Igor Stravinsky once said that “A good composer does not imitate; he steals.” In Histories, a new piece by Brooklyn-based composer collective Sleeping Giant and commissioned by the Deviant Septet ensemble, they do just that, stealing from the bad boy of music himself in what becomes a revisionist and exhilarating look at history, artistic influence, remix culture, and the process of creation.
On May 24, Deviant Septet and Sleeping Giant joined to present Histories at Brooklyn’s Issue Project Room. Deviant Septet is an ensemble of musicians that came together to fulfill Stravinsky’s unique vision of instruments needed for his L’histoire du Soldat ensemble. L’histoire du soldat, or The Soldier’s Tale, was a theatrical work based on a Russian folk tale composed by Stravinsky and initially performed in 1918. Scored for a septet of double bass, clarinet, bassoon, cornet or trumpet, trombone and percussion, Stravinsky had imagined that this combination of instruments would grow in influence and scope. Deviant Septet’s mission is to not only realize Stravinsky’s unfulfilled dream, but to extend his vision, commissioning avant-garde and unique works to add a spark of the unusual to modern chamber music. Sleeping Giant consists of six emerging composers (all Yale School of Music Graduates: Timo Andres, Ted Hearne, Jacob Cooper, Christopher Cerrone, Andrew Norman, and Robert Honstein) who, similarly to Deviant Septet, are unafraid to shake things up a bit in the contemporary classical world, and are drawn to one another based upon mutual respect of their unique compositional voices.