Matthew Dewey’s newly commissioned song cycle “Il Tempo Passa” will be premiered as part of the Museum of Old and New Art Festival of Music and Art (MONA FOMA) in January of 2011. The work, which was commissioned by the young Tasmanian baritone Michael Lampard, will be premiered by Michael (Baritone), Karen Smithies (Piano) and Jo St. Leon (Viola) at the Baha’i Centre of Learning in Hobart, Tasmania.
Sadly, the poetry of Michelangelo is the most neglected and under appreciated aspect of this great artist’s output. Unlike his famous masterworks including and especially the Statue of David and the mural on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo’s poems focus inwardly and have a potent sense of self-doubt, frailty and even frustration and bitterness. Because of this focus on self-expression rather than on the universal themes he is so famous for, the poems give a fascinating insight into his life and outlook.
He was, it is widely regarded, a devout man who struggled to justify his homosexuality in the face of the ultra-conservative and homophobic views of his beloved Roman-Catholic church. His poems range from expressing a sense of doubt in his immortal-soul, to anger at his peers and contemporaries, to beseeching God for divine assurance.
In composing this work for Michael, I responded to a comment from a colleague that very little of the settings of Michelangelo’s poems seemed to use the musical forms and structures of his time, but rather were set by composers with strong idiosyncratic musical “fingerprints” – composers like Maxwell-Davies and Shostakovich.
In using this notion as a starting point, I decided on a structure of four movements that I could use to write “in” and “out” of a historically referential musical language. I selected the four poems from across his poetical output in-order to build a narrative shape for the work.
(more information about this work and the premiere performance will become available over the coming months)…