Esperanto Street Songs

Revised 12/21/2009

The death of Gene Kelly on February 2nd, 1996, hit me rather hard, almost as hard as the death of Leonard Bernstein. Kelly had been one of a handful of my heroes, a male role model who seemed to speak to many quiet recesses of my being. Any man who has a sensitive nature knows the challenge of finding role models that fit. I grew up during a time when John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, James Bond were role models for many boys. John Kennedy was too remote in his godliness for me to be able to relate to him, but he did inspire my father to enter government work in the State Department. Finding artists and scientists who were passionate and creative with their labors...these were models that I explored and thought about as I was growing up. Leonardo DaVinci, Nicolai Tesla, Kurt Weill, Gian Carlo Menotti, Fred Astaire, Isaac Stern, Bernstein, and Kelly....these were my heroes. Each in their own ways transformed an aspect of the culture (or future cultures) in which they lived. I wanted to be like them.


Cover art by Donna Ruff

Short excerpt (about 45 seconds)

Full piece (MP3 format)

Nascent Reaches Viola part (pdf)

I recommend downloading the file, rather than playing it straight over the Internet, which can sometimes give you interruptions and bleeps, as the next section streams in.

Just right click on the link and select Save target As (or Save Content of Link), then select a location on your computer.

When Kelly died I had a little panic felt like a light had gone out in the world and Earth was not quite as beautiful a place as it once was. I had to do something, anything, to keep the embers at least glowing a little bit. I knew there was nothing I could possibly do to carry on Gene Kelly's light, but like I said...I felt I had to do SOMETHING, even if just to show myself that I had made the effort. So I started "Nascent Reaches", a piece that has nothing to do with Gene Kelly, other than his death inspiring its birth. Like all creative endeavors, it gradually took on a life of its own and evolved and shifted into its present state.

As a late blooming composer of wildly irregular output I have not gone through a myriad of phases to arrive at a state of blissful creative equipoise, where all things compositional have been revealed to me (as I imagine a "mature" composer to be). For all intents and purposes, I am still in my youthful phase, where I try things out, write music that speaks to me, and work to establish the individuality of my voice. Perhaps my student years made such an indelible mark on my psyche that I forever am guided to perceive my everyday life in student terms. It's a deep groove.



Nascent Reaches is difficult but not massively so. A competent professional violist should be able to learn the passages with some work. I think an advanced student, perhaps a Masters level student, would be able to come to grips with it also. It's 10 minutes long and is written to be played slightly amplified, to carry over the volume of the orchestra. There are many things happening in the orchestra part and it is critical that the viola be heard, as there are many sections mezzo forte and above that the viola would never be able to cut through otherwise.

Listen to the excerpt, download the full piece if youíre interested. It's probably better to download to your PC first (as opposed to listening to it online), then listen to it locally, so that it won't come across in a choppy manner, which can sometimes happen with streaming audio. Iím working on getting the kinks out of this playback so what you hear will only be a rough approximation of what I want. I will post improvements to the playback file as they occur.

This will give you the general idea; I find it very exciting even in this rough synthesized state. Of course I very much want to hear a live performance of it because a lot of things that you DONíT hear here (sic) (like cymbals, percussion, some string partsÖa whole bunch of stuff) will manifest. Plus overall human excitement can transform sound!



Let me know if it resonates with you. My life has revolved around this music for several years so it would help me to hear from anyone who is a listener and a "reflector of" the music listening experience.

A violist may hear it differently than a trumpet player, and a casual ear will hear different things than a trained ear. I would like to hear from anyone who enjoys listening to music. I love the piece and am proud of it. I have been practicing it as well and love playing it and listening to it. If any violist is up to learning the part, then taping it, I would be more than happy to post your performance of it on this web site (I would be happy to provide a playback file with just the orchestra playing). Both as an audio file and, if you're feeling ambitious, a video file. If you have any trouble downloading the viola part, let me know and Iíll send it to you.

Clifford S. Young

Esperanto Street Songs is a collection of poetry I wrote in the Ď80s that for some reason has had a touchstone effect on me. I will post poems from it from time to time. Check back.