for female voice and piano.  Duration: approx. 3’30”

Program Notes:

How impossible it is
to be alone
the one thing humanity
has never really
moved towards

—Lorine Niedecker

Written for the senior recital of Lauren Anderson as part of a set of poems by Wisconsin women writers.  When Lauren first presented me with this poem by Lorine Niedecker, I was immediately moved at how sixteen words could be so incredibly relevant to the millennial generation.  Through social media and technology, we are never truly “alone” thanks to the thousands of connections we have made.  However, this “six degrees of separation” has caused us to truly separate ourselves from each other, trading instant messaging for face-to-face conversation. “Voluntary Solitude” was inspired by the uncertainty in the words “has never really” and how the author chose to offset that text in the poem alignment.  The extreme use of the piano represents the numerous connections and “friends”, “followers”, and connections we have at our fingertips. The reaching inside the piano to muffle the notes C and A are a direct reflection on how we make the conscious decision to detach ourselves from the real world and communicate via technology at our own discretion.  People voluntarily choose to ignore messages, fail to return phone calls, and communicate unless it benefits them, resulting in true loneliness, even if a friend list states otherwise.

“The great myth of our times is that technology is communication”—Libby Larsen

Anna Parks, mezzo-soprano; Stephen Uhl, piano. October 13, 2014.

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