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Christopher Bono: Invocations, 1: Exhaust, 2: Fish, Father, Phoenix, 3: Sunday Stills The Willow – The Missing (string quartet) – Invocation no. 2: Fish, Father, Phoenix (instrumental)

Instrumental ensembles, Woodwinds, Vibraphones, Percussion, Harps, and Field Recordings of Animals, Human Voice, and other Natural Sounds under the musical direction and engineering of Christopher Bono, Keith Rigling, Silas Brown, Paul Haas, and their mutual associates, including digital sampling, programming, and processing
Recorded at Dubway Studios, NYC, Water Music, Hoboken, NJ, and Apollo 37 Studios, Woodstock, NY (No recording dates listed) – 52’37
Our Silent Canvas (un-numbered) – Booklet in English

Distinguished works of Art are by their very nature complex and multi-layered. They are often profound and wide reaching with their implications. Classical Music and Opera are often the most difficult to penetrate. This is why true judgment of any given work can be given only after many hearings, and then the appraisal is only subjective at best. In many cases it is after the passage of generations before certain composer’s legacies are vindicated, and gain appreciation and acceptance into the repertoire, and into the admiration of the public. This can be true of even the most popular composers. Take the case of the great 19th Century Italian operatic composer Gaetano Donizetti, whose operas Lucia di Lammermoor, Don Pasquale, and L’elisir d’amore are among the most popular operas ever written. However Donizetti composed 70 operas and less than a dozen are ever presented before the public. This means there are at least sixty more great operas from Donizetti’s pen waiting to be discovered. It does stagger the imagination when one considers this fact.

I have been living almost daily with Christopher Bono’s singular and captivating chamber work Invocations since the end of August. His vocabulary is one with which I am totally unfamiliar. Although I was immediately drawn to this work, it was indeed several weeks before I could make heads or tails of it. How I wish I had a copy of the score to follow along with while listening. I would certainly have felt less handicapped, but then again, why should my journey down this road be made less difficult than yours?

Invocations appears to have been scored for both string trio and quartet, as well as for chamber orchestra. There are various groupings of winds, percussion, vibraphones, harps, and white noise tapes of his late father discoursing on the cycle of birth, life, death, and one’s own place in time and the cosmos, with a splattering of animal and nature sounds for good measure. To this heady brew you can inhale a bouquet of digital samplings of whatever whims and fancies. This is indeed a pungent and striking battery of sounds with which Bono concocts a broad, enticing, and unfamiliar musical landscape. The body of which is often underpinned with pulsating and driving rhythms. At other times the lifeline is sustained by dreamlike, entrancing, and hypnotic pulsations.

We can assume from the title “Invocations”, that these are movements of prayer and supplication, but this can only be a starting point for the listener. It would be unfair for any reviewer to put words into the mouth of the composer and try to determine what is being said here. One can certainly feel the moments of nostalgia, of joyous energy, of sadness and contemplation, of humor and inquiry. This is why the music must speak for itself and directly to you.

Christopher Bono is a bold and daring composer, who likes to get in your face with what he has to say. I encourage you to give him ear and listen. If you find it too much to absorb in one hearing, set it aside and return to it later. Recall that Brahms symphony you detested for so many years, which now is one of your favorites. Christopher Bono has a great amount of his life and his experiences that he is eager to relate. For what it is worth he was once a major league baseball player reborn as a “Rock ‘n Roller”! He now expresses himself in a new-age dialect of a most familiar language...Music! The questions he poses will stir your imagination. I suspect you will delight in where he is going to lead you.

Micaele Sparacino




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