Video Premiere: Departure Duo Performs The Boys Are There by Sarah Gibson

The spirit of the 1920s reverberates through words, architecture, and costuming in Departure Duo’s performance of Sarah Gibson’s The Boys Are There for soprano and double bass. Directed by Louis Ng, the video stations each compositional vignette in different locations around the Ainsley House, an English Tudor Cotswold cottage, as wardrobe changes for Nina Guo and Edward Kass complement the storytelling.

The Boys Are There takes its name from the opening poem of Men I’m Not Married To, a short novel by writer and satirist Dorothy Parker that describes, as the title suggests, nine men in her life that she did not marry. The witty collection includes long sarcastic rants, charming and nostalgic reflections, and, for a few of the men, incredulous single-sentence judgements (“Lloyd wears washable neckties”).

Gibson’s clever scoring and Departure Duo’s committed performances embody six of Parker’s nine men, including a rapid-fire tirade in the kitchen over sawing double bass (“Freddie”), bow overpressure and col legno taps accompanying the over-emphasized vowels and distorted facial expressions of the man who loves showing off his recent dental work (“Oliver”), and a 10-second angular and perplexed declaration about the aforementioned Lloyd.

Sarah Gibson--Photo by Aaron Fullerton

Sarah Gibson–Photo by Aaron Fullerton

Here’s what Sarah Gibson had to say about The Boys Are There:

In early 2019, Nina and Eddie introduced me to the wonderful world of Dorothy Parker’s writing. I was immediately drawn to her wit, boldness, sarcasm, and dark humor — all amidst an underlying feminist viewpoint. It was the first time I had worked with a singer who helped guide my choice of text, and it made the process all the more personal. In particular, Parker’s hilarious and wry “Men I’m Not Married To” jumped out at me, making me laugh from the moment I started reading it. I felt this text was a brilliant commentary on what women in the 1920s — and too often still — go through when feeling the pressure to find a husband/partner. In this work, I decided to trace what begins as a seemingly harmless exposé on these various men to whom she’s not married, as she veers more and more sardonically into an exasperated and manic frustration of simply not wanting to conform to these ridiculous patriarchal norms. These men run the gamut of being wildly boring, bizarrely quirky, and/or just downright someone she doesn’t want to give the time of day to… isn’t that enough?

You can catch Departure Duo on tour this spring to hear The Boys Are There performed live:

UC Santa Barbara Recital
April 19, 7pm, College of Creative Studies Art Gallery, building 494, room 103

Departure Duo at Indexical
April 24, 8pm

Departure Duo at the Center for New Music
May 1, 7pm

About Departure Duo

Departure Duo is a soprano/double bass duo comprised of Nina Guo and Edward Kass. Committed to expanding the repertoire for this “high-low” combination, Departure Duo commissions new works and breathes life into existing pieces. They create dialogues within the soprano+double bass universe by showcasing its musical variety and pushing the limits of expressivity using the combination’s enormous range of sounds.

They have commissioned works from Katherine Balch, Mikhail Johnson, Emily Koh, and John Aylward, among others, and have been featured at Spoleto Festival USA, Yellow Barn, and Omaha Under the Radar. Departure Duo’s long-term project, “30 by ‘30”, is aimed at cataloging 30 hours of soprano+double bass music by 2030 through commissioning and premiering new works while also researching pre-existing ones. Their commissioning work has received support and recognition from Chamber Music America’s Classical Commissioning Grant Program and New England Conservatory’s Entrepreneurial Musicianship Department.

About Sarah Gibson

Sarah Gibson is a Los Angeles based composer and pianist whose works draw on her breadth of experience as a collaborative performer with a deep interest in the creative process across various artistic mediums. She has received recognitions such as the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s Sound Investment composer, a Copland House Residency, and a Chamber Music America Grant. She has received commissions from the Tanglewood Music Center, Arco Collaborative, the Toulmin Foundation, and Seattle Symphony, among others. Her music has been performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Atlanta Symphony, Jennifer Koh, and at various venues across the United States and Europe.

Sarah is co-founder of the new music piano duo, HOCKET, who is a core artist for the inimitable Los Angeles Series, Piano Spheres. Sarah is Assistant Teaching Professor in Composition at the University of California, Santa Barbara where she is the director of the Ensemble for Contemporary Music.


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