don't mess with texas

click here for score sample in pdf (pages 1, 19-24)

year: 2003     

instrumentation: fl, alto sax; tpt; hp, gtr/banjo; 2perc; soprano; 1111 strings     

duration: 14'

commissioned by: gateSeven

text: 16 travel haiku by Tim Cummings

premiered: gateSeven / Ewan Clark cond. / Madeleine Pierard soprano, Wellington 07.04.2003

programme note: In the middle of 2002, Tim Cummings, an American who had been living in New Zealand for some years, returned home and, with his friend Ringo, embarked on a road-trip from Florida to Los Angeles. Along the way he e-mailed his friends a series of haiku poems (sixteen in total) that related his coast-to-coast experiences of a land that, although his own, he had come to feel like a stranger in.

From the lethargy and obesity of Florida’s residents, to the disturbing cruelty of an animal park tour guide in Louisiana, to the beautiful but oppressive landscape of the desert, the depraved glitz of Las Vegas and the polluted haze hanging above Los Angeles, Tim’s haiku, overcoming their brevity, said much about the country from which Western popular culture draws so much. I began the task of setting Tim’s words to music as momentum was gathering for the American-lead war on Iraq, with all of the anger and frustration of someone opposed to this crime filtering into the work.

Don’t Mess With Texas is dedicated to Tim Cummings, the sort of open-eyed American the world needs more of. The work was premiered by gateseven in May 2003, conductor Ewan Clark, soprano soloist Madeleine Pierard.