Two works of vocal chamber music performed around a communal table. thingNY premieres a new music-theater work by Rick Burkhardt and then members of Varispeed join the things to perform their new arrangement of Kenneth Gaburo’s masterpiece Maledetto from 1968.
Rick Burkhardt’s Passover, commissioned for thingNY, is a performance-ritual for six singing/speaking instrumentalists seated at a dinner table on which there lies a double bass. Each performer relates the story of a friend’s escape: from a bad marriage, from an unfair situation at work, from a run-in with a traffic cop, from an ethically compromising opportunity, from an awkward family dinner. Ultimately, it becomes clear that all of these friends form one collective identity. This commission has been made possible by the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program, with generous funding provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Chamber Music America Endowment Fund.
Then thingNY and Varispeed celebrate the semicentennial of Kenneth Gaburo’s 1968 cult-classic Maledetto with a new homespun arrangement. Maledetto is a fusion of taxonomy lecture, absurdist inner dialogue, Dadaist choral music, and your uncle’s dirty jokes for seven “virtuoso speakers.” It is the masterwork for Gaburo’s theories of compositional linguistics. Varispeed’s arrangement updates the piece for the twenty-first century by splitting up the original authoritative voice among the collective and passing the seven roles around the table, like a dinner platter, in an attempt to uncouple patriarchy and heterosexuality from the piece’s incredible exploration of the vocalist as singer, storyteller, and orchestra.