Duration: 6:00
Instrumentation: Mezzo Soprano / Guitar
Premiere: October 13, 2017, Tenri Cultural Institute
Premiere performer: The Bowers Fader Duo
Publisher: A-Town Publications (ASCAP)
The Lone Tenement was commissioned by the Bowers Fader Duo.

Program Note:
The Lone Tenement
(2017) for Mezzo soprano and guitar, is the second piece in my “Sounding Image” series, where visual works of art are brought to life through song and sound. A detailed description of The Lone Tenement, George Bellows’ iconic oil on canvas from 1909, depicting a day-in-the-life of city dwellers, displaced by urban development, comprises the text of the work, the guitar shading each phrase of the voice in near-unison, punctuating the work with moments of palpable expression.
Erin Rogers (2017)

The Lone Tenement: George Bellows (1909); oil on canvas

Text: by Erin Rogers
Inspired by the 1909 George Bellows painting: The Lone Tenement

Beneath an overhead bridge,
Red, with rooftop peaks,
Stands a lone brick building,
Six floors high.
Length double the width,
Height triple the length,
Mostly shaded.
The top of the building bathed in sunlight.
Two windows on each floor.
The building looks strange with no neighboring buildings pressed against it.

Writing and signage cover the facing side,
Where the brick is faded.
To the left,
But still connected,
A fence or gate of sorts.
Slightly passed the gate,
In the shade directly below the bridge,
Folks gather around a fire.
A dozen or so,
Dressed mostly in black,
Mostly in hats.
Some lean into the flame,
Others talk in pairs.
One is in motion.
Further to the left,
One demonstrates a baseball swing,
While another squats in a catcher’s position.
Two others look on.
The clothing and activities indicate that the gatherers are all men.

Amen.

On the right,
A large, horse-drawn wagon,
With a horse.
In the distance,
A steamboat sits on the river,
Its plume of smoke billowing straight vertical.
These tools of transport appear stationary at the moment

On the left,
Two leafless trees,
Tall and dark,
Covered in branches.
To their left,
A clump of shorter buildings.
Even further back,
Upon the water’s edge,
A bright orange building bathed in sunlight,
Smokestack in front,
Under a grey sky,
Next to a blue river.
Beneath the bridge lies a glassy puddle.

 

Purchase Sheet Music: The Lone Tenement