MP3 Michael Roth - Their Thought and Back Again
New Music/Theatre Opera - the kind of collection of songs that Charles Ives might have composed had he lived long enough to encounter rock-and-roll and beat poetry.
9 MP3 Songs
CLASSICAL: Contemporary, POP: Quirky
Michael Roth is a Los Angeles based composer, musician, sound designer, and pianist whose work encompasses chamber music and music and sound for theatre, film, dance, and music/theatre.
He has composed music for over 200 theatre projects and premieres at major theatres throughout America. Recent projects include – on Broadway: BROOKLYN BOY (with Daniel Sullivan and Donald Margulies); off-Broadway: DINNER WITH FRIENDS, PEOPLE BE HEARD, TALKING HEADS, SABINA, SIGHT UNSEEN, and his acclaimed percussion score for THE PERSIANS (also at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, DC, 2006). Music/theatre work includes collaborations with Erik Ehn (FIREFLOW, Los Angeles, 2004), Sarah Ruhl (MELANCHOLY PLAY, Los Angeles, 2005), Mac Wellman (ALLEGORY OF WHITENESS, Humana Festival, 2001), Culture Clash (THE BIRDS, Los Angeles & San Francisco, 1998), and Joy Gregory (PUT YOUR PENCIL DOWN, a musical film for Raw Impressions, 2005). Collaborations with Tom Stoppard include composing the music for the American premieres of his INDIAN INK and THE INVENTION OF LOVE at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. As an artist in residence, his work has been heard in over 45 productions at South Coast Repertory and over 35 at La Jolla Playhouse, including Lee Blessing''s A WALK IN THE WOODS (also on Broadway), GOING TO ST. IVES (also off-Broadway), THE SCOTTISH PLAY, and A BODY OF WATER. Film work includes the independent film HOLY DAYS, Lane Nishikawa’s WHEN WE WERE WARRIORS, Des McAnuff''s BAD DATES, Pierre LaPointe''s TAKEN, and Matthew Wilder’s upcoming YOUR NAME HERE. His collaborations with Randy Newman, as a music director, orchestrator, and editor, include THE EDUCATION OF RANDY NEWMAN, FAUST, and editing three definitive Anthology songbooks for Alfred Music Publishing. Works-in-progress include a new opera with Nell Benjamin and a new music/theatre collaboration with Joy Gregory and Alice Ripley.
The CD of Michael Roth''s acclaimed experimental chamber opera THEIR THOUGHT AND BACK AGAIN was released independently in 1998:
A COMPOSER CUTS UP - ABOUT THEIR THOUGHT AND BACK AGAIN –
Stephen Nunns/American Theatre Magazine
Michael Roth''s THEIR THOUGHT AND BACK AGAIN is an unapologetically eclectic “opera” that conveys wildly disparate elements, from contemporary pop to Anglican hymnals to Erik Satie. In an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink manner, Roth has created a song cycle that is fresh, ironic, and completely American.
Roth, who has been the resident composer at La Jolla Playhouse since 1983 and is currently a resident artist at South Coast Repertory, is California''s busiest theatrical composer and sound designer. His list of composing credits is impressive, encompassing everything from Culture Clash''s THE BIRDS to Lee Blessing''s A WALK IN THE WOODS. This collection of songs-which is really what it is, rather than a traditional opera-began as a collaboration between Roth and choreographer John Malashock that started in 1992. Malashock was fascinated with the idea of singers performing with his company of dancers, and slowly the composer came up with the idea of creating what he calls “formal pop songs” for two singers and a small group of musicians (in the case of this CD, the Elan Ensemble String Quartet) that the dancers could “respond to.”
Heavily influenced by the William S. Burroughs’s cut and paste writing technique, Roth and Malashock took scissors to magazines, instruction manuals and newspapers personal ads to come up with a Dada-esque libretto consisting of lines like “Rigid babies are an intricate device/The surface information should be rigid/button should be lit,” and “Seeking a woman to bird dream car/hold respect and body new.”
If that seems loopy, it needs to be taken into context with Roth''s lovely score, which delivers on a wild roller-coaster sampler of Americana. One piece (“Do the Dance of Television”) sounds like classic Leonard Bernstein put through a Cuisinart. Meanwhile, the opening piece, “In Fourteen Hundred Ninety You (Took Him to the River),” digs deep into our collective memory and simultaneously conjures show tunes, John Cage, the Talking Heads and British folk music.
And then there''s the aforementioned “Seeking a Woman to Bird Dream Car,” which is one of those rare gems-a pure pop song that is also a gorgeous piece of art music. (On this cut special kudos are due the lovely Roxane Carrasco, who manages to imbue a Motown soulfulness to lines like “One college educate white dark hair/seeks fireplaces resort like bear.”)
For an opera there''s little narrative to follow (in his liner notes Roth claims that he and Malashock were influenced by the 1953 Bernstein, Comden and Green musical Wonderful Town, but you could sure fool me). Still, THEIR THOUGHT AND BACK AGAIN is the kind of collection of songs that one could imagine Charles Ives composing, had he lived long enough to encounter rock-and-roll and beat poetry. And just as Ives’s “The Housatonic at Stockbridge” or “The Things Our Fathers Loved” were direct-though admittedly off kilter-byproducts of the period they were composed in, Roth''s songs are fleeting glimpses of America at the end of the 20th century: weird, intense, sentimental and, in spite of everything, rather beautiful. - (4/98)