Contemporaneous (Conductor: David Bloom) - "Moby Dick: Extracts on Death and Other Curiosities" [Excerpts]
Composed by West Fourth New Music Collective: Matt Frey, Tim Hansen, Molly Heron, and Ruben Naeff


About Moby Dick: Extracts on Death and Other Curiosities.


"Echoing the multiplicity of Melville's novel, W4 composers created a collection of responses to themes and events from the book. From a narrative episode depicting the final chase of Moby Dick to abstract meditations incorporating spoken text as a textural element embedded in the music, the evening ranges widely through styles and impressions vividly evoking scenes and emotions from Melville's world. Balancing collaboration and individual expression, each composer engaged with personal areas of interest while together conceiving the flow and experience of the work as a whole. The libretto was crafted by the composers, in some cases using extended excerpts, and other times stitching together lines from across the whole novel." —MATA Interval Concert Series


The following are excerpts from a MATA interview of the oratorio's four composers, Matt Frey, Tim Hansen, Molly Heron, and Ruben Naeff:



"I consider myself more to be a theater artist who uses music to tell stories. So the sections I were drawn to tended to be the ones that painted very clear, immediate staged images to me. I don't expect that these pieces will ever be staged, but I find that if I can't create an image of what a staged version of any of my pieces might look like then I tend to get very stuck. Luckily Moby-Dick isn't exactly devoid of drama so finding three scenes that appealed to me was pretty easy." —T.H.


"I was immediately struck by the cruel, suspenseful and bloody scenes, which I found a great contrast to the other chapters, which were more cerebral or scientific. I also thought these scenes would work very well for being set to music, and I think these movements contrast nicely with the other movements—just as they contrast in the book." —R.N.


"In myriad ways, Melville asks the questions 'Who am I?'; 'What makes me?'; 'How am I connected to the world around me?' Following that thread led me to write the movement 'Call Me,' which is about the difficulty and necessity of our interdependence and brings it back to that famous first line. As tough as it is, at the end if the day I think we all want to be seen for who we are and named by those around us." —M.H.


"When I found a few quotes that spoke to me, I started with those—for example, 'Some ships sail from their ports, and ever afterwards are missing'—and built the rest of my libretti around them. For the 'Some Ships' movement, I found inspiration in the idea of sailors setting out on a journey with the knowledge that it was very unlikely to return. I searched the novel for other phrases that would support this idea, and knitted these words and phrases together into a unified moment."—M.F.



Contemporaneous is a New York-based ensemble of 19 musicians dedicated to performing and promoting the most exciting music of now.


Founded in 2010 at Bard College, Contemporaneous has played over sixty shows at venues including (le) poisson rouge, Merkin Concert Hall, Roulette, St. Ann's Warehouse, Galapagos Art Space, Baryshnikov Arts Center and The Stone. To date, Contemporaneous has performed more than 30 world premieres by such composers as Albert Behar, Conor Brown, Ryan Chase, Kyle Gann, Yotam Haber, Molly Joyce, and Dylan Mattingly. Contemporaneous often collaborates with musicians and artists from other fields, among them pop and rock artists Jherek Bischoff, David Byrne, Sondre Lerche, Amanda Palmer, Zac Pennington, Greg Saunier, Mirah Zeitlyn, Zola Jesus, Fifth Veil, and Yassou Benedict.