COMPOSITIONS

The Miracle of the Walking Fish (2011)

for baritone and guitar
texts by Jackson Bliss
35 minutes

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Program Note

 

The Miracle of the Walking Fish is a story about the transformation of Love, centering on a boy who leaves Todos Santos, a town in Baja California full of artisans, artists, even expats from North America, to find his father in California.  But instead of finding his dad, the boy meets a Peruvian girl in Los Feliz, and falls in love with her.  Together they take a bus to Santa Monica, connect to each of their homelands on the beach, and then they throw the boy's twin stones back in to the Pacific Ocean.  This is the beginning of their new life together as two Americans living in a city of new beginnings.

 

The music is designed to convey the sense of motion and natural lyricism in the texts.  Extended techniques and timbral effects in both the voice and guitar are frequently used to portray thematic ideas.  For instance, the twin stones and their symbolism for family are depicted by guitar harmonics surrounded by tranquil sonorities, while muffled colors such as tambora (striking the strings rather than plucking) represent heat, dryness, or heaviness.  An eclectic range of styles is introduced from movement to movement, from rock, to melodious, to abstract, depending on the mood or setting.  The first six songs are written in Spanish, as their setting takes place before crossing the border.  As the man begins his new life in California, the texts switch to English.  Both the first and last movements describe contrasting memories of events at the beach, and therefore, a motif for “Todos Santos” recurs in both movements.  A similar parallel occurs in the San Gabriel movement: just as the world is reborn with the sound of Gabriel’s proclamation, the mountains reemerge into view after rainfall in Los Angeles.  The following movements center on particular towns in the county, and a cross between a lullaby and a love-song precedes the final movement. 

 

The Miracle of the Walking Fish evolved from the Writer and Composer course at USC, co-taught by professors Frank Ticheli and David St. John.  Two of the songs were performed during the spring of 2010, and both Jackson Bliss (graduate writing student) and Laura Kramer (graduate composition student) had continued to collaborate after the conclusion of the course.  A total of twelve songs and four guitar interludes were completed in full by the summer of 2011, and the work was premiered on September 24, 2011.  It was awarded a 2012 BMI Student Composer Award.

Download PDF

Score and Parts

$49

Printed 

Score and Parts

$63 + shipping

Copyright © 2017-19 Laura M. Kramer