Exstream of Consciousness

for baritone, mandola, viola, cello, and piano

Text by Cynthia Fogg

premiered September 10, 2017
Bridges Hall, Claremont, California

score excerpt

Scenes from Sarajevo is based on six poems by Pasadena poet Beverly Lafontaine.

In a world with instantaneous dissemination of words and pictures, the cruelty and hardships that humanity inflicts upon itself are commonplace, although the details vary from one time and place to the next. The siege of Sarajevo has its own unforgettable imagery that no one exposed to the media in the early 1990s can easily forget: innocent people crossing a city bridge sporadically shot by snipers. A cellist playing alone in a town square, in defiance of the shells exploding around him. The news of many long-missing men discovered alive (or sometimes dead) only by their appearance on the television. Bodies floating down the river through the center of town. Ms. Lafontaine’s poems eloquently convey these scenes from various perspectives, often with an entirely unexpected intimacy and compassion. We see through the eyes of worried and grieving husbands, wives, children, and even a sniper.

I have long been attracted to the folk music of the Balkan region, and this setting reflects that, with drones, the mild dissonance of conflicting modes, and changing meters. The harmonic language of Ravel’s Chansons Madécasses was also in my mind, possibly because of its text. The ethnic tensions underlying the text of Ravel’s piece are perhaps more suppressed, but their ultimate violent outcome is never in doubt.

Scenes from Sarajevo is dedicated to Gwendolyn Lytle and Cynthia Fogg.


I sit as the king on my seat, on my throne
I use my great brain as I tweet on my phone
I've got all the great words, and billions and billions
Of hotels and golf clubs to call my own.

Kellyanne, Mooch, and Mitch and Paul
Bannon and Putin at my beck and call
Ivanka and Donald and Jared and Eric –
Cash away! Cash away! Cash away all!

Coal miners, you'll get jobs someplace
Healthcare for all, repeal and replace
Hit back, hit back ten times harder
Beautiful, beautiful, punch him in the face!

Believe me it's all very convoluted
But Putin and I have conferred and computed,
Excluded, refuted, disputed, saluted;
And concluded that nobody ever colluded.
Except for Puppet Hillary, who did.

Obama, left to his own devices
Produced a disastrous global crisis
Crooked Hillary helped him, but
As sure as I'm standing here Obama founded ISIS


As you know, I'm not one inclined to gloat,
But it was I who won the electoral vote,
The popular vote, too, by a landslide, believe me,
If you don't count illegals, quote unquote.

I can tweet louder than news that's fake
And give billionaire buddies a lovely tax break.
I can sell vodka and wine and steak.
I can order a war over chocolate cake.

The failing New York Times and garbage CNN
Will never Make America great again
I'm the only one
I'm the only one
I'm the only one that can Make America great again
the only one that can wreck America's fate and then
placate oilmen
isolate again
stagnate and then
third rate and then,
frustrate good men
nauseate again
and hate again