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.

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.”

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.

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.”

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.

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.