DECIBEL new music ensemble, with special guests, perform a concert of the works of Jenny O Johnson (USA) in conjunction with Queensland flautist Janet McKay.
Beautiful fragments // Traumatic memories: Three musical portraits of adolescent crisis
WAAPA Main Auditorium
Thursday,November 8th, 3.45-4.40pm (its free!)
full conference program can be viewed here
‘Beautiful Fragments//Traumatic Memories’ is a concert of three contemporary musical works by American composer Jenny Olivia Johnson, whose work explores relationships among sound, memory, and early childhood trauma. Each of these three pieces offers an emotional portrait of nameless character negotiating haunting memories of an early tragedy.
“Dollar Beers (Redondo Beach ’96),” for soprano and small ensemble, depicts a young teen remembering the tragic drowning of her best friend after a night of drinking on a beach;
“beautiful//fragment,” for flute, electronics, and video, juxtaposes a multitude of collective memories of the Challenger space shuttle disaster against one woman’s private memories of abuse; and
“Cutter,” also for soprano and ensemble, explores a young woman’s obsessive tendencies toward self-harm, and the strange combination of rage, ecstasy, and agency she acquires from cutting her own skin. Johnson’s immersive, driving, and often hypnotic musical depictions of these difficult subjects suggest that the nightmarish traumas that so many young people endure are also sometimes tinged with a strange beauty and complexity, and can often lead early trauma survivors to experience emotions and perceptions with such depth and intensity that they are able to become remarkably empathic, resilient, and inspiring human beings later on in life.
Recordings of these three pieces are available online, at the following links:
(live recording with BMOP, December 2010):
(live iPhone recording of a rehearsal with AVANT NEW MEDIA,February 2012):