SMALL CHAMBER ENSEMBLE - Wanderings (1994) - (fl, ob, cl, hn, bsn)

Program Notes:

Derek Bermel: Wanderings (1994) for woodwind quintet

In Jerusalem’s Old City, the Muslim and Jewish quarters exist side by
side. There are no absolute boundaries; those that are identified
exist largely through a mix of tradition, community, and fear.
Similarly, the musical threads of continuity appear and suddenly
vanish, remaining elusive. While strolling between the Wailing Wall
and the Arab Market, an outsider may find a peculiar fascination with
the interaction of these worlds whose fates have been inextricably
twisted together. The first movement of Wanderings, “Gift of Life,” is
a musical representation of this “Two Songs from Nandom” is based on
gyil music of the Daghati and Lobi peoples, who live in Northwestern
Ghana, Southern Burkina-Faso and Northeastern Côte d’Ivoire. The gyil
is an eighteen-key instrument resembling a Western marimba. Tuned
slabs of carved mahogany wood are bound with animal hide to a sturdy
wooden frame. Each key has its own gourd resonator; crushed and
flattened spider webs are seared with rubber over holes carved in the
gourds, creating a buzzing membrane as the keys are struck.

The stories surrounding the main songs, as related by Bernard Woma,
are as follows:

-Kola Per Bir, jo kol’ no op...
The cat fell asleep under a tree; his enemy the mouse saw his
opportunity, and bit the cat’s testicle, whereupon the cat promptly

-Baatazaa, ne no ne pulle
-Baatazaa, fu ir ben kume

Baatazaa, you have so many women
Baatazaa, please give me one
(Baatazaa is a great chief)

Wanderings was commissioned by the New York Youth Symphony/FIRST MUSIC
11 and was premiered at Weill Hall in Carnegie Hall in March 1995. I
acknowledge and thank the following gyil players or their assistance
and support: Ngmen Baaru, Abu Kowie, Richard Na-Ile, and Mark Stone.

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