BitterSweet explores the passage from inner darkness, through the beginning of hope, towards light. At the heart of the work are three poems from the collection Pribehy/parafraze (Stories/paraphrases) by my late grandfather, the Czech poet and translator Jan Vladislav. The sonic material comes from various sources, including the sound of my grandfather’s voice reciting the three poems, the motet Tristis est anima mea by Orlando Lasso, James MacMillan’s Sun Dogs, and four folk songs. Other poetic materials include excerpts from Arthur Rimbaud and Antonin Artaud that my grandfather’s poems make reference to, as well as a text written for the piece by Robert Glick.
In early 2013, Spiritus Chamber Choir, conducted by Tim Shantz with two soloists, Nina Hornjatkevyc and Katy Warke, gave the first performance.
Here is a demo bringing together various moments from this 10-movement piece from the recording of the premiere:
BitterSweet with with translations of text and score excerpts:
The singers chant and sing translations of poems in this book. It is the last collection my grandfather Ladislav Bambasek/Jan Vladislav published. It is about endings and many were about my grandmother Marie, who suffered from Alzheimers at the end of her life.
Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891) from a letter to his mother and brother in 1885
In the end, what’s most likely, is that we mostly go where we don’t want to, and we mostly end up doing what we would rather not be doing, and we live and die completely differently that we would ever have wanted, without hope of any kind of compensation.
Antonin Artaud (1896-1948) from Love Without a Trace
When I lift my eyes towards you you'd think the world is trembling and the fires of love resemble your beloved's.
St. Matthew’s Gospel, Chapter 26/Orlando Lasso from Tristis est anima mea
Soon you will see a crowd of men surround me. You shall flee, and I will go to be sacrificed for you.
Robert Glick/Terri Hron from Texts for BitterSweet