Teddy Death is a new work for voice and chamber ensemble by composer Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon with texts by interdisciplinary artist Deidre Huckabay. In 2022, The Zohn Collective presents world premiere performances in four locations, tentatively: Eastman School of Music in Rochester NY, Cleveland Museum of Art, Vanderbilt University, and Teatro Juarez, in Guanajuato, Mexico.
Teddy Death is a 50-minute songbook for soprano, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, guitar, piano, and percussion. It is also a mourning ritual and a road trip. Over the course of two weeks, Huckabay drives west from Chicago through the U.S. countryside with her favorite childhood plush teddy as her sole companion. (A polar bear with a curved back, she named it Scoliosis when she was twelve.) Each day, she undertakes a ritual practice of disassembling the bear, observing and cataloguing its every fiber, literally sorting through the object for the stuff of attachment. At midday and at dusk, she writes to grieve its disintegrating body. All the while, she stages photographs of Scoliosis that echo sentimental family portraiture. Ultimately, Huckabay produces a chapbook of text and photographs to stand alongside Zohn- Muldoon’s music.
Throughout 2020, Huckabay and Zohn-Muldoon engage in an unusually fluid collaboration, exchanging poems and musical sketches throughout the compositional process in hopes of influencing one another while the score takes shape. For both artists, working on Teddy Death together is an opportunity to experience and learn from the attachments and brutalities of the other’s creative process—an arc of love and loss echoed in Scoliosis’s slow dissolution.
Teddy Death is the most recent collaboration between Zohn-Muldoon and Huckabay, artists who share a 12-year history. Once a student at the Eastman School of Music where Zohn-Muldoon teaches composition, Huckabay played flute in the Eastman BroadBand— a new music ensemble co-directed by Zohn-Muldoon—from 2007–2016. Throughout 2019, Huckabay has written texts for Zohn-Muldoon’s new work Gypsum, a collection for soprano, flute, oboe, violin, cello, and two guitars commissioned by New York–based Cygnus Ensemble, thanks to a grant from the Koussevitzky Foundation. Slated for premiere in New York in May 2020, Gypsum is a series of meditations on the materials and textures of the arid U.S. West. A first-time exchange of text and music between the two, Gypsum affords the opportunity for Zohn-Muldoon and Huckabay to run tests, observe results, and refine the collaboration.
The Zohn Collective rehearses Teddy Death in early 2022 during a tentative residency at the Eastman School of Music, home to Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, the composer of the work. From Rochester NY, the company travels to the Cleveland Museum of Art, and Vanderbilt University before continuing on to Mexico for performances at the Teatro Juárez, under the auspices of the Instituto de Cultura del Estado de Guanajuato.
This is Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon’s Comala, a scenic cantata based on the beautiful novel Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo. Note: if desired, click the CC icon for English subtitles. This video showcases the stellar musicianship of the Zohn Collective in a collaborative performance with Mexican puppet company La Coperacha, with designs based on sculptures from “2501 migrants” by the Alejandro Santiago. Like the proposed project, Comala is a work for voice and chamber ensemble written for the musicians of Zohn Collective. Suggested excerpt: 21:04–26:04.
This is the first song of Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon’s Sones de Tierra Fría, Day, a setting of Shakespeare’s well-known Sonnet XVIII. Musicians of The Zohn Collective perform Day live at the University of Kentucky. Like the proposed project, Day is a compact English- language setting by Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon for the musicians of The Zohn Collective. Suggested excerpt: 0:00–5:00.
Start and End Dates
06/15/2020 — 05/15/2022
Rochester, New York