Erythros: Four Variations in Red (2006-2007)

for solo soprano, SATB chorus, chamber ensemble (1-1-1-1, 0-1-1-0, str 1-1-1-1-1), dancers and video projection
in 4 movements
ca 35 minutes

in collaboration with Laura Hiszczynskyj (choreographer), Jefferson Goolsby (video), Reza Safavi (video)

Text: Mary Queen of Scot, Robert Southwell, various newsclips

Premiére: 03/10/07 in Daugherty Dance Theater, University of Oregon.

Jennifer Russell, soprano

Heather Holmquest & Nicole LeBlanc, soprano
Lauren Green & Kristine Pack, alto
Stephen Rodgers, tenor
Luke Carlson & Aaron Manela, bass

Eugene Contemporary Chamber Ensemble:
Heather Cairns, flute
Mari Hiner, oboe
Maddelyn Banahene, clarinet
Brian Ellingboe, bassoon
Tim Leopold, trumpet
Louis Olenick, trombone
Gordon Tsai, violin I
Tricia Buzzard, violin II
Jayme Kurland, viola
Ralph Stricker-Chapman, cello
Ben Wheeler, bass

Jerry Hui, conductor

Erythros: Four Variations in Red is a 35-minute work for large chamber ensemble, SATB chorus, soprano solo, dancers and video projection. It is a collaboration among Chiwei Hui, Laura Hiszczynskyj (MFA choreographer), Jefferson Goolsby (MFA video artist) and Reza Safavi (MFA video artist). The central inspiration of this four-act work is the diverse cultural symbolisms of the color red – thus the title Erythros, the Greek root of “red”. Each act is inspired from a particular image or symbolism. The first act, Conflict, displays violence and its consequence. The second act, Loss, laments the loss of one’s beloved. The third act, Fragmentation, examines the artificiality of the industrial and modern society. The fourth act, Passion, explores the boundary between lust and love. Erythros is a study in orchestration, intending to achieve a wide spectrum of styles and a grand sound of a large orchestra with a smaller chamber ensemble.


Act I: Conflict

Scene 1: War

Scene 2: Aria

Scene 3: Chorus

Act II: Loss

Act III: Fragmentation

Act IV: Passion

Excerpt of “Un coeur que l’outrage martyre” (Text for Act I, Scene 3)

a text attributed to Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587)

En feinte mes amis changent leur bienveillance,
Tout le bien qu’ils me font est désirer ma mort;
Comme si en mourant j’étais en défaillance,
Dessus mes vetements ils ont jeté le sort.

With feigned goodwill my friends change toward me,
All the good they do me is to wish me dead,
As if, while I lay dying helplessly,
They cast lots for my garments round my bed.

“At Fotheringay” by Robert Southwell (1561-1595) (Text for Act I, Scene 2)

My scaffold was the bed where ease I found;
The block a pillow of eternal rest.
My headsman cast me in a blessful swound
His axe cut off my cares from cumbered breast.

Rue not my death, rejoice at my repose;
It was no death to me but to my woe,
The bud was opened to let out the rose.
The chains unloosed to let the captive go.

A Prince by birth, a prisoner by mishap;
From crown to cross from throne to thrall I fell,
My right my ruth, my titles wrought my trap:
My weal my woe, my worldly heaven my hell.

By death from prisoner to a prince enhanced,
From cross to crown from thrall to throne again,
My ruth my right, my trap my style advanced
From woe to weal, from hell to heavenly reign.

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