Three Summers Heat

Excerpt: “Midsummer”

Instrumentation: Soprano (or mezzo) and electronic playback; Soprano (or mezzo), flute, viola, and harp
Duration: 19:00
Commission: The Barlow Foundation for the Sistrum Ensemble

Marilyn DeReggi, mezzo
Synthèse 89, Bourges Festival, France

Azure Ensemble
Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theatre, New York, NY

Program Note:
Three Summers Heat, for mezzo or soprano and electronics, is a setting of sultry seasonal poetry of Tzu Weh, a fifth-century Chinese poet. The new version is scored for soprano, flute, viola and harp. Tzu Weh’s images of summer and of the stages of romantic relationships are brief but telling. Each of the seven poems focuses on a particular mood which I have tried to amplify through the shape of the vocal lines, the development of electronic timbres, and the relationship between the two. The third song, for example, sings of rowing a boat on Rose Hibiscus Lake on a hot summer day while the electronic accompaniment shimmers like a mirage, with occasional sonic drops splashing on the surface.

The electronic portion of Three Summers Heat was created at the Virginia Center for Computer Music (VCCM) at the University of Virginia in 1988-89, using a MIDI-based system controlled by the HMSL Computer music language. This program, developed by Messrs. Burk, Polansky and Rosenboom at Mills College, was extended by then VCCM Technical Director Pete Yadlowsky. The MIDI devices include a Yamaha TX-802 synthesizer, Roland S-550 sampler, DEP5 effects processor and Alesis MIDIVERB II. The sampled Chinese texts were recited by University of Virginia Professor Anne Kinney and the English by singer Marilyn Boyd DeReggi. The singer is advised to perform with a microphone with the amplitude set to balance the electronics. Slight reverb may be added so that the sonic worlds of the singer and electronics mesh. The English translations, by Lenore Mayhew and William McNaughton, are used with permission from the Charles E. Tuttle Company. For more information, visit –JS

Press Quote:
“Shatin’s Three Summers Heat…used electronically generated sounds in poetic contexts. Haunting taped voices, speaking in English and Chinese, were part of the aural collage that mingled with the declamations of DeReggi, a stylish performer with a knack for interpreting lyrics in unusual settings such as Three Summers Heat.
The Washington Post


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