Composer Spotlight: Daniel Felsenfeld
Dark Circus is tonight! There will be popcorn…
We’re premiering Daniel Felsenfeld’s Something Wicked, and here’s what he has to say about the creepiness of circuses:
I’ve always been a little afraid of the circus. Clowns have always scared me more than just about anything, as have freak shows and tests of strengths. But the truth is I’ve been to very few actual circuses—only one, in fact, and that recently, and I went with my toddler who delighted and then slept and the whole thing was harmless and actually fun. But the horror persists. My own visions come from movies like Shadows and Fog, Dumbo and The Elephant Man; and from books like Geek Love, Wonder When You’ll Miss Me, and of course looming largest, Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. When I was a kid, I remember thinking the novel was about being old; as an older person, I now understand the book is about being young. Either way, it continues to scare the life out of me.
The movement titles of my Something Wicked (I. “The Maze Does Not Ask” and II. “The Maze Does Not Tell”) come from the text of the book, and while I only vaguely understand what they mean—something about aging and play and the fear of losing what is dear to a child, of giving up childish things—I think perennial questions with inconclusive and open answers can only be properly asked in musical terms. So both movements are in odd versions of the rondo form, a form in which things materialize and re-materialize, but more are my iterations of the books central Carousel, wherein grotesques appear and re-appear in a somewhat-sadistic loop. The surface of the first movement is Britten-like in its irony (the decorousness belies deep, dark subterranean activity) and the surface of the second is sad and pretty and also masks black depths. And the carousel keeps going around and around and around. It always does.