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A Day of Wrath


DURATION
5’20”

INSTRUMENTATION
SATB (div.), cl, bn, tpt, perc, vln, db

POET
Kurt Vonnegut

YEAR COMPOSED

2018

COMMISSIONER
Voces Novae, Bloomington, Indiana
Supported by: Indiana University Arts & Humanities Council, Charles and Linda Pickle in honor of the Schelbitzki family, and Paul and Susan Sullivan. In memory of: Marian and John Gaskill, John Lawson, Sandy Wood Taylor, and Evans Woollen III


THIS IS A MOVEMENT FROM:
Vonnegut: Requiem
Produced by
Voce Novae, the project contains nine movements by eight composers. Click link for more info.

PERUSAL SCORE
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PROGRAM NOTES
As part of Voces Novae’s Vonnegut: Requiem project (in which eight composers were commissioned to set Vonnegut’s Requiem text), I was excited to be assigned a fierce section filled with high drama:

A day of wrath: that day
we shall dissolve the world into glowing ashes,
As attested by our weapons for wars
In the names of gods unknowable.
Let not the ashes tremble,
Though some Judge should come
To examine all in some strict justice!
Let no trumpet's wondrous call sounding abroad
In tombs throughout the world
Drive ashes toward any throne.

When sitting down to set the text to music, I read
Slaughterhouse Five to get in a Vonnegut frame of mind. The book’s depiction of the madness of war, the cruelty of humanity, and the quirky, time-traveling coping mechanisms of Billy Pilgrim (the protagonist) gave me a sense of how and where to insert some irreverence into this otherwise dark portion of the Requiem. The irreverence manifests in two forms: an off-kilter waltz employed in the middle of the piece, and casual commentary that I added to a few choice moments in the text, the most striking of which is “and so it goes,” a refrain Vonnegut used repeatedly in Slaughterhouse Five to reflect the absurdity of Billy Pilgrim’s life.

-S.G.