Coloratura, flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, banjo, guitar, percussion, piano, viola and cello on texts arranged from traditional nursery rhymes (30’).

For Marcy Richardson.

The Real Mother Goose for coloratura soprano and ten instruments deconstructs the texts of the English nursery rhyme tradition with an engaging theatricality. But beneath the surface is a seriousness of purpose—the majority of the texts in traditional nursery rhymes were originally subversive songs of political protest, masked to avoid persecution from royalty in Elizabethan England. A brief scan through these fables will, in fact, reveal numerous lessons and scenarios often involving nonsensical, or violent, subject matter. This work calls into question exactly how many of these rhymes are appropriate for the intended audience. In the setting of five newly arranged rhymes, the soprano assumes several character roles and is supported by a merry band that includes acoustic guitar, banjo, and an assortment of unconventional percussion instruments.

The composer broke apart rhyming couplets from over twenty traditional nursery rhymes and reassembled them in five groups according to themes prominent in the literature: 1) Jibberish words (“Spin Spun, Muskidun”), 2) Questionably erotic scenarios (“Hickety Pickety My Black Hen”), 3) Characters doing abnormal or inexplicable actions (“Jack Over Candlestick Jump”), 4) Counting (“One, Two, Buckle My Shoe”), and 5) Cruel and Violent Behaviors (“Fol De Riddle”)

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Live performance of Marcy Richardson, soprano, and members of the Thornton Contemporary Music Ensemble, conducted by the composer. Newman Recital Hall (Los Angeles, CA).