Program Notes

Carols and Lullabies – Susa

Carols and Lullabies by Conrad Susa

Conrad Susa was resident composer for the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, and served as dramaturge for the O’Neill Center in Connecticut. He has also written numerous scores for documentary films and PBS television productions; choral and instrumental works; and operas (Transformations, Black River, The Love of Don Perlimplin and The Dangerous Liaisons). He has written a church opera (The Wise Women) for the American Guild of Organists. He has served as staff pianist with the Pittsburgh Symphony and as assistant editor of Musical America Magazine, and has won awards including Ford Foundation Fellowships, National Endowment for the Arts grants, and a National Endowment Consortium grant. Susa earned his B.F.A. from Carnegie Institute of Technology and received his M.S. from the Juilliard School, where he studied with William Bergsma, Vincent Persichetti, and P.D.Q. Bach.

He has said about Carols and Lullabies : “Four or five years ago, Philip Brunelle suggested I write him a companion to Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols. To a composer, this tempting offer was another way of asking, “How’s about writing us a hit?” After several years of me writhing in doubt, a friend, Gary Holt, showed me a collection of traditional Spanish carols he had sung as a boy in Arizona. Excited, I juggled them around to form a narrative. I noted their many connections with Renaissance music along with their homey, artful simplicity. Finally, the overriding image of a Southwestern piñata party for the new baby led me to add guitar and marimba to Britten’s harp and to compose connective music and totally re-conceive the carols.

In an often overlooked detail in the Christmas story, the New Baby bawls loudly as the shepherds leave in the final bars of Chiquirriquitín. (You may hear him in your mind.) His parents now must dandle and soothe him to sleep. Tired themselves, They drift off as the angels hover about them in protective adoration.”