Arty – Facts

  1. Background information: “Artifacts” was composed by Eric Banks for the SYC Ensemble Singers’ 50th Anniversary, and was premiered at THREE in December 2014.
  2. Method: from a body of poems that I had previously written, Eric selected lines/sections, and re-arranged them to create a libretto. He took as inspiration the 50 Artefacts for 50 Years series (in celebration also of the choir’s 50th anniversary), which you really need to check out here.
  3. Factoid: When I first posted on the blog, I wrote about the choir’s tour in Turin while nursing malicious earworms from Eric’s “Twelve Flowers”—a composition in 12 sections/movements with Japanese and English text sung concurrently, over, under, around each other.
  4. For the past year, we’ve done quite a bit of other music composed after poetry. Off the top of my head: “Sonnet 43” (Elizabeth Barrett Browning x Kelly Tang), “Nona Sensilia” (Joyce Koh x Edward Lear and his nonsense verse), “Life has…” (Sara Teasdale x Ivo Antognini, “My Song” and “When Thou Commandest” (Rabindranath Tagore x Vytautas Miškinis x 2), “Nightmare” (Angeline Yap x Leong Yoon Pin), “De Profundis” (Federico Garcia Lorca x John August Pamintuan), and the list goes on…
  5. “walk inside the poem’s room/ and feel the walls for a light switch,” wrote Billy Collins, of the ways to read a poem. Not long ago, Mingboon blogged about approaching a note as one might a door: knocking tentatively, hacking through it, lingering too long before it, and ultimately finding that every door is different. Every experience of music/poetry/art is transformative, and we reach for metaphors of space & architecture to reflect this.
  6. Learning to piece together “Artifacts” with other people: (1) yes, those were precarious days for my battered tuning fork, (2) sometimes it was like a slow debugging of the ear… or a gentle cleansing of one’s third eye (some chords, I guess, do that to you), (3) when all else fails, the only thing you can do is dance—and the same is true of most things in life.
  7. If you could cobble together a meal from the ingredients mentioned in “Artifacts”, here’s what you’ll get: salted fish, sweet cream on a butter biscuit, a biscuit soaked in rainwater (why am I so obsessed with biscuits? I don’t know), honey, and a salad of roses, reeds and fern fronds. Maybe you should order takeout instead.
  8. For posterity’s sake, here’s a photo of Eric and I demonstrating—quite successfully, in fact—the art of the Side-Hug:

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— Samuel

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