We Have Taken and Eaten

In writing We Have Taken and Eaten, I tried to construct a musical language that was composed of sound materials that might have been left over in the dustbin of history. I imagined the soloist acting as the last human scavenging through the garbage heap of culture and then trying their best to construct a story from the fragments of trash. The story is about what we did to ourselves and the planet, and it’s also a story that attempts to create a new narrative for ourselves as we move into an uncertain future. And in the words of the poet, Abby Minor: “We Have Taken and Eaten is the result of collaboration between a composer, a percussionist, and a poet. The poems grew from ideas and questions raised by two sources: the origin stories in the biblical Genesis, and Englishman Thomas Hariot’s Narrative of the First English Plantation in Virginia, a sixteenth-century account written in support of North American colonization. The poems try, in their own way, to explore the questions raised by both of these texts about the relationship between relentless productivity and punishment/oppression. In making this piece we were interested not so much in presenting a story or an argument as a non-linear meditation on the origin stories from which the poems, and consequently the music and the performance, emerged.We aimed, as Gertrude Stein aimed in her own plays, not for a narrative but for a landscape. We think of this music as one impression of the intimate emotional traces left by these master narratives as they continue to move, glacier-like, slowly over and through us, as they continue to undergird our lives in perplexing and powerful ways.”

Commissioned by Kevin Sims and supported in part by The Pennyslvania Council on the Arts and The National Endowment for the Arts

Text written by Abby Minor

Here’s a link to a very in-depth and brilliantly produced radio episode of Arts & Letters by J. Bradley Minnick of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Public Radio.

World Premiere:
June 13, 2015; Bremen Town Ballroom, Millheim, Pennsylvania
Kevin Sims, solo percussion
Abby Minor, reading and psaltery
Martha Hoffman, psaltery
Bryan Ferlez, drone temple bowl