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CD153   Stephen Paulus: The Five Senses



Stephen Paulus: The Five Senses
The Five Senses - Windows of the Mind
The Age of American Passions

Boston Modern Orchestra Project
Gil Rose, conductor

  • Program notes by the composer
  • Complete texts
  • 58'47" total playing time

CD153     $15.95

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The Five Senses - Windows of the Mind
Text by Joan Vail Thorne
Narrated by Janet Bookspan
1.   I. Proclamation
2.   II.  In the Beginning
3.   III. An Ode to the Nose
4.   IV. An Elizabethan Love Apple
5.   V. And I Did Eat of the Apple
6.   VI. The Four Provinces
7.   VII. Psalm to the Mouth
8.   VIII. Alpha and Omega
9.   IX. Let There Be Words and Lies
10.  X. Seeing is Believing
11.  XI. Look Out!
12.  XII. Perception
13.  XIII. Let There Be Light
14.  XIV. Proclamation
The Age of American Passions
15.  I. Animosities
16.  II. In the Spirit of Compassion
17.  III. Affirmations

listen Listen:
"Psalm to the Mouth" from The Five Senses by Stephen Paulus

Excerpt from the first movement of The Age of American Passions by Stephen Paulus


The Five Senses - Windows of the Mind

Music by Stephen Paulus
Text by Joan Vail Thorne

In November, 1991 Janet Bookspan presented the world premiere of my work for narrator and orchestra entitled Voices from the Gallery at Merkin Hall in New York City. The late Andrew Schenck was the conductor of the Atlantic Sinfonietta - a group of professional, freelance musicians from the Boston and New York areas. This work was the first collaboration between myself and playwright/librettist Joan Vail Thorne. The success of that work (a recording and over 50 performances by Ms. Bookspan throughout the U.S.) lead to a second commission. This one came from friend and colleague Eleanor Eisenmenger, who commissioned The Five Senses for the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and its conductor, Gil Rose, with Jan Bookspan again as the narrator. The premiere took place on March 7, 2003 at Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory.

The idea for The Five Senses originated with Joan Vail Thorne who suggested something more abstract than Voices from the Gallery. While the first work dealt with actual paintings and sculptures by famous artists where Joan had given someone in the painting something to say, this one was comprised of fourteen sections that addressed the human senses. Part of the magic of the text is that it doesn't chronicle or summarize the make-up of the senses. Instead, she shows us new aspects and attributes that constitute our senses and how we receive information and communicate with the world around us. I incorporated themes that repeat in different guises through the work and tie together some of the commonality between the senses. I purposely did not want the work to become too much of a segmented affair with many little sections strung together. So, I elided some sections to build larger musical forms. Parts ten through thirteen all have to do with the sense of sight and move continuously forward without stopping between movements. There are also "book ends" to the work since it opens and closes with a "proclamation." The opening one introduces us to the five senses. The final part poses the question, "Is there a sixth sense?" Some of the texts suggested their own format. The "Psalm to the Mouth" seemed to conjure up an almost chorale-like setting with an underpinning of rich, brass harmonies. In all movements I have tried to make the orchestra a complement and an enhancement to what the narrator is speaking.

The Age of American Passions

By Stephen Paulus

The Age of American Passions was commissioned by the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra Association to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the orchestra. (The Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra and Timothy Muffitt, conductor and music director, premiered the work on January 7, 1999 at the Centroplex Theatre for Performing Arts.) My intent was to create a work that would express, through the medium of the symphony orchestra, some significant aspects of the American spirit. The actual inspiration came from several books I read about George Washington in preparation for another work I ws writing at the time for narrator and orchestra. One of the authors referred to the final decade of the 18th century in America as "the age of American passions." Presum