Dead Elvis by Michael Dougherty - Wednesday's Free Ensemble Monterey Download

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Dear Ensemble Monterey Friends - Michael Dougherty has long been one of my very favorite American composers. He is alive and well right now and living in the USA! For this reason it was a natural to pick Dead Elvis for our Halloween Concert in 2011. The diabolical bassoon soloist in our performance is Amy Duxbury. I'll get out of here and let the composer tell the story:

Dead Elvis (1993) was commissioned by Boston Musica Viva and Chuck Ullery, principal bassoonist with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. It is more than a coincidence that it is scored for the same instrumentation as Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat (1918) in which a soldier sells his violin and his soul to the devil for a magic book. In Dead Elvis, the bassoon is Elvis (or perhaps an Elvis impersonator). Does this rock star sell out his Southern folk authenticity to the sophisticated professionalism of Hollywood movies, Colonel Parker and Las Vegas in order to attain great wealth and fame? Dead Elvis goes far beyond this romantic Faustian scenario. For me, the two clashing Elvis images (the hip, beautiful, genius, thin, rock-and-roll Elvis versus the vulgar, cheesy, fat, stoned, Las Vegas Elvis) serve as a sturm und drang compositional algorithm. Further, my use of the “dies irae” (a medieval Latin chant for the Day of Judgment) as the principal musical theme of Dead Elvis signifies yet another aspect of the Elvis myth: some people believe Elvis is dead, while others believe he is alive and well in Kalamazoo. Perhaps the question is not whether Elvis is alive or dead, but why the phenomenon of Elvis endures beyond the grave of Graceland. Elvis, for better or worse, is part of American culture, history and mythology. If you want to understand America and all its riddles, sooner or later you will have to deal with (Dead) Elvis. –Michael Daugherty


To download this terrifying piece just click here. Please don't forget to join us on Sunday, October 25th at 3 PM for our free, live streamed opening concert of the season. To join us just go to our web site, ensemblemonterey.org


Yours in Music - John Anderson