Country Life

duration: 8:00
instrumentation: Soprano, Bb Clarinet, Piano
publisher: A-Town Publications (ASCAP) © 2010
Country Life was commissioned by Aleksandr Karjaka and Amanda DeBoer Bartlett.

Program Note:
Country Life for Soprano, B-flat clarinet and piano, is the first piece in my “Sounding Image” series, where visual works of art are brought to life through song and sound. In December 2016, I was introduced to Canadian photographer Jason Brown’s ongoing survey of contemporary Canada entitled You Seem To Be Where I Belong, while walking between terminals at Toronto Pearson Airport. Brown’s photo prints depicting homesteads and towns in rural Canada hung above the airport’s belted walkway, their grand size and vibrant colors drawing the eyes of travelers below, while their subject matter beamed with overwhelming simplicity and modesty, an irony that struck me immediately. Having grown up in rural Canada, I was compelled by the unapologetic combination of natural beauty – never-ending skylines, fields of tall grass – with honest symbols of rural life – the pick up truck, the airstream trailer rife with chickens, the propane tank.

Country Life is inspired by Brown’s work on two levels: 1. an attempt to combine natural, acoustic voice and instrumental qualities with modern techniques and acoustics 2. my best description of Brown’s photos, which comprise the text of this work.                                                                                                          —Erin Rogers (2017)

Text: b
y Erin Rogers
Inspired by the Jason Brown photography collection: You Seem To Be Where I Belong

On the western side
Of the lake divide
Lies a country road
With a gravel top and cattle gate
Up the road a ways
Sits a country home
With a shed in back
And a stable With a hay bale
Further back before the silo
Country road

In the front yard
Fastened to two trees
Rocks a wooden swing
Tilted to one side
Squeaking on rusty chains over overgrown grass

Down the road a mile or two
Is a country town
And a family restaurant
Decked with cedar siding, a front porch and a sign
Warm lights on the inside

A camper trailer in the front lot
With a gooseneck hitch
By a pickup truck
Black but caked in brown mud
Quad in box

Follow the slouching power line to the leaning power pole with transformer
Two red winged black birds land and walk the line
Further down the road
A small grey home with yellow trim
And a chipped brick chimney
An old white airstream in the driveway
With a broken window
Doubles as a free-range chicken coop
The chickens are mostly reddish-brown and white
They explore the nearby ditch
There are several five gallon pales
Some tipped over, some full of rain

Across the field of wheat
Is a baseball diamond
A chain-link backstop with a hole
And a wind-blown shale surface
With a cracked homeplate
The wind is from the northwest

Country Life is under exclusivity and currently unavailable for purchase.