I've played accordion along with Sara and Patrik's dance work before, in scores written by my friend Bob Een, but this was the first time I'd written music for them.
Among the complications for me was that I was in Los Angeles for much of the development of the piece, which was going on in New York. The most challenging part of performing the work, though, was conducting the string players while watching the dancers for cues, playing piano (and sampled bass) and triggering drum loops, all at the same time. This is something people have done elegantly before but it kept me on the edge of my seat.
Written, choreographed and directed by Sara Pearson and Patrik Widrig
Dance performed by Katherine Fisher, Lindsay Gilmour, Sara Pearson and Patrik Widrig
Music by Carter Burwell
Music performed by Carter Burwell, Erik Friedlander, Joyce Hammann, Lois Martin
Recorded and mixed at The Body Studio
U.S. Premiere January, 2003, Joyce Theater, NYC
Here are examples from the score to The Return of Lot's Wife:
"It all begins with the move to Canaan. Abraham
declares that he and his wife should grab the tablecloths and the kids and get
out. Don’t look back,
which of course Lot’s wife, here played by Pearson, famously did. Questioning
God’s absolute decision to punish her for looking over her shoulder, Pearson
whined, "My husband is a pillar of the community; I am a pillar of salt."...
Widrig was her foil, the mate who survives God’s wrath, and the choreography tested the company’s physical capabilities, scurrying across the floor, stealing the down dog from the Yoga folks, and sweeping up the salt used in abundance throughout the piece.
The commissioned score, written by Carter Burwell for string instruments, seemed to contain traces of Hebrew melodies. It was performed live, and is one of the finest I have heard for modern dance. Between segments, the Persian poetry of Hafiz was recited by Kouross Esmaeli, each poem setting up the next "act" and giving the company time to set up the props and minimal scenery. The dialogue in which Pearson questioned the urgency of Lot’s decision to leave ("I have to cancel my hair appointment") was a priceless vignette.
The astounding finale had the four principals, each carrying a container of salt, waving it overhead to create flowing arcs of white that fell to the ground like a fresh snowfall. As the lights dimmed on the figures, still in motion, it was clear that Pearson and Widrig had created a sustaining and memorable image for this important work." - Phyllis Goldman, Back Stage, February 14, 2003.