The May 9, 2009 performance at Carnegie
Hall marked the work’s World Premiere.
Oceanic Verses explores three aspects of a woman’s psyche—the
martyr, the nurturer, and the ruler—sung by three timeless characters: a virgin,
a mother, and a queen. These complex women passionately recount tales that fuse
aspects of personal, social, and political spheres. The work combines fragments
of songs that date back to 3000 BC, field samples I recorded during my stay in
the Salento region of Italy (namely in the electronic backing tracks), and my
own invented songs. Combined, this paints a picture of Italy as it once was, a
cross-section of cultures expressed naturally through song. The songs are in
varying dialects, illuminating the complex ethnic mosaic that colors the musical
soundscape: Byzantine Greek, Arab, Sephardic Jew, Bourbon Spanish, and others.
The ocean surrounds and binds these tales, a narrator of sorts that guides the
listener through a personal journey into a culture I left at a young age. I have
always been fascinated by the human voice and folk traditions, and through this
piece I reclaim the roots I have long wanted to discover. Electronic backing
tracks were compiled by engineer Michael Winger at the Broken Radio Studio in
San Francisco, California. Special thanks to the children at the cooperative
Solidarietá Salento, director Valeria Viganò, and the residency program Sound
Res (soundres.org) for the opportunity to record and work with the children,
producing the taped sounds used in the Fimmene section.
Paola Prestini is director of the non-profit multimedia collective
VisionIntoArt, which has commissioned countless emerging artists and has
performed worldwide since 1999. Prestini’s music has been commissioned and
performed by Concert Artists Guild, ETHEL, WNYC, New York City Opera, the Tucson
Symphony Orchestra, and Kronos Quartet; performed in Carnegie Hall, the Whitney
Museum of American Art, and Joe’s Pub in New York City; and in such festivals as
Etnafest in Italy and the Belgrade Music Festival in Serbia. She is the
recipient of numerous awards from organizations such as ASCAP, AMC, and NYSCA.
Her music is released on Tzadik. She is a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow and a
graduate of The Juilliard School.
current as of February 2010
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