Rhapsody of The Soul

Released on Miramuse

By on 8-13-2008 in Rhapsody of the Soul

Austin Contemporary Ballet

 

by Gary Powell

In 1995, I gave an interview on Austin’s NPR radio station, KLRU. During the interview, the moderator, John Rogers, played a recording of a composition I had written for the vocal group I had directed ten years earlier at the University of Texas, Ensemble 109. I recorded “Kryie Eleison, Christe Eleison” in 1986 with five studio singers, two of whom had been former students of mine at UT.

When I came home from the live interview, I had received messages on my home phone from two of Austin’s artistic directors, Lambros Lambrou of Ballet Austin and Greg Easley of Austin Contemporary Ballet, who were both listening to the interview and both heard “Kyrie Eleison” at the same time. Both, also, made calls to me within minutes of each other without each other’s knowledge.

Although I would have welcomed the chance to have worked with Lambros Lambrou, Greg Easley had a more immediate need in mind. He explained how AIDS had taken it’s toll on the dance community at large and how he felt that my “Kyrie” had spoken to his own sense of loss. Then Greg asked, “Would you be interested in expanding your “Kryrie” to look more deeply into loss itself, not directly as an AIDS piece, but because all of us live with loss everyday?” Thus, the bigger idea for the ballet was born, entitled “Rhapsody of the Soul,” and performed at Austin’s Paramount Theatre on February 9th, 1996.


rhapsody of the soul gary powell composer

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Rhapsody of the Soul

(Separation, Loss and the Hope for Healing and Resolution)

An original work for the Austin Contemporary Ballet
Choreographed by Greg Easley, Artistic Director
Composed and Produced by Gary Powell
Latin Translations by Barry Brandenburg

1. Suavis Unitas Ne Discedas (Sweet oneness depart Not.)
2. Veniri Necesse Mihi Pati (It must come. I must suffer.)
3. Prudens Viae Nihil Moveor (I know my path. I do not move.)
4. In Umbris Progreditur Et Novit Amicos (It moves in shadows and knows my friends.)
5. Timens Decedende. Timens Manendi (Scared to leave. Scared to stay.)
6. In Morte Perditus (Lost in death.)
7. Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison (Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.)


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Suavis Unitas Ne Discedas

(Sweet Oneness, Depart Not)

from Rhapsody of the Soul

By on 8-13-2008 in Rhapsody of the Soul

by Gary Powell

Rhapsody of the SoulThe lyric “Suavis Unitas Ne Discedas” translates from Latin to English as “Sweet oneness, depart not.” This lyric sets the tone for the ballet, “Rhapsody of the Soul.” The stage is set. This opening scene is bathed in the fog of serenity, sweetness and peacefulness. The music begins by supporting this place of idyllic contentment and then slowly invites soul to become substance. Voices from the other side are wrapped within a distant web of wonderment. Although beginning as an invitation, the distant voices become more present – more populated, moving quickly past seduction toward the adjuratory commitment to life for our first gasp for air.
Though the rupture of primary unity is a necessary loss, it remains “an incurable wound which afflicts the destiny of the whole human race.” – Judith Viorst, “Necessary Losses”

The journey of “Rhapsody of the Soul” is musically punctuated by what was and what will be – our birth, our lives, and our death. These life parts, from our glorious oneness to our eventual separation, are each represented as musical themes throughout the ballet and are all first quoted in this opening piece, “Suavis Unitas Ne Discedas.”

Life is not static. We are all under constant change. Sometimes change is incipiently slow and dangerous in that we don’t feel it happening. Sometimes change is like stepping off a cliff. Birth is the latter. Moving from the womb, where safety, contentment, nourishment and peace transition to the shockingly violent birth canal must rank highly as one of the most ungracious transitions a human will ever experience. This is the moment when the vase of everlasting unity is broken and the individual is slapped into human experience. This is a grand, a traumatizing, and an unsettling entrance to the life that we all share!


rhapsody of the soul gary powell composer

Now Available Online for Worldwide Download from These Stores

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Rhapsody of the Soul

(Separation, Loss and the Hope for Healing and Resolution)

An original work for the Austin Contemporary Ballet
Choreographed by Greg Easley, Artistic Director
Composed and Produced by Gary Powell
Latin Translations by Barry Brandenburg

1. Suavis Unitas Ne Discedas (Sweet oneness depart Not.)
2. Veniri Necesse Mihi Pati (It must come. I must suffer.)
3. Prudens Viae Nihil Moveor (I know my path. I do not move.)
4. In Umbris Progreditur Et Novit Amicos (It moves in shadows and knows my friends.)
5. Timens Decedende. Timens Manendi (Scared to leave. Scared to stay.)
6. In Morte Perditus (Lost in death.)
7. Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison (Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.)

