Men, Women and Molecules

(First published February 14, 2010)

We are very excited to have just received the music from our latest commission. Frank Wallace has written for us a six-movement song cycle entitled Men, Women and Molecules, based on the beautiful poetry of Nobel Prize-winning chemist and accomplished poet and playwright Roald Hoffmann of Cornell University. Frank wrote this about the set:

The six-song-cycle begins with musical references to Roald’s Eastern European roots, minor scales with augmented seconds and compound meters. It progresses into lighter jazz harmonies, symbolic of his new homeland, in “Where shall I look for her?” and uses the image and music of “Amazing Grace” as sung by Judy Collins. The major seventh interval plays an important role throughout the cycle, both as a clashing dissonance, and as part of sentimental jazz chords. “Next slide, please” is a light-hearted jab at the academic world of science, but it proved the most daunting to set. The clashing dissonances and awkward melodies are intended as a technical or scientifically calculated counterpoint to, rather than a direct expression of, the inherent humor in the poem.

Learning these pieces will be a lot of fun, and we look forward to premiering them in the coming months.

John Olson