Protest Song was originally commissioned by New York's Sequitur
ensemble, as part of their series of "cabaret concerts" centered on
a specific theme ("protest" in this case). I decided to collaborate
with my dear friend, the poet Peter Gizzi, and during summer of
2001 we met to discuss an array of possible topics.
Then came September 11th.
A few months later Peter sent me a beautifully elegiac text, which
I immediately began to set. For some reason or another, his
description of the poem's emotional terrain, which he described as
emanating from "the hollowness of grief," reminded me of the sound
of natural harmonics on string instruments. The instruments in
Protest Song all play a very simple and naked music - the voice and
the text are the focal point.