Indian Parrot And Other Stories: Music of W.A. Mathieu

The Music of W. A. Mathieu

A Parrot, Three Fish, and a Donkey for three singers and small ensemble; Gourd Music for piano solo; The Blind Beekeeper for baritone and piano Thomas Buckner, baritone; Joseph Kubera, piano; Devi Mathieu, soprano; Suzanne Elder-Wallace, alto; Bob Afifi, alto flute; Shira Kammen, viola; Daniel Kennedy, frame drums (Mutable 17524-2)

Mutable Music is pleased to announce this latest release by William Allaudin Mathieu, pianist, composer, teacher, recording artist, and author. A Parrot, Three Fish, and a Donkey is a modern piece with a medieval text, and medieval sensibilities have worked their way into the musical fabric: the small percussion instruments, the instrumental range lying (for the most part) within the range of the human voice, and, most of all, the harmony, which is a kind of modulating modality. Inspired by the universality of Rumi¹s poems, Mathieu felt especially free in this piece to borrow from many centuries of Eastern and Western harmonic practice.

Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore's The Blind Beekeeper is a wonderful poem. It asks the soloist-narrator to simultaneously play so many roles. His first line is spoken: "I'd like to make a movie called The Blind BeekeeperŠ" and from then on he is above all a movie pitch-man -- and we are producer-angels deciding if we are going to invest in this guy's nutty movie. But he is also telling a dramatic and compelling story, empathizing with a diverse array of characters. And, since (at least in live performance) he will lead an audience of angels in transformative acts of bee-participation, he becomes our conductor as well. Finally, of course, he's a concert baritone giving a performance of a contemporary art song, a circumstance true even for the most post modern of us.

The piece is divided along the lines of a standard three-reeler: In the expository first reel (parts 1 and 2 of the text), we see Henry's history and very special talent; then we are inside the hive, and meet the bee protagonists. The second reel (part 3) is all action and adventure: the lover-bees get into serious trouble. The third reel (parts 4 and 5) is the triumphal rescue and final celebration. By the end we have seen a bee-movie about very small events as well as very large ones. Like a good children's story, it is at the same time a slightly silly tale and a noble miracle play.

Mathieu has composed a variety of chamber and choral works and made numerous solo piano recordings. He has written three books on music, The Listening Book and The Musical Life, published by Shambhala, and Harmonic Experience: Tonal Harmony from Its Natural Origins to Its Modern Expression, published by Inner Traditions. Allaudin was a disciple of North Indian vocalist Pandit Pran Nath for 25 years. He studied African music with Nubian musician Hamza El Din, jazz with William Russo, and European classical music with Easley Blackwood. In the 1960s, Allaudin spent several years as an arranger/composer for Stan Kenton and Duke Ellington, was the musical director for the Second City Theater in Chicago (which he helped found) and the Committee Theater in San Francisco. In the 1970s, he served on the faculties of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Mills College. In 1969 he founded the Sufi Choir, which he directed until 1982. The last two decades have been devoted to composition, performance, and teaching from his home in Sebastopol, California.