Anne LeBaron's music us a mixture of elements and influences--a combination of modern compositional techniques with rock, blues and gospel. The many facets of her talent are showcased in The Musical Railism of Anne LeBaron.
The cornerstones of the CD are her two solo performances on harp: Dog-Gone Cat Act for extended techniques on prepared harp, and I Am An American...My Government Will Reward You, a blistering piece for harp, live electronics and tape dedicated to "those on foreign soil who suffered to help Americans escape from hostile territory." Here the electric harp transforms itself into Hendrix-style electric guitar solos, at times also sounding like a bass guitar, classical guitar and lute (as well as harp!).
Also included are excerpts from her landmark "electronic blues-opera" The E&O Line, based on the Orpheus and Eurydice legend. Set in a 1920s juke-joint in the Mississippi delta to a libretto by noted writer Thulani Davis (who wrote the libretto for X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X), this incredible melding of opera and blues is passionately performed by leading gospel singers along with top New York rock and jazz musicians.
Chamber works include the delightful Waltz for Quintet and song piece The Sea and the Honeycomb conducted by the extraordinary Leon Fleischer.
Bea Weir writes in Contemporary Composers: "Of all the 'hypenate' composers at work in contemporary music, Anne LeBaron is one who perhaps most seamlessly joined the two halves of her personality. She has transformed contemporary harp playing into a solo instrument of considerable and sometimes disturbing power. The E&O Line and the prospective double concerto for harp & orchestra will help establish LeBaron as one of the most significant voices of her generation."
Alice Anne LeBaron
ReviewsThat is 'railism' - just where the train comes in, I'm not sure. Maybe it's to do with The E&O Line, LeBaron's jazzy "electronic blues opera", a reinterpretation of the Orpheus/Eurydice legend from Eurydice's point of view. LeBaron plays Orpheus's instrument, or at least its modern version, and the plangent "Dog-gone Cat Act" is a notated improvisation for prepared harp. The selections from her opera are played by some heavy-duty jazzers including Myra Melford, Fred Hopkins and Thurman Barker (the vocalists weren't familiar to me). But the most bizarre of an engaging, off-beat set of pieces is I Am An American...My Government Will Reward You, for electric harp, live electronics and tape, inspired by the "blood chit", a piece of silk cloth carried by US flight crews and to be used to ask for help when shot down, it's an angry mix of Americana and exotic Orientalism.