Bloodsong for mezzo-soprano, chamber orchestra, and fixed media
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Bloodsong is a fifty-minute monodrama in one act for mezzo-soprano, chamber orchestra, and fixed media. The piece was written for vocalist Ellie Jarrett Shattles and received its world premiere at the University of Texas at Austin in September 2015. Writing the story, libretto, and music for this piece led to certain systematic approaches and methods throughout the creative process that differed greatly from my previous work as a composer. The piece raises questions about organized religion and sexuality through the point of view of a crazed, blood-obsessed religious fanatic named Elizabeth who believes she has been called by God to seek out and murder hatemongers within congregations all across the South. Bloodsong offers a glimpse into her mind as she recalls moments throughout her life and her secret crusade that ultimately leads her to the conclusion that she must take her own life. These memories and musings are presented as a dramatic song cycle in five scenes that incorporate five of her most beloved hymns. This treatise provides a close examination of specific influences and agencies that went into the work’s construction. The first chapter explains important background information and technical considerations regarding the story, libretto, selection of hymns, and fixed media design. The second chapter provides a scene-by-scene analysis focusing on techniques and processes that illustrate specific interactions between various musical and dramatic elements.