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The Mud Oratorio - music for dance (excerpt)

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Published on Apr 17, 2016

Excerpt from The Mud Oratorio, a dance-theater piece with music and libretto by Alice Shields for live dancers and fixed audio media.

This one hour long piece was commissioned and premiered by Dance Alloy of Pittsburgh and Frostburg State University, Maryland, with support from Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour. Choreographer: Mark Taylor; lighting designer: Barbara Thompson. The libretto by Alice Shields was inspired by the book Stirring the Mud by Barbara Hurd, and celebrates the ancient plants, animals, insects and birds of two Maryland swamps maintained by the Nature Conservancy, left behind by the receding glaciers of the Ice Age. In the music, Shields uses her own electronically-modified voice, along with a local biologist's imitations of swamp-birds, frogs and toads. Other sound sources include Tibetan ritual conch shells, an Indian shenai and an Indian flute.
As dream-like as the libretto, the music is in three large sections, opening with the swamp in Spring, continuing into an imaginary Summer, and ending with Fall-Winter. In this YouTube excerpt, you hear the first 4 minutes of the piece.
The Mud Oratorio was created in 2002-2003 on a MacIntosh computer with ProTools and GRM plug-ins.
Photos courtesy of Dance Alloy and Sarah Higgins, taken during the April 2003 premiere at Frostburg State University, Maryland. Photos © 2003 by Sarah Higgins.
The Mud Oratorio is published by the American Composers Alliance: http://composers.com/alice-shields

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