Pamela A. Madsen, RED VERTICAL (2001)

RED VERTICAL, commissioned by the yesaroun’ Duo and members of the Minneapolis-based ensemble, Zeitgeist, is based on the renaissance choral setting of Orlando di Lasso’s Prophetia Sybillarum is from The Sibyl Cycle, a cycle works which I am currently composing based on Sybilline Prophecies and on The Sibyl, by Par Lagerkivst. RED VERTICAL acts as the “impetus” for the drama, a procession that draws the Sybil into the depths of the Shrine where she is to succumb to the vapors (Pneuma-Phrenesis-Abyss, piano trio performed by the New York New Music Ensemble, June in Buffalo) and utters her prophecy. Other completed works in the Sibyl Cycle include Rope for solo piano, Vessel for two pianos, Demon for solo clarinet and electronics (Pat O’Keefe, clarinet, Zeitgeist).

The title “Red Vertical” was inspired by the sculpture/installation by Simon Ungers, designed for the Lightwell gallery at the State University, New York at Buffalo. “Red Vertical” is a slender but monolithic thirty-six foot column in the center of the Lightwell Gallery. The bright red, precision-finished column seems to be suspended between the Gallery’s floor and ceiling. and can be seen at least poetically, to defy gravity and entropy, and therefore allude to idea of timelessness and the quest for the sublime. Completing the composition of RED VERTICAL in the Fall of 2001, I was deeply moved by the events happening around NYC, where I grew up, as perceived from my distant residence now around LA. The trauma needed to be healed for me by expanses of time spent in the sound of simple tones extended for too long, which would allow for reflection and stasis in a time, which passed too fast.

Pamela A. Madsen, composer, theorist, pianist is currently an Assistant Professor of Composition and Theory at California State University at Fullerton. Her studies include: Ph.D. in Composition, UCSD with Brian Ferneyhough, doctoral studies in Music Theory at Yale University where she received a Mellon Foundation Award. Her theoretical work focuses on issues of form and the feminine voice and the influence of technology on compositional thought and is published in Musik Texte and Contemporary Music Forum. As a composer and scholar her work has been presented at numerous festivals and conferences throughout the United States and Europe including: IRCAM (Institute for Research and coordination of Acoustics and Music), Paris; ACANTHES Festival, France; CCRMA, Stanford University; Darmstadt Ferienkurse fur Neue Music, June in Buffalo; Frau Music Nova Festival, Cologne. Currently she is completing The Sexton Cycle, a large-scale multi-movement work based on the poetry of Anne Sexton for soloists, ensembles, voices and electronics commissioned by SONOR ensemble, UCSD and members of Zeitgesit was performed throughout Southern Claifornia this past Spring and will be recorded for CD release through funding by CSUF and the American Composer Forum, Subito Grant.


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