ETHERIA: A Modern Musical

2002 Jeffrey L. Sponsler

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Review of the project at an early stage by jazz/funk keyboardist Peter Reppert:

... I think you did a masterful job and that your efforts really paid off. The most remarkable improvement is the addition of the voices. Jane was perfect for the Narrator and Claudia Friedlander's voice is a real treat for the ears. The best supporting actor/vocalist is Dan Rehner, hands down. I thought he did an excellent job. I also liked what you did with the Etherian Chorus - the harmonizing makes the the tune more palatable and evokes a Greek Chorus. I'm really glad you expanded the theme of "Alone" in the latter part - it's still my favorite tune. I thought some of the singing was too technically perfect, but a little lacking in character. In particular, I would have liked a more souful rendition of "Spores" and "Alone," flawless though the performance was. I kept picturing Paul Anka flitting about the spore-lab complaining how icky everything was (besides those were the parts I wanted to sing).

I like your poetic use of techie words, and the way you cover many themes like environmentalism, animal rights, money as the root of all evil, etc. I'm still grappling with what you're saying about the loss of "mythology." Are you stirring the philosophical/political pot, or was this just something that came along with the 'Canterbury Tales' framework? There seems to be a strong message of "progress" ruining a utopian society by shattering its religious faith, or, if you will, world view.

Also, if recording sound is such a horrible thing, how should the listener feel, listening to a recording (of the very tunes that were not to be recorded)? It doesn't seem like that was part of your statement, but it has to occur to anyone who hears the piece.

I'm not sure I'd say it's too long anymore, although if you were to perform it live, you could probably trim it. In particular, there's an awful lot of introduction and explication. Nice though the beginning pieces are, as far as the story goes, it could start with "The Arrival" or even "The Plot to Steal the Music." For all the fanfare, I'm not sure I understand who the harmonauts are, or what their motives are. Just a group of sentients who fly around the remote reaches of the galaxy singing songs for beings that can't or won't go themselves, like minstrels of old visiting remote villages?

The recording itself is well-engineered, as always.