Nick Virzi: "Phoenix" for Quintet (2019) | TAK Ensemble
Written for Soprano, Flute, Clarinet, Percussion, Violin Performed by the TAK Ensemble Phoenix is a song based on the epic poem The Conference of the Birds, composed during the 12th Century by the Persian poet Farid Ud-Din Attar. As an allegory for purification and the attainment of enlightenment, this literary masterpiece follows the birds of the world on their quest for the Simorgh, the sovereign king of all birds. Led by the wise Hoopoe, a real bird whose onomatopoetic song appears ephemerally throughout the piece, and a mythical figure in many literary works (such as Aristophanes’ The Birds), the birds journey through the Seven Valleys of the Way in search of the Simorgh. The first stage is the Valley of the Quest; Then Love's wide valley is our second test; The third is Insight into Mystery, The fourth Detachment and Serenity – The fifth is Unity; the sixth is Awe, A deep Bewilderment unknown before, The seventh Poverty and Nothingness - The title Phoenix refers to the meta-abstraction of the processes of death and rebirth which one must endeavor in various guises during the Seven Valley of the Way, in order to sacrifice those human faults which prevent one from reaching enlightenment and reclaim those virtues which are essential to the quest. Throughout the poem, the birds seek for the Simorgh, losing many of their number along the Way. This is later revealed to be a pun – thirty (si) birds (morgh). The thirty birds who survive the journey find that they themselves are the Simorgh, and the metaphysical embodiment of the King which they sought. The journey was in Me, the deeds were Mine – You slept secure in Being’s inmost shrine. And since you came as thirty birds, you see These thirty birds when you discover Me, The Simorgh, Truth’s last flawless jewel, the light In which you will be lost to mortal sight, Dispersed in nothingness until once more You find Me in the selves you were before. Text: The Conference of the Birds (ca. 1120) by Farid Ud-Din Attar Translated by Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis ‘Before we reach our goal,’ the Hoopoe said, ‘The journey’s seven valleys lie ahead; How far is this the world has never learned, For no one who has gone there has returned – Impatient bird, who would retrace this trail? There is no messenger to tell the tale, And they are lost to our concerns below – How can men tell you what they do not know?
Nick Virzi: "Linguaglossa" for Vocal Sextet, Narrator, and Film (2018) | Ekmeles
Performed by Ekmeles Vocal Ensemble Text adapted from the travel journals of John D. Virzi, my father, written during a pilgrimage to our ancestral home of Lercara Friddi, Sicilia, on Friday, September 19th, 1986. Film adapted from the personal collection of Leonardo DiBella, my great uncle, recorded during the years 1965-1987 in both Italy and America – primarily, Sicilia and New York. Locations that can be seen in the selected scenes of Linguaglossa include Passopisciaro, Piedimonte Etneo, and Taormina, all in Sicilia, and Astoria, Queens in New York. Program Note: Linguaglossa is a small town at the base of Sicilia’s Mount Etna, formed at the divergent point of a volcanic lava stream in 1566 – and, along with Lercara Friddi, another place to which my family may claim ancestral lineage. Literally translated, Linguaglossa means “tongue tongue”, with lingua as the modern Italian word for tongue, or language, and glossa as the ancient Sicilian word of the same meaning. As such, this town represents the meeting point of the new and the old, the past and the future, with the forked tongue of Etna’s fiery mouth singing outward from the eternal present. Nearby towns surrounding Etna include Randazzo, Passopisciaro, Piedimonte Etneo, and coastal Taormina, as seen and heard in Linguaglossa. Throughout the text, there are several references to this mythical sense of time. For example, it is implied that Lercara Friddi was founded in the year 0, or perhaps 1 BC. A similar mythic ethos surrounds other aspects of my father’s experience – most notably, space, character, and image. The musical aura that envelops my narration of this story adds a third generation to my family’s continuing journey of artistic self- exploration and reflection through the dimensions of film, literature, and music.
Nick Virzi's RAIN SPELL - Brendan Faegre Edge Ensemble
The Brendan Faegre Edge Ensemble performs Nick Virzi's "Rain Spell" http://www.edgeensemble.net/ http://www.nickvirzi.com/ Six Views From the Edge, at the Korzo Theater in The Hague, Netherlands 10 April 2015 Notes from the composer: "The power of single moments or occurrences is often underestimated when compared to their antitheses: stretches of time that seem to make up the reality of experience. In life, it is often these singular moments that are the most meaningful to us, as they provide new perspectives on our collective experience and allow us to re-contextualize things in relatively positive or negative ways. Rain Spell deals with this relationship between the momentary and the longer lasting, through sections of stark contrast in content and proportion. Using musical metaphor, gradually shifting layers of texture and sound, and guided improvisation, the mimetic/sonic representation of a storm is juxtaposed with its literal and poetic antithesis (sunlight), which serves as a personal reflection and conveyance of my own views on apparent hopelessness, and hope." Christof May - soprano saxophone James Hewitt - baroque violin Rembrandt Frerichs - piano Brendan Faegre - drums, director Giovanni Bermudez - bass Peter Lemmens - sound