i got a call last week asking if i'd be able to take a portrait of composer george crumb at a secret rehearsal of his new piece, the wings of destiny.
when i was in college, the crumb buzz peaked when the kronos quartet annouced that they had recorded Black Angels, crumb's 1970 reaction to the vietnam war, long though to be unplayable because of its extreme complexity. everybody was listening to it. the recording is brilliant -- melodic, dissonet, frightening -- it was like being shot through the chest with a violin.
in any event, the wings of destiny is a composition for 125 seperate percussion instruments and human voice. i had carte blanche to photograph whatever i wanted from wherever i wanted and i am certianly unique among the people's of earth in that i had the distinct pleasure of hearing this composition from the inside -- including such vantage points as my head inside a steinway piano being played by a percussionist with mallets, like a marimba, and then with my lens two inches above the head of a kettle drum. it was a singular experience.
wings of destiny, a composition devoted to the sounds of America, with stirring and deep overtones of patriotism in its most complex forms, debuts in our country this september at the annenberg center for the performing arts.
crumb himself was incredibly soft spoken, polite, congenial, and good humored.