When Nights Were Dark
composer Joseph Jennings

When Nights Were Dark (2000)

From Program Notes:

We crave a cradle of music, the mother of all music. Where did music come from? Like painting, it came from earth, wind, weeping, and the emotion of awe, from being touched, or warmed by somebody, or losing that, it came through voices, through our bodies, from humble surrender to time that does not stop. Whatever the religion is and the culture is, people everywhere sing lullabies, mourning songs, communal prayers, collective sighs. I am imagining a simple fragmented song without understandable words as if the fragment of song had been carried across hills and across time to come to welcome the dead and comfort the grieving family. And we believe there were songs before words as there were emotions before civilization.

We work together with our collaborators to devolve, the opposite concept of evolve. This means to work toward the ancient time when dance and song were forming before any technique or a language came to exist. We should recapture primal concerns and desires hoping to feel our elementary emotional need for both surrender and salvation.

Our stage set is hand-crafted. We painted each pieces of cheesecloth and glued to the set that is manually turned full circle taking 80 minutes. Lighting is placed within the set so it glows from within. This cave-like structure suggests our destiny and our beginning. This set is also an altar and a hearse where the audience feels invited to pray without a language.

--Eiko

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