By J.P. Merz
On April 26, 2016 at the James J. Hill Reference Library in St. Paul, Minnesota, Liquid Music and the Givens Foundation for African American Literature presented Saul Williams and Mivos Quartet: No One Ever Does, which included the Minnesota premiere of NGH WHT, a collaboration between Williams and composer Thomas Kessler, world premieres by composers Ted Hearne and Jace Clayton, and Moonblood by Mario Dias de Leon.
Ted Hearne's The Answer to the Question that Wings Ask uses Saul William's poem of the same name. In the poem, Saul asks asks a never ending series of questions that intensify and seamlessly weave between religion, reality, sex, morality and many other topics. The music echos this relentless questioning through a circular but somewhat confounding chord progression. But for Ted, the power of the poem is not found in the themes of the specific questions as much as in the way Saul portrays the unrelenting interrogation of self. Check out our interview with Ted to learn more.
The title and libretto for Jace Clayton's .d.u.s.t..s.t.a.r.c.h..m.e.a.t.s. comes from N.H. Pritchard, an experimental black poet who lived on NYC's Lower East Side from the late 60s to early 70s. Pritchard was a part of the Umbra magazine group and distinctively employed language as material, using unusual typography to strip away semantic meaning and syntax. Clayton's version operates in a similar way, using the first piece of music that each member of Mivos Quartet ever memorized as musical building blocks to interweave and deconstruct. Our interview with Jace dives further into these topics and more.