Instrumentation: Amplified violin + electronics
Violinist Tim Summers
Musikhuset Lille Sal, Aarhus, Denmark
Penelope’s Song is a tribute to Penelope, Queen of Ithaca and wife of Odysseus. It was inspired by Homer’s epic, the Odyssey, which tells of the travails of Odysseus, but comments from Penelope’s point of view. Odysseus 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 years. The story also tells of Penelope, left waiting for him for all that time, and of the many suitors, filled with greed and arrogance, who tried to woo her in order to become king. To stave them off she devised many 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 sings of her adventures.
The electronics were created from a recording I made of Charlottesville weaver Jan Russell working on her wooden looms. I processed and shaped these materials, weaving a new sonic fabric. Penelope’s Song, originally scored for amplified viola and electronics, was premiered at the Musica Viva Festival in Portugal in 2003, and received its American premiere at TechnoSonics IV at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2004. The version for amplified violin and electronics was premiered by Tim Summers at the Musikhuset Lille Sal in Aarhus, Denmark on 3/28/06. It has since been recorded by Hasse Borup on the Innova label on Tower of the Eight Winds, a disk of my music for violin/piano/electronics. .–JS