Hydrogen Jukebox and Solace

The soul yearns for peace in a time of crisis…

A chance encounter between minimalist composer Philip Glass and beat poet Allen Ginsberg results in the collaboration, Hydrogen Jukebox

Hydrogen Jukebox is a chamber opera, taken from a phrase coined by Ginsberg, from his poem Howl.

‘…listening to the crack of doom on the hydrogen jukebox…’

Of the project, Glass said:

“In 1988…I happened to run into Allen Ginsberg at St. Mark’s Bookshop in New York and asked him if he would perform with me. We were in the poetry section, and he grabbed his book from the shelf and pointed out Wichita Vortex Sutra. The poem, written in 1966, reflected the anti-war mood of the times, seemed highly appropriate for the occasion. As a result I composed a piano piece to accompany Allen’s reading, which took place at the Schubert Theater on Broadway.

The reading went so well they decided to collaborate by creating a full-length work. A small orchestra and six voices with text compiled from Ginsberg’s catalog of poetry.

According to Ginsberg, “Hydrogen Jukebox signifies a state of hypertrophic high-tech, a psychological state in which people are at the limit of their sensory input with civilization’s military jukebox, a loud industrial roar, or a music that begins to shake the bones and penetrate the nervous system as a hydrogen bomb may do someday, reminder of apocalypse.”

The crisis state of Syria and the pending talks with North Korea that fills our airwaves compels the music of our heart to find solace and meaning from this past work. My personal mission today is to listen to and comprehend Hydrogen Jukebox. 

May the past genius of Ginsberg and Glass bring the soul peace.

 

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