Cruel Spirals is a thirty-minute setting of nine poems by renowned author Jerome Rothenberg. Inspired by Rothenberg’s intensely rhythmic readings of his own writing, Manoury scored his work for solo soprano and nine players. In his New York Times review of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) performance, which took place at the South Street Seaport’s Spiegeltent, Bernard Holland wrote, “Jerome Rothenberg’s poetry offered jeremiads against the successes of the rich and powerful over the weak and the poor, and then a lament for the Holocaust. … Funereal drumbeats taken up by other instruments were a recurring background for agitated rhythmic fragments, uncomfortable silences, frantic melees of close-quarters counterpoint and Mahlerian sighs.”
A second performance of Cruel Spirals is planned for September 23, 2007 at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Photography, as a part of the ICE’s 5th Annual Chicago ICEFest, with Mr. Manoury in attendance. The work was commissioned by ICE, with assistance from The French-American Fund for Contemporary Music, a program of FACE, with major support from SACEM and Universal Music Publishing Group.
Also featured on the all-Manoury program was En Echo for soprano and live electronics, one of Manoury’s most famous works and a landmark composition in the history electronic music. “Accompanied in passages by the electronics…the soprano's voice [in En Echo] is tinged and galvanized by the computer program. These exposed moments provide an air of solitude that's alive with mysterious sensation, then accented in the lengthy central section by muted mechanical interjections that resonate like shutter lenses or shears,” noted Alan Lockwood in the The New York Sun.
A post-concert reception at the New York Theater Workshop featured a riveting ICE performance of Mr. Manoury’s Last for bass clarinet and marimba, and a lively question-and-answer session with Mr. Manoury and Mr. Rothenberg about their collaborative process.
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