Ted Hearne’s ‘Katrina Ballads’

14 01 2011

Composer Ted Hearne won the Gaudeamus Prize for this piece in 2009. Try to check it out when you’re on solid emotional ground.

(February, 2011)

In the days following Hurricane Katrina, the world endured a media monsoon of horrific images in an effort to understand what went wrong in New Orleans. Anderson Cooper asked viewers to steel themselves to accounts of death and destruction because it was our duty to know what was going on. Ted Hearne’s powerful treatise on the disaster demands something similar of its listeners.

By setting media-derived, post-Katrina soundbytes to a dizzying array of juxtaposed musical forms, the composer creates a sonic narrative that taps into the fear, confusion and deep pain caused by the storm and by the Bush administration’s stagnating response. The disc opens with the piercing sound of Abby Fischer’s mezzo-soprano shrilly announcing that “New Orleans is sinking,” her vibrato jarring your eardrums into high alert. Read More




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