"Elliott Smith-- a person who is so individual, shy, against trend and type, making his own work, speaking from the heart, going against convention, not aspiring to be a famous and powerful person, not about branding, not about any of that. And, also a person who didn't hide his frailties and was vulnerable and real with who he was and the struggles he went through. Nothing we could ever do will alter that. We are not looking to revisit his biography. We see and honor that and we know that his artistry will stand and flourish over time. We are just trying to speak back to him our love for him and also move that forward in the way that we work as artists." -Jonathan Walters, Creative Director, Hand2Mouth Theatre
HONORING A LEGEND
The profound influence of Elliott Smith (1969-2003) continues to echo long after his death, and to honor and explore the music of this Portland icon, Third Angle New Music has commissioned 6 leading young composers to reimagine his repertoire. In a blockbuster collaboration, Hand2Mouth & Third Angle will create an evening-length performance piece that illustrates and celebrates Smith’s musical talents and legacy.
This is the third and final piece in Hand2Mouth's Portland trilogy, focusing on the PNW and what makes it unique, showcasing artists who have changed the world with their work, created here. First was an adaption of The Left Hand of Darkness, produced with the incomparable Ursula Le Guin. Second was a project created in collaboration with renowned film director, Gus Van Sant, entitled, Time, A Fair Hustler. This project, A Fond Farewell, is the culminating piece of the trilogy, honoring Elliott Smith, a kind of poet laureate of Portland.
This piece presents the punky, grungy, squatty, brutal, unpolishedness found in his lyrics and music represented through our staging and intensity, juxtaposed against the almost baroque, classical, beauty, and brilliance of his poetry that will be reflected in the choreography. Our aim is to dive into the unknown and create sensations that effect you, but are not the pop hook or the culminating funny button joke at the end. Rather, they are feelings that land on you but that you can't quite put your finger on how or why you've felt them all along.
We are seeking community support and energy to meet the $7500 of our funding needs; to pay for the venue, artists fees, costuming and high-end lighting. Your support also allows us to hire teens as interns, in partnership with homeless provider Outside In, and donate tickets to community partners.
It’s only together, that we will create this one-of-a-kind event; staging bold interpretations of Smith’s greatest songs to celebrate a unique Portland icon.
A FOND FAREWELL
A Fond Farewell is a collaboration between two of Portland's most innovative, interdisciplinary performance companies: Third Angle New Music and theatre ensemble Hand2Mouth (H2M). Members of Sleeping Giant, a Brooklyn-based collective of composers, have been commissioned to reconsider fifteen of Elliott’s songs as contemporary classical pieces for a chamber ensemble and four singers.
In this collaboration we hope to make the project rise above a musical event and into a new hybrid: the performed concert. H2M pushes the limits of theatre, incorporating original, live music into our work, while Third Angle operates at the intersection of music, architecture and imagery. This project allows us to combine strengths in order to create an innovative yet accessible artwork that honors one of Portland’s most important artists and introduce his artistry to new generations of Portlanders.
This project has been underway for two years and we’ve raised over $50,000 including a prestigious grant from the National Endowment for the Arts; now we are less than two months away from the world premiere and we need your help to make it over the finish line.
H2M’s ensemble, led by Artistic Director Jonathan Walters, will choreograph movement for the cast (4 musicians and 4 singers) that theatricalizes the conventions of a classical concert, including moments of waiting to sing or play, entrances and exits and costume changes. Singers will appear, disappear and shift focus between one another to heighten the power of the music and create a subtle narrative.
H2M will oversee audience outreach in advance of the show, working with 2-3 interns from the homeless youth shelter, Outside In on marketing, production and rehearsal notation, as well as helping to create and market original programming aimed at engaging other youth. Enrichment activities will include post concert q&a, panel discussions on the collaborative process and Elliott Smith's place in the history of classical music, and a Portland screening of the documentary film, Heaven Adores You.
The performance will take place Friday April 13, 2018 7:30 pm at Alberta Rose Theatre.
DIRECTOR: Jonathan Walters* & Hand2Mouth
- Sam Adams, tenor
- Daniel Buchanan, tenor
- Maria Garcia, keyboard
- Valdine Mishkin, cello
- Chloe Payne, mezzo-soprano
- Hannah Penn, mezzo-soprano
- Holland Phillips, violin & viola
- James Shields, clarinet
- The Secret Sea, guitar & vocals
COMPOSERS: ROBERT HONSTEIN, JACOB COOPER, CHRISTOPHER CERRONE, TED HEARNE, SCOTT WOLLSCHLEGER & LJ WHITE
*H2M Company Member^H2M Resident Artist
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THIS PRODUCTION IS SUPPORTED IN PART BY: Oregon Community Foundation’s Creative Heights Initiative & the National Endowment for the Arts
Risks and challenges
As an artist creating a project with Elliott's music as its core, it is risky to venture into such a fervent and loving fanbase, who, through the power and intimacy of Elliott's music (and for those of us lucky enough; his live shows) feel so personally close to him. And of course there will be those who say that his music would never be performed in such an elevated, 'classical' or classically poetic 'highbrow' tradition.
As Pitchfork wrote about Elliott Smith, "Ever since he died, 10 years ago today, people have been clamoring to tell Elliott Smith's story for him: writers, poets, fellow musicians, his religiously devoted fans—anyone who felt the subliminal undertow of his songs. The urge is understandable."
With this project we take on the risk of people's real feelings of owning his story, and that other (outsiders?) do not, and can not. We accept that risk; but feel we must make this work in our own field with all due respect.
All of the artists on this project understand that Elliott's musical power, and his complex and difficult life story can never be altered or affected by any other artist's efforts; we want to take on the challenge of placing his remarkable catalog of brilliant songwriting into a new setting: the 'Composed Concert'; a new genre where newly composed music, singers, and theatrical staging meet. We hope that we can honor all those who respect and guard Elliott's legacy with our own new efforts in a daring new genre; as our own labor of love, and with the hope of letting some new generations of music lovers think of his work in another light.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (29 days)