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It Happens Like This

Instrumentation
soprano, alto, tenor, bass and chamber ensemble (cl/bcl,bsn,tpt,tbn, perc(2),hp, pno, vln,vla,vc,cb)
Year
2010
Duration
40:00

Commissioned by the Tanglewood Music Center and Southwest Chamber Music (CA)

It's much easier using words to talk about words than it is using them to talk about music. Really, people who want to talk about music should compose music that illustrates the point they want to make about the music they are talking about. With this in mind, I want to talk about the poems I have set in It Happens Like This and how they shape the score.

There are seven poems, taken from different parts of the same volume of Tate's remarkable poetry, but arranged in a roughly symmetrical way. The pillars of the building are the first, middle, and last: they all have animals as their central characters and in the outer ones these animals are really apparitions – a goat in the first and a wild turkey in the last – and they transform the person who describes their appearances. The middle poem stands karma on its head, as a dog reincarnated as human as a reward for being a good dog finds the promotion less desirable than expected. But as always with Tate, it's not quite that simple, for a chief reason the original dog's life was so good arose from the care he received from the farmer for whom he worked.

-CW, 2012

"Charles Wuorinen's It Happens Like This, was so substantial. And fabulous." New York Classical Review, 2015

"The cantata is thoroughly charming. The quirky characters and foibles of Mr. Tate's seven poems are complemented by Mr. Wuorinen's pungent score," New York Times, 2012


|"With charming, acerbic singing and flamboyant acting from Sharon Harms, Laura Mercado-Wright, Steven Brennfleck and Douglas Williams, the performance made a delicious success of hilariously knowing texts by James Tate." New York Times, 2015