mezzo soprano (or tenor), bass clarinet, percussion (vibes/toms/bd), piano
text by Ana Emilia Saenz
first performance on 4/12/19 by students of Texas A&M University-Commerce for the 2019 SCI Region VI Confrence
program notes (written by Ana Emilia Saenz and Tanner Harrod)
Fiery Sea follows the lamentations of a narrator as they question whether their dedication and loyalty to their audience is worth continuing. This struggle is represented musically between the vocal soloist and the bass clarinet, who at times perform as a unit, while other times compete with one another. As the narrator continues to question their own actions they are drawn back to their initial question of “Do I stay in your grasp?” This alludes to the notion that the choice to stay has either been a personal choice or a gilded form of manipulation. Relationships and connections that begin to take on a negative force at times disguise themselves in the idea of routine and fear of change. This text and music aim to portray this experience.
The text exposes the very fear of leaving for one's own good but rather than portray the ideal choice of leaving or improving, the narrator falls back into the routine. Saenz highlights this cycle rhetorically through the repetitive use of “starlight” at the beginning and end of the poem; Harrod highlights this cycle harmonically, beginning with dissonant material, gradually progressing towards a more consonant tonality, but ultimately returning back to the original harmonic territory. The author and composer hope to relay that change is not always immediate and even when the cycle of self-destruction or toxicity continues there is still the possibility of choice, recovery, and change. While there are cycles and pain and heartbreak and loss, the weight of those burdens do not have to be carried without help. We are all human. We all make mistakes. We can all heal. And we are not all alone.
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