for soprano voice, Bb clarinet, piano, and electronic sounds (12 min.)
“The music of a decaying state is sentimental and sad, and its government is imperiled”
The music of How We Are Fooled expresses Hesse’s observation–it is ceaselessly sentimental and sad. At the same time, the piece juxtaposes a symbolic representation of diversion with that sentimentality and sadness to represent the strangely carefree state of decay we find ourselves experiencing today in the United States. Balloons appear and disappear throughout the work, and the control over these balloons raises questions about how much control we as citizens have over the myriad diversions that preoccupy our public culture and private lives. Initially the audience members are free to experiment with the balloons in the context of the work, but they must eventually confront the illusions of control this “freedom” may have created. Hesse might suggest that the sentimental and sad quality of the music is inescapable given the current political situation, but How We Are Fooled asks: If we are made aware of the way that diverting influences instill a narcotizing illusion of control over our lives, could easy feelings of nostalgia give way to a surge of more visceral emotions and truths?
Below is a video of a performance at the Boston Conservatory in October 2011