The new songs by San Francisco composer Bryant Kong (tracks 1-7) are in an accessible style based in classical music with strong popular influences, from cabaret to pop. If you think of Rumsfeld as a character in a Gulf Wars II musical, these are the songs he might sing...
In a few short months, the unusual new work has attracted worldwide attention, with features on CNN, NPR, and the BBC; in dozens of major US newspapers; and on broadcast television in fifty US cities and more than a dozen countries. The San Francisco Chronicle called them "Lithe and witty art songs...executed with free-spirited bravura by soprano Elender Wall with the composer at the piano."
The seven songs show the Secretary not only holding forth from his press podium, but in introspective moments as well. These opposing moods are the natural results of the situation in which Rumsfeld finds himself: trying to sell a story that can't be sold.
Reflecting the range of texts, the songs are set in a variety of musical forms. The first song, "The Unknown," has a jaunty beat and repeated rhythms more often associated with pop music. You may recognize the now-classic words ("As we know, there are known knowns..."). "A Confession" is a haunting ballad. "Happenings" is a Hungarian-style march with pop influences. Other songs include a waltz and even a Baroque aria.
This is the debut album of classically trained artists Elender Wall, soprano, and Kong, on piano, who are currently on their Weapons of Mass Distraction Tour. The CD is the debut release of Stuffed Penguin Music.
Also on the CD are new and rarely performed American art songs, many recorded here for the first time. A selection of Cabaret Songs by William Bolcom (tracks 8-11) reflects both German and American cabaret styles. Expunged Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes, in which bad things happen to misbehaving children, are given jazzy settings by Jerry Mueller (13-15). Finally, the rarely performed Five Lewis Carroll Poems (16-20) are delightful settings by John Duke of the famous Alice in Wonderland poems, including the classic tale "Jabberwocky."
About the Artists
Elender Wall is well-versed in both standard and non-standard vocal repertoire. A champion of the music of living composers, she has had many new works written for her. She performs art songs, chamber music, and operas and has appeared throughout the United States, most recently with the Sonos Handbell Ensemble.
Bryant Kong is a composer, pianist, and humorist. A specialist in neglected classical repertoire--particularly the music of American composer Edward MacDowell--he performs in solo piano and chamber music concerts. The Poetry of Donald Rumsfeld is his first song cycle.
About Stuffed Penguin
Stuffed Penguin Music is devoted to bringing innovative classical music to a broader audience. Its mission is to make sophisticated music that is fresh and accessible.
For more information, visit us at www.stuffedpenguin.com
Check out the artist's website:
1. The Unknown
2. Glass Box
3. A Confession
5. The Digital Revolution
6. The Situation
9. Song of Black Max
12. The Early Frogs
13. Three children sliding on the ice
14. Baby, baby, naughty baby
15. This is the house that Jack built
16. The Lobster Quadrille
17. The Little Crocodile
19. The Mock Turtle's Song
20. The Duchess' Lullaby