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The Lunatic Fringe (2009)

chamber orchestra and pre-recorded voices, 15′


  • The Lunatic Fringe, scored for chamber orchestra and pre-recorded voices, reflects on the George W. Bush administration’s abuse of power, which resulted in the deaths of thousands of American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians.  The fifteen-minute work is divided into five large sections, which all use a musical monogram on the initials G. BUSH (G. = G, B = B-flat, U = C, S = E-flat, H = B-natural) as a basis for generating melodic and harmonic material.

    Beginning with a murky prelude, a brief snare drum solo introduces a collage of musical quotations taken from Bush’s favorite pop songs; Stevie Ray Vaughn hammers out the blues as “Little Susie” wakes up and is rocked along by “My Sharona.”  The bright kaleidoscope of party music eventually collapses on its own weight, as the voice of the commander-in-chief makes a grand entrance.  The irony in Bush’s rhetoric is amplified by sounds of news broadcasts that remind us of the realities of war. The music grows somber and the fringe’s lunacy is further exposed, as voices of grief-stricken families come to the fore.

    The Lunatic Fringe is dedicated to Muntadar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who on December 14, 2008, threw his shoes at George W. Bush in a symbolic act of defiance.

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