Two of composer Hannah Lash’s works, “Stoned Prince” and “The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep,” are performed at SITE Santa Fe when Lash and the chamber ensemble loadbang come to town on April 13.
While “Stoned Prince,” which was written in 2013, has received a number of performances, “The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep” enjoys its world premiere.
“Stoned Prince” was the first collaboration I did with loadbang,” says Lash, who is also a harpist playing during the concert.
“We wanted to collaborate again, so I poked around to find something that would make a strong chamber piece.”
Scored for wind instruments and voice and augmented by sounds from beer bottles and a Zippo lighter, “The Stoned Prince” is a song cycle about a prince’s wild bachelor days. Lash turned to a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale for the subject of “The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep.”
“I read the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale when a friend of mine was cleaning out her library,” Lash explains. “It really jumped out at me. I thought it would be intriguing to work with.”
“The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep” is a tale about the romance between a china shepherdess and a china chimney sweep. Their love is threatened by a carved mahogany satyr who wants the shepherdess for his wife.
Lash wrote the music, which is scored for trumpet, trombone, bass clarinet, baritone voice and harp, as well as the libretto. She plays the role of the shepherdess, while baritone Jeffrey Gavett assumes the role of the chimney sweep. The various instruments in the ensemble play different characters.
Although there aren’t any non-traditional sounds in the piece, the performance involves a bit of movement.
“I get up and move around,” says Lash. “So does Jeffrey. Andy (Andy Kozat, trumpet) and Carlos (Carlos Cordeiro, bass clarinet) play the roles of goat legs.”
An award-winning composer who has won the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award and a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Lash earned a doctoral degree in composition from Harvard University in 2010. She has held teaching positions at Harvard and Alfred University. She is currently on the composition faculty at Yale University School of Music.
Loadbang, a New York City-based chamber ensemble that was founded in 2008, has premiered more than 275 works. In addition to Lash’s pieces, the group has performed pieces by Pulitzer Prize winning composers David Lang and Charles Wuorinen.