Chris Martin – Alto
Amy Atchley – Soprano
Gary Powell – Tenor
Billy Henry, Joe York, Scotty Roberts, Gary Powell, Male Chorus
Will Weaver, Katie Pyle, Devin MacDonald – Children’s Chorus
Katy Pyle – Newborn Child
Illustrations: Antonio Muñoz

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Veniri Necesse Mihi Pati

(It must come. I must suffer.)

from Rhapsody of the Soul

By on 8-13-2008 in Rhapsody of the Soul

by Gary Powell

Gary Powell colorado 1992With less than $400 in liquid assets, which were already spoken for, I mounted my Honda Goldwing motorcycle in Austin and headed toward Colorado. There was no plan or even a timetable, but I was armed with a wallet full of credit cards. Leaving Austin felt frighteningly necessary. I remember weeping through the first 100 miles westward wondering what I was doing and where I was going. This pilgrimage, and that’s stretching how I felt, was in the middle of two years of the deepest grief only found within the extremes of personal exploration and revelation. Purpose is hard to divine when renting a room in this place. I was not depressed – just feeling that the time for rebirth had come in order to forge a conscious and mindful future.
Grief is not a process of forgetting, it is a process of learning to cope while we remember. – Doug Manning, “The Gift of Significance”

Near Hereford, Texas, I stopped at a west Texas Dairy Queen. It was August, 16th, 1992 and a break from the oppressive west Texas heat was needed. I sat down to enjoy a root beer float and found myself engaged in conversation with a tall, lean man named Doug Manning who was on his way home to Hereford with his wife. In Texas, especially rural Texas, we’ll strike up a conversation with anyone about anything. Even a flat tire can produce an afternoon of story-swapping. A lifted finger to point outside to my maroon Goldwing, a couple of sentences about the heat, and I was quickly engaged with Doug Manning at a place much more pertinent than the weather. These were all natural and cultural reflexes of my Texas upbringing. We were both at home.

Doug says, “I was a preacher for the first 30 years of my life and I realized that I was not helping people who needed to grieve. Therefore, I began listening and studying and writing books about grieving.” Doug started In-Sight Books a year later in 1993. I talked with him about my own grieving in that air-conditioned DQ, and began a friendship that continues today. Within three hours of leaving Austin, in the blistering west Texas heat, I had re-centered myself in the most unlikely of places for introspection and healing.
Growing up means letting go of the dearest megalomaniacal dreams of our childhood. Growing up means knowing they can’t be fulfilled. Growing up means gaining the wisdom and skills to get what we want within the limitations imposed by reality – a reality which consists of diminished powers, restricted freedoms and, with the people we love, imperfect connections. – Judith Viorst, “Necessary Losses”

This is the story of being lost in one’s own grieving and how the grace of healing can find a toe-hold. Drinking an ice-cold root beer float and meeting Doug Manning transformed my wanderlust into a map of infinite points and directions. Such as it is, when grace invades our personal space of despair. Just a few years later, I found myself writing lyrics and having them translated into Latin for “Rhapsody of the Soul.” Go figure!

Indeed, we must all suffer, and “Veniri Necessi Mihi Pati” sits in this place of absolute despair. However, Doug Manning teaches us that we can all transform our suffering and losses into meaning and significance. This is Doug’s gift to us and the gift to myself in writing “Rhapsody of the Soul.”


rhapsody of the soul gary powell composer

Now Available Online for Worldwide Download from These Stores

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Rhapsody of the Soul

(Separation, Loss and the Hope for Healing and Resolution)

An original work for the Austin Contemporary Ballet
Choreographed by Greg Easley, Artistic Director
Composed and Produced by Gary Powell
Latin Translations by Barry Brandenburg

1. Suavis Unitas Ne Discedas (Sweet oneness depart Not.)
2. Veniri Necesse Mihi Pati (It must come. I must suffer.)
3. Prudens Viae Nihil Moveor (I know my path. I do not move.)
4. In Umbris Progreditur Et Novit Amicos (It moves in shadows and knows my friends.)
5. Timens Decedende. Timens Manendi (Scared to leave. Scared to stay.)
6. In Morte Perditus (Lost in death.)
7. Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison (Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.)

Amy Atchley – Soprano
Chris Martin – Alto
Gary Powell – Tenor
Jeff Hellmer – Piano

All Content of Gary Powell’s Site is Licensed Under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License

.

Prudens Viae Nihil Moveor

(I know my path. I do not move.)

from Rhapsody of the Soul

By on 8-13-2008 in Rhapsody of the Soul

by Gary Powell

rhapsody of the soul "I know my path" graphicIn 1981, I was unknowingly preparing myself to write and compose “Rhapsody of the Soul.” Al K. Mustin, the founder and leader of Austin’s Church of Today, spoke on how most of us repeat our mistakes over and over again until we finally wake up, stop the cycle, and transform. I was the churches’ Director of Music. On that day, we pondered over how to musically support this idea of patterned behavior with music within the church service. Then, I suddenly remembered the chorus from the Olivia Newton John song, “Please, Mister, Please.”

