Black Magic/White Magic

Song Cycle for Soprano and Seven Players

Gerald Levinson

Rental
Performing Ensemble: Voice and Instrument
Text: Poems by Nanine Valen
Publisher: Merion Music, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

"Black Magic/White Magic" was begun in Bali in 1980 and completed after my return to America in 1981. The poems, many of which had been written earlier as children?s poems, are not linked by any explicit narrative sequence; however, they all partake of a certain world of imagery involving oppositions of light (day, sun, the natural world: nos. 3-5) and dark (night, moon, dreams, water: nos. 7-10), and the hazy, suspended moments in which one world meets the other (nos. 6 and 11). In most of the poems the presence of the ?opposite? world is felt, as a shadow or halo to the primary images, so that the one world is present or implicit in the other.

The arrangement of the poems forms a general progression from light (though beginning suspended in space where there is neither light nor day: no. 2), through sunset and twilight, into the night world of dream and myth, with the approach of dawn completing the cycle.

"Black Magic/White Magic" is conceived as a series of short, contrasting musical images, some of them tiny miniatures, each with its own instrumentation. The songs are linked by recurring motifs and by references to the two polar tonalities of C and A(. The work is framed by a prelude and ironic ?envoi? which contain barely perceptible anticipations and echoes of other songs.

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Additional Information

Composition Date 1982
Duration 21:00
Orchestration Soprano; Fl./Picc./A.Fl. Ob./E.H. Cl. B.Cl. Vln. Vcl. Pno.
Premiere March, 1982. Mary Westbrook-Geha and the New England Conservatory Contemporary Ensemble, conducted by John Heiss.

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