The Bus Driver Didn't Change His Mind
About this work:
One of many emotions that has come up for me post 9/11 is an intense form of feminist rage, something I feel quite uncomfortable about, if I can be honest, having always thought myself quite beyond all that. But when I got this Bang on a Can commission, the first thing I thought of was this poem by the Bangladeshi troublemaker Taslima Nasrin. (She had a fatwa issued against her in the mid-90's and seems to have pretty much disappeared from public life.) Originally I was going to set it in the piece, but I decided not to.
The harmonic language is mostly built of diminished seventh chords, in reference to that cool climax in the first movement of Mahler's Second, which I was listening to because I'd been hanging out with Berio's Sinfonia because of the "keep going" connection between the Beckett/Berio and the Nasrin text.
The pre-recorded material is constructed solely from samples of the pipa, a Chinese instrument that is conventionally played by cultivated young ladies performing elevated music for the delectation of the upper classes.
The title of the piece comes from something I read yesterday in a profile of the American troublemaker Al Sharpton in this week's (2/18-25/02) New Yorker:
"The bus driver didn't change his mind, Rosa Parks changed hers."
For more information, please visit http://www.evbvd.com/busdriver/index.html
Year composed: 2002
Ensemble type: Chamber or Jazz Ensemble, Without Voice:Other Combinations, 6-9 players
Instrumentation: 1 Clarinet, 1 Percussion (General), 1 Piano, 1 Cello, 1 Double bass, 1 Guitar (Classical/Acoustic)
Instrumentation notes: all instruments are amplified; additional CD playback; players (except cl) also optionally sing at the end