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Read Randolph Area Composers Concert at Chandler Music Hall by D. Mickey Drysdale, The Randolph Herald.
Read Vermont Composers' Works Premiere at Chandler Music Hall by Tom Hill, The Valley News.
Read Randolph's Treasure Trove by Jim Lowe, The Times Argus.
Read a review of the original orchestra version of Climbing to Heaven (2002) for readers, actors, and chamber orchestra by Jim Lowe, The Times-Argus
Download an MP3 file of a performance of the original orchestra version of this work by the Montpelier Chamber Orchestra and Randolph (VT) Community Readers, Catherine Broucek Orr, conductor.
View/download a PDF file of the full score of this work (piano quartet version). For perusal only; parts are available upon request. Please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org with performance inquiries.
View/download a PDF file of the full score of this work (woodwind quartet version). For perusal only; parts are available upon request. Please write to: email@example.com with performance inquiries.
Based on "The Wisdom of the Desert -- translations of the sayings of the Desert Fathers", by Thomas Merton
Original orchestra version commissioned by the Chandler Center for the Arts for premiere June 1, 2003 -- Randolph, Vermont
Climbing to Heaven is a dramatization of sayings of fourth-century Desert Fathers (hermits) as translated by Thomas Merton in The Wisdom of the Desert. Merton's writings bring to life these colorful and uniquely-charming monks. Their humor, their simplicity and their imagination create a world worth visiting by contemporary readers andaudiences. And thus, this staged work endeavors to make this voyage possible.
Two READERS, dignified yet dramatic. The roles of the two READERS are equal. The READERS stand on opposite sides of the stage, and exchange readings in a commentary manner. [Readers wear black concert clothing at the Introduction and Conclusion of the work. They wear monks' habits for the majority of the presentation.]
A group of MONKS (optional) as the non-speaking actors to dramatize/pantomime the sayings and stories. The MONKS are divided into older Brothers (such as Abbot Anthony, Abbot Pastor, etc.) and younger Brothers (such as the young monk trying to climb to heaven). It is envisioned that there be at least 6 MONKS. More would be preferable. Since movement is an essential part of the dramatization, the actors should also be comfortable with dance. [MONKS may be male or female.] The MONKS move with heads bowed, faces covered by their hoods. Their focus is humility, looking downward, until the end of the drama, when they look up to heaven in prayer.
In lieu of actors to portray the MONKS, the READERS are asked to assume a dramatic role. Through pantomime and dance movement, as suggested by instructions in the score, the READERS will portray the activity described in the narrative.
CHAMBER ENSEMBLE of piano quartet (Vln, Vla, Vcl, Pno) and percussion. A conductor is not necessary if the READERS are comfortable following the music in the score.
The movements of the MONKS (or READERS) are intended to be synchronized with the music. Many of the stage actions are paralleled by musical gestures. Thus, it is important to follow the instructions provided in the score. These guidelines may be enhanced in the dramatizations. A close interaction between the musicians and the actors is desired.
Notes by the composer