Wise Blood

by Anthony Gatto

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about

‘Where you come from is gone, where you thought you were going to never was there, and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it.’ (O'Connor)

The young shattered war veteran Hazel Motes shouts these words from the hood of his car in Wise Blood. America as a "nation of immigrants" shares his sermon as its origin story—or otherwise had it forced on them along the way. Haze may as well also be addressing: the reckoning of America's racist history, its terrorism, voter suppression and disenfranchisement, the genocide of America’s indigenous people, and more recently, climate change, pandemic change, Oxycontin, the militarization of police, the White House flouting the rule of law... “Where you come from is gone” sermonizes on the ways of lost nations and their lost mythologies, and also, the future lost innocence of every child who bears this legacy of being an American.”– Anthony Gatto

Wise Blood’s plot unfolds with forward motion, as we follow the story of traumatized soldier Hazel Motes upon his return to a transformed hometown in Tennessee. The musical setting in Wise Blood often provides introspective support to Motes’ unfolding story of coming to terms with what has been transformed, personally and communally, since going off to war. Influences of gospel, traditional spirituals, music theatre, brass fanfares, and studio produced pop songs shape a score that tackles the trajectory of loss of self, identity, and cultural connection.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Anthony Gatto has developed a diverse body of music, often informed by literary and visual arts, exploring alternative narrative modes and structures. His cross-media works include the music and libretto for Wise Blood, after the novel Flannery O'Connor. Commissioned by the Walker Art Center, Wise Blood (2015) presents the shattered war veteran Hazel Motes preaching the Church Without Christ from the hood of his car. Also commissioned by the Walker Art Center, his opera The Making of Americans (2008), based on the novel by Gertrude Stein, presents Stein's spectacular, universalist language celebrating generations of American families.

Anthony studied music privately with Ornette Coleman in the 80s, later founding The Festival Dancing in Your Head, dedicated to his music and influences. He completed a doctorate in composition at the Yale School of Music in 2001, and has received fellowships and awards from the Fulbright Scholar Program (Berlin), New York Foundation for the Arts, the Bush Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Meet the Composer, Inc, an ASCAP Grant to Young Composers; residency fellowships at Yaddo, The Millay Colony for the Arts, Aaron Copland House, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Willapa Bay Artist-in-Residence program. He is an Associate Professor of Music at City University of New York.

credits

released July 24, 2020

Hazel Motes: Martin Bakari
Asa Hawks:Brian Major
Sabbath Lily Hawks: Holly Hansen
Narrator, Mrs. Flood, Passenger: Gelsey Bell

Onnie Jay Holy: David Echelard
Enoch Emery: Jason Paul Andrews
Solace Layfield, Hawker: Michael Sommers
Porter, Policeman: Russell Rathbun

Scenes 1 & 12:
Geoffrey Landman, soprano saxophone
Kristen McKeon, alto saxophone
Erin Rogers, tenor saxophone
Zach Herchen, baritone saxophone
Will Lang, trombones
James Rogers, euphonium & tuba

Scenes 2 through 11:
The Adam Meckler Orchestra
David Bloom, conductor

Live Engineer: Reid Kruger
Mixed by: Christopher Botta and Anthony Gatto
Mastered by: Christopher Botta

An opera based on the novel by Flannery O’Connor music and libretto by Anthony Gatto

© 1949 by Flannery O'Connor; copyright renewed 1976 by Regina Cline O'Connor.

Permission granted by the Mary Flannery O'Connor Charitable Trust.

All rights reserved.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Anthony Gatto has developed a diverse body of music, often informed by literary and visual arts, exploring alternative narrative modes and structures. His cross-media works include the music and libretto for Wise Blood, after the novel Flannery O'Connor. Commissioned by the Walker Art Center, Wise Blood (2015) presents the shattered war veteran Hazel Motes preaching the Church Without Christ from the hood of his car. Also commissioned by the Walker Art Center, his opera The Making of Americans (2008), based on the novel by Gertrude Stein, presents Stein's spectacular, universalist language celebrating generations of American families.

Anthony studied music privately with Ornette Coleman in the 80s, later founding The Festival Dancing in Your Head, dedicated to his music and influences. He completed a doctorate in composition at the Yale School of Music in 2001, and has received fellowships and awards from the Fulbright Scholar Program (Berlin), New York Foundation for the Arts, the Bush Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Meet the Composer, Inc, an ASCAP Grant to Young Composers; residency fellowships at Yaddo, The Millay Colony for the Arts, Aaron Copland House, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Willapa Bay Artist-in-Residence program. He is an Associate Professor of Music at City University of New York.

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New Focus Recordings New York, New York

New Focus Recordings is an artist led collective label featuring releases in contemporary music of many stripes, as well as new approaches to older repertoire. The label was founded by guitarist Daniel Lippel (who is the current director), composer engineer Ryan Streber, and composer Peter Gilbert in 2003-4, and features releases from many of new music's most active performers and composers. ... more

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