Gather These Mirrors
SSAATTBB voices and string quartet • duration 20:00.
Texts by Elmaz Abinader, Esam Pasha, Safa Younis Salim, Sadiq al-Saygh, and Saadi Youssef; additional text by Kala Pierson.
Gather These Mirrors is the largest piece to date in my Axis of Beauty project, which began in 2004 as my ongoing answer to the George W. Bush administration's "Axis of Evil" wartime propaganda. Currently there are eight individual Axis of Beauty pieces (including choral, vocal, voice+audio, and audio alone), all based on texts I've collected over the years by living Middle Eastern poets, journalists, and everyday citizens.
History of Gather These Mirrors:
• In 2005-2006, Axis of Beauty received initial development during my residency at Tribeca Performing Arts Center (supported by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council) and I was collecting texts from many sources, with special help from the producers of warnewsradio.org. One of the texts I found was an amazing interview with Iraqi painter Esam Pasha about his experiences during the intital U.S. raids on Baghdad.
• In 2008, I wrote a 4-minute SATB setting of that text (initially titled Esam Pasha, later renamed Blue Phoenix). Blue Phoenix won the San Francisco Choral Artists New Voices Prize and was shortlisted for the 2009 Sorel Medallion.
• In 2012, Blue Phoenix was selected for Dale Warland's Choral adVentures reading at the Chorus America national conference in Minneapolis. In the audience was Robert Nance, Artistic Director of the Heartland Chorale; he heard me talk about my plans to expand Blue Phoenix into a full cycle for SATB and string quartet.
• Later in 2012, Heartland Chorale and the Indiana Center for Middle East Peace jointly commissioned the full cycle.
• On 3 November 2013, Gather These Mirrors was premiered in Fort Wayne, Indiana, by the Heartland Chorale under Robert Nance, with members of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic as the string quartet.
• Future availability: Heartland Chorale holds exclusive performance rights until 3 November 2014 for the U.S., Israel, West Bank, and Jordan, and until 3 May 2014 for all other countries. (Exception: the existing SATB a cappella edition of Blue Phoenix is currently available for all countries. Blue Phoenix has been performed in U.S. states CA, IN, MA, and MN.)