KUBLA KHAN
Recital Aria #3 (2002), Text by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
For Tenor, Alto Flute, Viola, and Guitar

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by Christopher Fulkerson

CF with Hostbaby Check
"In Dollars Fiat"
CF in 2012 with his first royalty check as a recording producer
for sale of the double CD Set
MODERNISM FOREVER

 

CF's Composition Desk

CF In His Studio
About the time of work on THE RECOGNITIONS
the textbook VOCAL MUSICIANSHIP,
written for the SF Girls Chorus,

and the cantata REMEMBER THE STARS

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My Recital Aria Kubla Khan was written as part of the music theater piece A MIRACLE OF RARE DEVICE.
At the point in Act Two of A Miracle when its two gentle hobo protagonists meet the customer simply described as being "like an architect," this mysterious individual, who acts as though he already knows what to expect, begins reciting the well-known S.T. Coleridge poem as a description of his vision of the stupendous mirage everybody has been seeing. As the Architect sees and describes Xanadu, so too do the hobos, and with this turn in the story the two men realize they have something even greater than the magic they thought they knew about and on which they had been trying to capitalize in their roadside vista point.

The compositional method I employed for this piece was to write A Miracle of Rare Device in a free style, deriving its ideas from the meanings in Ray Bradbury's text, up to the point the Architect quotes from the Colerdge poem. For Kubla Khan I wanted something in a more "architectural" than free style, in a style "suitable for quotation," one might say, something that suggested both the classicism of Coleridge and a "difference" in tone appropriate to the higher significance of the story's moment. I therefore, and without delay, set the music theater piece aside and wrote a complete setting of Kubla Khan that could stand alone. I made it a companion piece to others I have written, for tenor and guitar or ensembles including guitar, flute or viola, and set it for male voice, as seems to be indicated by the oracular poem in the first person known to have been of personal importance to Coleridge. I then returned, again without delay, to the theater piece with the completed setting of Kubla Khan so that when A Miracle of Rare Device quotes the Coleridge it does so in my setting, though in a manner recast to suit the theater piece, and at a pitch level appropriate to that work for female voice.

My Kubla Khan is meant to have the rhapsodic and passionate sense of visionary effusiveness associated with its source, including its mystery, its nostalgia, its grandness and its lyrical eroticism. I thought that a few antique sounds would sometimes be correct for a work that is meant to recall ancient vistas. I have plans for use of some of the materials in Kubla Khan, though I will have to leave listeners in suspense about what these plans may entail...

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Copyright 2013 by Christopher Fulkerson

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