(book and lyrics by Heleen Verburg, translated by Manon van de Water) Six songs & incidental music for the English-language version of a Dutch children’s play (2007) for singing actors and pre-recorded sound (commissioned by Manon van de Water & the UW-Madison Theatre for Young Audiences)
excerpts of songs (demonstration versions) and incidental music:
composer’s note: When Manon van de Water introduced me to her translation of HIBERNATION, I was completely delighted, and jumped at the chance to write some songs and incidental music for the English-language premiere. In the US, our art intended for children is often very “sweet,” careful not to ever get too dark or strange. This Dutch children’s play, part of a long tradition of experimentation in theatre for youth, is not that at all. It is dark, strange, fun, surreal… basically, it feels like the way kids play when left to their own devices, without grownups getting in the way. So while there were certainly practical concerns in writing these songs (they had to be singable by amateurs, as well as being quite brief) what I wanted most of all was to let some of that strange darkness into the music. So, for instance, “Mother Who Sings” is something like a kids’ version of The Queen of the Night’s aria from Mozart’s “Magic Flute,” but full of swirling echoes and odd background noises creeping into the foreground. “Ooh Nighty” is basically just a sweet lullaby, but peppered with backwards sounds that make the song seem to breathe in disorienting ways. In this way, my music for HIBERNATION lives a little in two different worlds: the songs are catchy & fun tunes for kids, while at the same time opening the door to surreal, unexpected, dark sounds that creep into the mood of the show.