USA Stories

Composer
Michael Dellaira
Composer Nationality
American
Composer Date of Birth
1949
Text
John Dos Passos (from the novel, The Big Money
Year Composed
1998
Pages
48
Minutes
13
Language
English
Voicing
7 part mixed chorus
Instruments
Vibraphone
Sacred or Secular
Secular
Mood
Rhythmic, with steady energy; Joyful
Description

The three sections of U.S.A. Stories : Adagio Dancer, Art and Isadora, and The Campers at Kitty Hawk are based on texts borrowed from The Big Money, the third novel in John Dos Passos’s trilogy U.S.A. Dos Passos’s prose style in these portraits of Rudolph Valentino, Isadora Duncan, and the Wright Brothers, like other portraits which appear throughout the trilogy, is characterized by long sentences and irregular rhythms, witty alliterations and colloquialisms. As a former rock musician, I found them appealingly close to the spirit of pop lyrics, but of course without being lyrics at all. (The edited passages are listed below. Words between brackets [] are sung at the same time as other passages.] Dos Passos’s portraits of these three famous personalities represent, for me at least, three strands in American culture: in Isadora Duncan the tradition of “high art” (her snubbing of it itself a part of that tradition); in Valentino popular culture writ large – capricious, ephemeral, ultimately cruel; in the Wright Brothers, the promise of American progress, a blend of science, utility, and risk.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMdRCgxIQJE

Audio Credit
Umberto Belfiore, video and recording
Group
C3LA
Performances
C3LA: Oct/Nov 2017 (American Breakfast)