Unavailable for performance.

  • pf
  • SSA
  • 8 min

Programme Note

Composer note:
Menasherie (2015) for SSA chorus and piano solo (7–8 minutes) was commissioned by the Young People's Chorus of New York City, Francisco Nuñez, Director, for their "Transient Glory" series and premiered in New York in April, 2015. There are nine musical settings of humorous poems by the American poet Ogden Nash (1902-1971), all about animals. Full of rhymes on imaginary words ("family"/"calamily"), the poems sound as if they are written for children. Adults, however, have always been Nash's primary audience. The music is simple and direct, with playful musical imitation of the animals depicted, but with layers of harmonic and contrapuntal complexity, in which listeners can exercise their memories of popular dance forms and recognize references to musical classics.

"The Pig" has a grunting accompaniment. The "Rhinoceros" is strangely sweet and wistful. "The Duck," is a perky tango. "The Octopus" has watery, intertwining contrapuntal lines in an eight-beat pattern built on the octatonic scale. "The Fly" is based on Bach's harmonization of the chorale "O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort," accompanied by pitched buzzing. "The Wasp" is a quick, menacing march à la Kurt Weill. "The Guppy" is a graceful soft-shoe. "The Porcupine" has a spiky staccato accompaniment with interpolated "ha-has" and "ouches." The last movement portrays a tiny organism, "The Germ," in a comical fusion of pelvis-twisting 50s rock 'n' roll and echoes of The Rite of Spring. The poems are set with the permission of the Ogden Nash Estate, represented by Curtis Brown, Ltd. The composer recommends that copies of the text be provided for the audience whenever the work is performed.

— Robert Xavier Rodríguez