Please, Mister, please, don’t play B-17
It was our song, it was his song, but it’s over
Please, Mister, please, if you know what I mean
I don’t ever wanna hear that song again

I’m guessing that in 1981, “Please, Mister, Please,” was not being sung in many churches. Luckily for me, Al Mustin and I shared an appreciation for creative exploration. I sang the song as Al implored, “We keep putting yet another dime in the jukebox, continuing to press B-17, thinking we’ll hear a different song.” Psychologists teach us that sometimes we create patterns of behavior in order to manage a singular traumatic event or chronic trauma from earlier in life. But, at some point, when the difficulties are no longer present, our entrenched behavior begins to work against us. Being stuck in our patterns is another way of losing ourselves: losing our highest and best use. Some fifteen years later, I found myself writing about this same idea – pressing B-17 – but this time in Latin and, more musically deeply interpreted.

There is in human nature a compulsion to repeat. Indeed, it is called the repetition compulsion. It compels us to do again and again what we have done before, to attempt to restore an earlier state of being…..but, until we can mourn and let go of that past, we are doomed to repeat it. – Judith Viorst, Necessary Losses


rhapsody of the soul gary powell composer

Now Available Online for Worldwide Download from These Stores

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Rhapsody of the Soul

(Separation, Loss and the Hope for Healing and Resolution)

An original work for the Austin Contemporary Ballet
Choreographed by Greg Easley, Artistic Director
Composed and Produced by Gary Powell
Latin Translations by Barry Brandenburg

1. Suavis Unitas Ne Discedas (Sweet oneness depart Not.)
2. Veniri Necesse Mihi Pati (It must come. I must suffer.)
3. Prudens Viae Nihil Moveor (I know my path. I do not move.)
4. In Umbris Progreditur Et Novit Amicos (It moves in shadows and knows my friends.)
5. Timens Decedende. Timens Manendi (Scared to leave. Scared to stay.)
6. In Morte Perditus (Lost in death.)
7. Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison (Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.)

Amy Atchley – Soprano
Chris Martin – Alto
Billy Henry, Tenor
Gary Powell – Tenor
Illustrations: Antonio Muñoz

All Content of Gary Powell’s Site is Licensed Under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License

.

In Umbris Progreditur Et Novit Amicos

(It Moves in Shadows and Knows My Friends)

from Rhapsody of the Soul

By on 8-13-2008 in Rhapsody of the Soul

Rhapsody of the Soul Artby Gary Powell

Hopefully not before mid-life, we experience first hand the ever-progressing volatile nature of life. What we thought were permanent gifts in our lives; our pets, our childhood friends, our parents, our mates, our closest family members, our business relationships, and our life-long friends have begun to drift away or die. At this point in life we understand that permanence is a lie, and in that awful truth is the inherent presumption and acceptance that we, ourselves, will also die.

Some things we learn too late. Some things we learn too early. Some things we never learn and others we never have to. – Gary Powell, Maybe I’m It – Maybe I’m Not

This inevitable outcome, our ultimate heritage, is the most bitter pill. Making it worse is the knowledge that this inevitableness moves uninvited and indiscriminately within our closest circles. It moves in shadows and know my friends, the music and lyric mourn, while our soulmate pleads, sweet oneness, depart not. Somehow though, we believed this darkness would never come this close to us. Inexplicably, our well-tooled denial is no longer effective. Some separations will be of choice and will be painful. Others will not be of choice and will also be painful.

The mid-life transition activates a man’s concerns with death and destruction. He experiences more fully his own mortality and the actual or impending death of others. He becomes more aware of the many ways in which other persons, even his loved ones, have acted destructively toward him (with malice, or, often, with good intentions). What is perhaps worse, he realizes that he has done irrevocably hurtful things to his parents, lovers, wife, children, friends, rivals (again, with what may have been the worse of the best of intentions). – Daniel Levinson, The Season’s of a Man’s Life

At this point in “Rhapsody of the Soul,” we have crested the final hill of adulthood, shedding our last vestiges of narcissism, and seen a promised land not of our choosing, but nonetheless, inevitable.


rhapsody of the soul gary powell composer

Now Available Online for Worldwide Download from These Stores

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Rhapsody of the Soul

(Separation, Loss and the Hope for Healing and Resolution)

An original work for the Austin Contemporary Ballet
Choreographed by Greg Easley, Artistic Director
Composed and Produced by Gary Powell
Latin Translations by Barry Brandenburg

1. Suavis Unitas Ne Discedas (Sweet oneness depart Not.)
2. Veniri Necesse Mihi Pati (It must come. I must suffer.)
3. Prudens Viae Nihil Moveor (I know my path. I do not move.)
4. In Umbris Progreditur Et Novit Amicos (It moves in shadows and knows my friends.)
5. Timens Decedende. Timens Manendi (Scared to leave. Scared to stay.)
6. In Morte Perditus (Lost in death.)
7. Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison (Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.)

