Kitty Hawk (Brother’s Tears)

For two vibraphones, flute, soprano, and speaking voice, (2010)

“Kitty Hawk (Brother’s Tears)” is one of the first songs from an extended work for percussion, strings, choir and soloists that explores the mystery of brotherhood. The story, such as it is, follows two pairs of brothers–one historical (Orville and Wilbur Wright, as they seek to preserve and share their aircraft inventions) and one imaginary (These unnamed brothers are bound together by the death of their sick mother and seek to uncover the secrets she left unspoken).

Throughout the piece the soprano soloist recaps the story of the Wright Brothers, from their humble beginnings in West Dayton, Ohio, under the strict moral tuteledge a religiously zealous father, to their triumphant first flight on the dunes in Kitty Hawk. The Wright brothers were playful, scared, loving and industrious in each other’s company in a way that speaks to an organic closeness that allowed them to achieve remarkable success. While most stories of the Wright brothers end with their first successful flight, this story begins with that flight. For almost 3 years after their first flights, the brothers didn’t fly at all as they worked to protect their inventions, stave off skeptics and woo financial backing. This time was full of so much anxiety, doubt and tension that they almost didn’t receive recognition that we unquestioningly acknowledge.

At the same time, the imaginary brothers of our story are introduced by way of list of questions (ranging from the intimate to the absurd) asked of each other at the same time. These questions reveal a relationship full of mundane details and skewed morality. We don’t hear the answers to these questions during the piece, so there is an implicit sense that they are being asked not only of each other, but of the audience (and possibly the Wright Brothers) as well. Whereas the Wright Brothers are seen as almost mythical in their stature, our imaginary brothers are undeniably pedestrian, though their intimacy is striking and disarming.

(Al Cerulo and Joe Bergen – vibraphones; Megan Schubert – soprano; Aaron Siegel – speaker )

Kitty Hawk (Brother’s Tears)
[audio:Kitty Hawk.mp3]