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Songs from the Rainshadow’s Edge by Benton Roark
May 27, 2016 @ 10:00 pm - May 28, 2016 @ 11:55 pm| $10
Songs from the Rainshadow’s Edge – a song cycle in five parts by Benton Roark – is a musical journey into a “dark and interior world” (The Georgia Straight). Scored for the unusual compliment of soprano, narrator, electric guitar, flute, viola, double bass, percussion, and sampled sounds, this 33-minute, five-part cycle takes the listener deep into a lush soundscape populated by post-impressionistic textures, sweeping vocal lines, haunting lullabies, and fleeting clouds of microtonality. A seasoned composer and songwriter, Roark has in this work pioneered a language that merges his eclectic influences from avant-garde and folk traditions, crafting a work that shows a “deep unity of music and text” (Vital Weekly). From the opening movement that sends the narrator down the “rabbit hole” (Shift) through paralytic depression (Our Woes, Our Days), explorations of Buddhist (Heart’s Veil) and Jungian (On Mirror Pond) approaches to healing, onwards to the reemergence of the Self as a whole entity (The Other Side of Rainshadow’s Edge), this work places the audience at the center of a harrowing narrative of psychic transformation.
Songs from the Rainshadow’s Edge was commissioned by Redshift Music Society and premiered at the Cultch in Vancouver in 2012 by an ensemble featuring Canadian soprano Kathleen Allan. Roark’s program note at the premiere was as follows:
“Songs from the Rainshadow’s Edge is a hindsight study on a difficult period of my life. In many ways, it started out as a personal memoir – a relief map of my psychological landscape during this time, the predominant feature of which was a dichotomy between my inner and outer realities. For a long time it was as if my body and I were not the same, like “I” was watching it go through extreme emotions of bright euphoria and crushing despair from a strange, distant, and quiet place. When approached to write a work for a show that explored Campbell’s notion of the Hero’s Journey, I recalled the great interest I took during this period in the psychological research that attempted to account for, in simple terms, how hard it can be to become oneself, and in this case I use that term quite literally – “one” “Self”. Using this analytical framework as a sort of foundation, my work became, though still intensely personal, something more distanced (in the good way), more reflective. Songs from the Rainshadow’s Edge is about the journey into and out of a dream state of existence. It is about losing touch with one’s reality, about retreating from the world, and about “waking up” and not knowing (or caring!) if you’ve rediscovered your original Self or if you’ve become something different. It is about navigating one’s own myth through the cycle of archetypes, about realizing that the best way out of the struggle is simply to let it go.”
For the May 27th and May 28th performance of Arkora: Songs from the Rainshadow’s Edge, the live orchestral performance is accompanied with video by Jeanne Stern, commissioned for the piece. The film features lush otherworldly landscapes comprised of miniature environments, and kaleidoscopic video of Austin, Texas and northern Portugal.