Gary Powell – Tenor
Chris Martin – Alto
Illustrations: Antonio Muñoz

All Content of Gary Powell’s Site is Licensed Under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License

.

Timens Decedende. Timens Manendi.

(Scared to Leave. Scared to Stay.)

from Rhapsody of the Soul

By on 8-13-2008 in Rhapsody of the Soul

Rhapsody of the Soul Artby Gary Powell

All is fine. Then, it’s not. A little brother or sister is born and that mucks up the good thing you had going as the only child. You were on your way to becoming the prom queen in high school and then the exotic beauty from Sweden moves to town. You had the perfect job with open communications, fairness, and positive leadership, and then, your reasonable and fair-minded boss is replaced by a pinhead.

These imperfections of timing and circumstance, like being caught in the eye of hurricane that wasn’t forecasted, present us with a choice. The Clash asked the question best, “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” As we luxuriate in our success and safety, the uncertainties of living – which is mostly everything – delivers us a pizza with anchovies. Send it back and it will be another hour and a half before you eat. Pick off the anchovies and you can still taste them. Eat the anchovies and it begs the question, “Who actually eats these things?”

In her book, Necessary Losses, author Judith Viorst teaches us that we have seen this all before and have all experienced these critical and epiphanic moments at every stage of our development. As adults, however, when health, financial security and our commitments become threatened by the unsanitary flush of disorganization, real fear can invade our decision queue in a serious and possibly crippling way. We can become scared to leave and scared to stay in the same moment. Making distasteful decisions will always be a part of being an adult. Whether or not our choices are healthy for ourselves, our families, our friends and our associates is yet another issue. On rapprochement of an 18 month-old child… we are feeling: Help! On the other hand, we don’t want help. Or rather, we both want it and don’t want it. And, besieged by contradictions, we hold on tight and push away, we follow and flee. We insist on our allpowerfulness and rage – RAGE! – at our helplessness, and our separation anxiety intensifies. Craving that old sweet oneness, yet dreading engulfment, wishing to be our mother’s and yet be our own, we stormily swing from mood to mood, advancing and retreating – the quintessential model of two mindedness. – Judith Viorst, Necessary Losses

 

Enter Rhapsody of the Soul’s Timens Decedende. Timens Manendi. The piece begins musically in the safety of the feminine – the good mother. It is the calm before the storm. The low bass voice intrudes in this reflective place with a warning, “Timens decedende. Timens manendi.” Scared to leave. Scared to stay. The feminine is now joined by the masculine with one last shared pleading, “Suavis,” where both yearn for the sweet oneness that they know will soon be gone. Now, the musical anticipates the emotional where concern shifts to fear. It is within the very nature of this fear which now transforms us musically and figuratively to an all male maelstrom, powering us away from thoughtful contemplation and exploding toward action and resolution. The masculine allure to risk is a major evolutionary component to the success of the human race. But, risk can also go blind and action alone can fail to satisfy. The holy grail of resolution, when finally reached, leaves us alone, separated from each other, left only with our personal trauma to endure. When the masculine is excavating safety only from decisiveness, we can all be seductively drawn into this frenetic yet highly-organized battle cry. This piece ends with that battle cry: masculine’s ultimate weapon powered by our deepest genetic and psychological longing for conclusion – no matter the cost.


rhapsody of the soul gary powell composer

Now Available Online for Worldwide Download from These Stores

iTunes Worlwide button
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Rhapsody of the Soul

(Separation, Loss and the Hope for Healing and Resolution)

An original work for the Austin Contemporary Ballet
Choreographed by Greg Easley, Artistic Director
Composed and Produced by Gary Powell
Latin Translations by Barry Brandenburg

1. Suavis Unitas Ne Discedas (Sweet oneness depart Not.)
2. Veniri Necesse Mihi Pati (It must come. I must suffer.)
3. Prudens Viae Nihil Moveor (I know my path. I do not move.)
4. In Umbris Progreditur Et Novit Amicos (It moves in shadows and knows my friends.)
5. Timens Decedende. Timens Manendi (Scared to leave. Scared to stay.)
6. In Morte Perditus (Lost in death.)
7. Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison (Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.)

Amy Atchley – Soprano
Chris Martin – Alto
James Fenner – Percussion
John White, Billy Henry,Gary Powell,
Joe York, Scotty Roberts – Male Chorus
Chris Martin – Alto
Illustrations: Antonio Muñoz

All Content of Gary Powell’s Site is Licensed Under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License

.