Composed by Jonathan Berger
Libretto by Harriet Scott Chessman
On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the horrific 1968 massacre of more than 500 Vietnamese villagers by American soldiers in My Lai, Vietnam, comes a commemorative music performance. My Lai reminds us all of the horrors of the battlefield and the blight of the Vietnam War on the American soul.
Composer Jonathan Berger and librettist Harriet Scott Chessman are inspired by the story of Hugh C. Thompson Jr., the American helicopter pilot who intervened with his crew to stop the tragedy. The resultant 90-minute performance is divided into three movements to reflect the three landings they made in an effort to end the violence.
Together, the eminent American string ensemble Kronos Quartet, tenor Rinde Eckert and Vietnamese multi-instrumental artist Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ create an all-encompassing sound world as a backdrop to one of history’s most horrific tales.
The haunting sounds of traditional Vietnamese percussion instruments are blended with the digitally processed whir of helicopter blades, set against video projections and compelling images of poignant simplicity. They are all particularly effective at conjuring up and pulling the audience into the psychological world of the man who tried to prevent the carnage that occurred.
Enchantment is the antidote to cynicism, to forgetting, for we need to stay connected to justice, to still believe, to continually respond as human individuals in a sea of violence, conflict and suppression of information. Told from the perspective of pilot Thompson, who was persecuted for reporting the massacre, My Lai is a reminder of ethical generosity in turbulent times.
My Lai opens in Singapore before touring several US cities during the autumn of 2017 and spring of 2018.
17 and spring of 2018.
Drama Centre Theatre is located at 100 Victoria Street, National Library, Singapore 188064
Attend Drew Cameron, the creative consultant of My Lai, Interactive Exhibition and Paper Art Workshop.
31 Aug, 1-2 Sep at Drama Centre Theatre
Read more here.
For more than 40 years, San Francisco's Kronos Quartet – David Harrington and John Sherba (violins), Hank Dutt (viola) and Sunny Yang (cello) – has combined a spirit of fearless exploration with a commitment to continually reimagine the string quartet experience.
As one of the world’s most celebrated, influential ensembles, Kronos Quartet has performed thousands of concerts, released more than 60 recordings, and collaborated with many of the globe’s most intriguing, accomplished composers and performers. Kronos has commissioned more than 900 works and arrangements for string quartet. A Grammy winner, Kronos is also the only recipient of both the Polar Music Prize and the Avery Fisher Prize.
Jonathan Berger’s music has been widely hailed for its expressivity and powerful drama. Berger’s “dissonant but supple” (New York Times) compositions range from vocal, orchestral, and chamber music as well as electroacoustic music. Berger’s sixth string quartet, Swallow, was premiered in New York this season by the St. Lawrence String Quartet. Recent commissions include a work for the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Chamber Music America, Spoleto Festival USA, The National Endowment for the Arts, the Denver Chamber Music Society, and the Gerbode, Mellon and Ford Fellowships, among others. In addition to composing, Berger is an active researcher in music perception and cognition, and has authored over seventy publications. Berger is the Denning Family Provostial Professor in Music at Stanford University.
Harriet Scott Chessman
Harriet Scott Chessman is a fiction writer, the author of the acclaimed novels Someone Not Really Her Mother, The Beauty of Ordinary Things, Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper, Ohio Angels and The Lost Sketchbook of Edgar Degas. Her fiction has been on the San Francisco Chronicle’s Best Books list and featured on Good Morning, America and in The New York Times, in addition to being translated into ten languages. She has taught creative writing and literature at Yale University (where she gained her PhD in English), Bread Loaf School of English, and Stanford University. This is her first chance to create a libretto, and she is immensely grateful for this opportunity.
Rinde Eckert is a writer, composer, librettist, musician, performer and director. A classically trained singer with a flexible and inventive singing voice and electric physical presence, his award-winning Opera/New Music Theatre productions have run off-Broadway and tour throughout the U.S. and to festivals in Europe and Asia. The multi-instrumentalist collaborates art makers including composers Steven Mackey and Paul Dresher, choreographer Margaret Jenkins, directors Robert Woodruff and David Schweizer, and in addition to the Kronos Quartet, new music groups Roomful of Teeth and So Percussion. Finalist for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Drama, Rinde has received the Alpert Award in the Arts for Theatre and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Marc Blitzstein Award.
Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ
Vân-Ánh Vanessa Võ is one of the finest performers of Vietnamese traditional instruments in the world and a rapidly emerging composer. She dedicates her life to creating music by blending the wonderfully unique sounds of Vietnamese instruments with other music genres and fusing deeply rooted Vietnamese musical traditions with fresh new structures and compositions. In 1995, Vanessa Vân-Ánh won the championship title in the Vietnamese National Đàn Tranh (Zither) Competition. Since settling in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2011, she has been focussing on collaborating with musicians across different music genres to create new works, bringing Vietnamese traditional music to a wider audience and preserving her cultural legacy through teaching. She has thus been collaborator and guest soloist with the Kronos Quartet, Southwest Chamber Music, Jazz artists, Rap artists and other World Music artists.
Additionally, Vanessa Vân-Ánh has been co-composer and arranger for the Oscar nominated and Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner for Best Documentary, Daughter from Danang (2002), the Emmy award-winning film and soundtrack for Bolinao 52 (2008) and the winner of multiple “Best Documentary” and “Audience Favourite” awards, A Village Called Versailles (2009).