she unraveled at night what she wove by day, she made no progress. Instead, she actively waited for Odysseus’ return. This piece is a tribute to her, and sings of her own adventures. The electronics were created from a recording I made of Charlottesville weaver Jan Russell working on wooden looms. I processed and shaped these materials, weaving a new sonic fabric. This version of Penelope’s Song was commissioned by, and is dedicated to, Lindsey Goodman. The original was composed for viola, and there are now also versions for violin, cello, clarinet, and soprano sax, the latter recorded by Susan Fancher.
“Judith Shatin’s Penelope’s Song is inspired by the story of Odysseus’ wife, Penelope, who, while waiting for her husband’s return, spent two decades weaving at her loom and keeping at bay numerous suitors who wished to supplant him. Musically depicting Penelope’s determination, faith and despair, this version was written for and is dedicated to Lindsey Goodman.”