Powering Up / Powering Down 1/30/04-2/1/04
Registration Schedule Participants Venues Travel Press Mailling List Contact Us Thanks/Links Home Teknika Radica

Alice Shields

“Mioritza - Requiem for Rachel Corrie”
for trombone and tape (2003)

I created Mioritza in memory of Rachel Corrie,the 23-year-old American peace activist who on16 March 2003 was murdered by an Israeli forces bulldozer while attempting to defend a Palestinian doctor's home from demolition. Many innocent Israelis and innocent Palestinians have been killed during the Israeli occupation; this young American had come there to help in peace-making and defending the innocent. And so when Monique Buzzarté asked me to write a piece, I decided to dedicate the work to Rachel Corrie's memory. I took the title “Mioritza” from a traditional Romanian poem of that name, which translates into English as “the clarivoyant lamb.” The piece begins in a slow sarabande rhythm in a beat of three, with the emphasis on the second beat. Towards the middle of the piece the performer sings through the trombone an Indian raga melody with a phrase in Sanskrit: “Vittala, vittala, vittala, vittala: Deva vittala, Deva vittala...” which means roughly “glory to God.” I created the tape part using C-Sound and ProTools. The music and the poem, printed below, can be experienced separately or together; they are two different expressions of my reaction to Rachel's martyrdom in the cause of peace.
-- A.S.


Yeast, foam, froth, spume,
the subject of exaltation,

I am a sheet of floating ice, the forehead of the morning.

I am a place for the washing of clothes,
a breathing water for the washing of feet,

in sunset a sistrum of light on the waves,
the rim thereon finished off in gold between the breasts,
admired even where the gods gather together
to thrust back the fastening of a gate
in air.

I am a cloud or body of mist,
epithet of sleep, sweet, grateful, refreshing,

the cloud-gatherer
from which one is not easily

Fragrant to lay ahold of,
kindly welcome,

from beyond where the water wells up
from the dark,

with your swanshift of feathers
over the surface of the earth the heavens revolve,

over the axis of symmetry
about which the body is arranged,

engirdled by the cerulean fields on high,

dyeing the world azure in a bath of bliss,
the marvelling echo streaming
from the sky
-- Alice Shields


One of the woman pioneers of electronic music, since 1964 Alice Shields has created works including some of the first electronic operas, as well as computer pieces for dance and vocal and instrumental music. She received a doctorate in music composition from Columbia University, served as Associate Director of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center and as Director of Development of the Columbia University Computer Music Center, and has held faculty positions at New York University and Rutgers University. Shields' recent works include Azure for flute, violin, viola, cello and tape, premiered by the Azure Ensemble in April, 2003, Merkin Hall, NYC; and large computer works for dance, including The Mud Oratorio, commissioned by Dance Alloy of Pittsburgh and premiered at Frostburg State University, MD in April, 2003; and Dust, commissioned by Dance Alloy and the Arangham Dance Theatre of Madras, India, which premiered in Pittsburgh in 2001 and toured India in 2002, performing in New Delhi, Hyderabad, and Chennai (Madras). As a singer Shields has performed roles with opera companies in the U.S. and abroad, including the New York City Opera, the Opera Society of Washington, D.C. and the Clarion Opera Society in Italy, and has performed as vocalist for Indian classical dance (Bharata Natyam). Her music is recorded on Koch International Classics, New World, CRI, and Albany Records (to be released in 2004), and is published by Jilmar Music.

“Powering Up/Powering Down” is sponsored in part by the University of California Institute for Research in the Arts (UCIRA), the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA), and the UC San Diego Department of Music in connection with the departments of Visual Arts, Music, and Literature at UCSD along with the UC Riverside and Los Angeles campuses.