Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Aurora University Choral Festival Post #8 Mashed Potato Love Poem

On October 21st at Aurora University Dr. Lisa Fredenburgh will conduct an excerpt (Mashed Potato Love Poem) from my three movement set Play With Your Food, written about twelve years ago. It's one of my most popular pieces and here are the program notes I usually provide.

Play with Your Food 
(published by Walton)

This set of three pieces is my most performed work. It's not too surprising, since I found three great, truly clever texts to set. May Swenson gives us a cornucopia of delicious summer treats, with the compound words all split apart and reconnected backwards; blueberries become “berries of blue”, Brazil nuts become “nuts of Brazil” and so on. My favorites are “rooms of mush” and “puppies of hush”! You might hear a bit of the music from the overture to “Porgy and Bess” toward the end, by the way. The text for “Mashed Potato Love Poem” is by Sidney Hoddes, a very cool guy who is now an elderly doctor still practicing in Liverpool--but wayback he was a friend of the Beatles and caroused with them in Liverpool before they became famous. The final movement, “Vending Machine”, about a hungry young lad and his happy to play-along Dad, has some lively musical hints of Bernsteins' overture to Candide popping up. Yes, I do like to parody or borrow from other composers or write in their general style now and then!

If I ever had to choose between you
you and a third helping of mashed potatoes
(whipped lightly with a fork
not whisked,
and a little pool of butter
melting in the middle...)

I think
I'd chose
the mashed potatoes

but I'd choose you next

One of my favorite memories from when I led the choral program at the North Carolina Governor's School was surprising the cafeteria staff with a mini-concert each summer with this song featured. We would make the staff stop working and sing to them. You should have seen all the smiles!

Here's a nice performance of the piece (with a bonus track of Vending Machine and an interesting touch they added to that tune) by Oran, a wonderful Canadian youth choir which is part of the Kokopelli Choir organization.

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