Penelope’s Song

 

Instrumentation: Amplified viola and electronic playback; Amp. violin and electronics; Amp. cello and electronics; Soprano sax and electronics; Amp. clarinet and electronics; Amp. flute and electronics
Duration: 9:00
Premieres: 

9/17/03
Laura Wilcox (Viola)
Musica Viva Festival, Coimbra, Portugal

3/28/06
Tim Summers (Violin)
Musikhuset Lille Sal, Aarhus, Denmark

4/9/06
Maxine Neuman (Cello)
Cutting Edge Series, Symphony Space, Thalia Theatre, New York, NY

10/25/07
Susan Fancher (Sop. Sax)
Weatherspoon Museum, Shake it Up Festival, Greensboro, NC

10/29/08
Marianne Gythfeldt (Clarinet)
University of Delaware, Wilmington, DE

10/06/13
Lindsey Goodman (Flute)
Elizabeth Pastor Recital Hall, Ashland University, Ashland, OH

Program Note:
Penelope’s Song is a tribute to Penelope, Queen of Ithaca and wife of Odysseus. It was inspired by Homer’s Odyssey, which tells of the travails of Odysseus, including his ten years at war in Troy and then, due to the sea-god Poseidon’s wrath, for ten more years. There is little focus on Penelope, left waiting for all that time, with many greedy and arrogant suitors attempting to woo her to become king. To stave them off she devised excuses. 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. This piece sings of her, giving voice to her experience and response to her own challenges. The electronics were created from recordings I made of Charlottesville weaver Jan Russell working on her wooden looms. I processed and shaped these, weaving a new sonic fabric, and then treated the acoustic and digital elements as warp and weft of a new tapestry. Penelope’s Song, in the original scoring for amplified viola and electronics, was premiered by Laura Wilcox at the Musica Viva Festival in Portugal in 2003. Since then, I have made additional versions for amplified flute, clarinet, soprano sax, violin, and cello. – JS

Press Quote:
“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, it was written for and performed by violist Rozanna Weinberger with an electronic accompaniment based on the steady, repetitious sound of wooden looms…The work, receiving its U.S. premiere, was dramatic and effective.”
Charlottesville Weekly

Judith Shatin’s Penelope’s Song is a compelling piece of musique concrète using the sound and rhythm of a weaver’s loom to tell the story of Odysseus through his wife’s view.
Gramphone

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