DIARY OF AN ALIEN
Premiere: Sonoklect Festival, Lexington, Va, January 28, 1994
Duration: 21 minutes
Instrumentation: Solo flute
*A Call For Action
*No Rotary Phone
*Somewhere the bells…
Diary of an Alien is a collection of thoughts, impressions and reactions in musical form. The performer can choose which movements to perform, like leafing through a diary and choosing the excerpts to read. The many meanings of the word, "alien" convey an ambiguity that is intriguing. This could be the diary of an alien from society, from another world, from another planet, the diary of someone who is alienated from modern day life . . .
A Call For Action is assertive and non-reflective, portraying the title in musical language.
Drifting through space, through thoughts, through time, through . . .. Drifting experiments with multiphonics (humming into the flute while playing) and playing the head joint of the flute.
Lament was written in early October 2001, three weeks after 9/11. It is the slow movement in a chamber work that is also called Lament. Later, I made this version of it for solo flute because I wanted to add it as an "entry" in the Diary. Lament is an attampt to express in some way the numbness, anguish, bewilderment, and despair felt in the aftermath of 9/11.
No Rotary Phone is a satirical musical monologue in which the performer portrays two people, a person making a telephone call and an answering electronic voice. Beginning with "dialed" touch-tone phone number pitches, the movement goes through a typical phone mail routine. The composer could not resist taking the opportunity to poke fun at public radio stations' incessant airing of Pachelbel's Canon when the caller is connected to a radio station while "on hold." The caller tries, earnestly at first, to listen to the Pachelbel, but becomes bored and distracted as well as increasingly frustrated by the imposed demands of this so practical and yet so dehumanizing one-way conversation.
Somewhere the bells.... While standing on a mountain side, bells are heard echoing from far away in another valley, like a memory from another time, another place, another life . . . Electronic echo alters the sound of the flute, overlapping pitches to form chords.
"The program’s most interesting piece was Margaret Brouwer’s "Diary of an Alien" for solo flute and–in one section–tape. A collection of movements to be played (or not) in any order, they employ a variety of techniques with imagination and humor and use the technology sensibly. One movement called on flutist Alice Weinreb to play just the mouth-piece, which proved to be an amazingly versatile instrument; another used a taped-delay echo to produce waves of overlapping lines; and a third, a mini-drama, had the flute and the flutist involved in negotiating the frustrations of voice mail." - Joan Reinthaler, Washington Post, February 20, 1996
"The most haunting aspect of Brouwer's "Diary of an Alien" comes in the final movement, in which the solo flute's lines are echoed electronically to evoke bells. Every moment in this serene work reveals the gifts of a composer whose music blends superb craftsmanship with a poetic sensibility." - Donald Rosenberg, The Plain Dealer, 2001
"Brouwer's 'Diary of an Alien' for solo flute not only showed Weinreb's considerable artistry to advantage, it also allowed her to demonstrate a flair for comedy during one of the work's movements, 'No Rotary Phone,' in which Brouwer hilariously sums up everyone's frustrations with voice mail." - Judy Gruber, The Washington Post, June 1995