Michael Roth | Their Thought and Back Again

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Charles Ives Elvis Costello Randy Newman

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also by Michael Roth: 12TH NIGHT - Music from the Stratford Shakespeare Festival Production MySpace Tradebit GreatIndieMusic PayPlay Apple iTunes

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United States - California - LA

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Classical: Contemporary Classical: Opera Moods: Type: Experimental
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Their Thought and Back Again

by Michael Roth

New Music/Theatre Opera - the kind of collection of songs that Charles Ives might have composed had he lived long enough to encounter rock-and-roll and beat poetry.
Genre: Classical: Contemporary
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. In Fourteen Hundred Ninety You
5:37 $0.99
2. Seeking a Woman to Bird Dream Car
7:12 $0.99
3. Interlude
0:48 $0.99
4. Arthur Awoke to the Present Day
4:50 $0.99
5. Interlude
1:39 $0.99
6. Their Thought and Back Again
11:48 $0.99
7. Interlude
2:15 $0.99
8. Do the Dance of Television
4:21 $0.99
9. Zero
2:04 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Michael Roth is a composer, music director, orchestrator, pianist, and sound designer whose work has been described as music “one could imagine Charles Ives composing had he lived long enough to encounter rock-and-roll and beat poetry.” Having graduated cum laude from the University of Michigan, where he studied composition with William Bolcom, he has been an active professional for over 35 years, creating a body of work that encompasses chamber music, new and experimental opera and music/theatre, music for dance, music for film, and especially music and sound for theatre, having composed the music for over 250 productions at major theatres throughout North America, including Broadway, off-Broadway, the Stratford Festival in Canada, and as a resident artist and composer at both South Coast Repertory and La Jolla Playhouse in California.

Michael is also known for his many collaborations with composer Randy Newman, as a music director, orchestrator, arranger, and pianist, including musical direction for THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG (Disney Animated Features), HARPS & ANGELS (Center Theatre Group), THE EDUCATION OF RANDY NEWMAN (Act Theatre, Seattle; SCR), FAUST (La Jolla Playhouse, Goodman Theatre), and editing five definitive songbook anthologies for Alfred Music Publishing.
Michael was proud to be a 2011 fellow at the prestigious Sundance Institute Composers/Documentary Lab; recent projects, productions, and works-in-progress include:

A WORD OR TWO (2012) – score for a solo performance piece by Christopher Plummer (Stratford Shakespeare Festival).

HENRY V (2012) – score for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival production, Des McAnuff, director.

TWELFTH NIGHT (2011-12) – composed (with Des McAnuff) the songs and score for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival production, featuring Brian Dennehy; CD available through iTunes and CDbaby, filmed for theatrical release and broadcast on Bravo.

THE TEMPEST (2010-11) – composed the score for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival production featuring Christopher Plummer, also filmed for theatrical release and broadcast on Bravo, Des McAnuff, director.

IMAGINATION DEAD IMAGINE (work-in-progress) – setting/treatment of Samuel Beckett’s text, for recorded voices and string quartet, supported by a Subito grant from the American Composer’s Forum, to be premiered by the Eclipse Quartet, 2013.

JEWS AND BASEBALL (2010-11) – composed music for the documentary by Peter Miller, narrated by Dustin Hoffman, featuring Sandy Koufax, theatrical release in 2010, broadcast on PBS in 2011-12.

STREICH (1988-2009) – chamber rag for flute, violin, viola, and cello; winner, first American Composers Forum/LA competition.

KYRIE-MERCY-ANA M (2007) - eight-part motet for a capella choir, premiered at the American Composers Forum/LA salon, January, 2007; from LANDSCAPE THE TAR ROOF TREE, work-in-progress music/theatre collaboration with Alice Ripley.

THE PERSIANS (2003-06) – music/sound score for percussion, cello, singers; premiere of Ellen McLaughlin’s adaptation of Aeschylus’ play, Tony Randall, producer (National Actors Theatre/New York; Shakespeare Theatre, DC-Helen Hayes Award nominee).

TO SPITE YOUR FACE (2010) - chamber piece for solo tuba and multilayered live sampling.

Other recent work: composed scores for independent features TERMITE (Hollywood Reel Independent Festival winner) and YOUR NAME HERE (with Bill Pullman); collaborating with Daniel Sullivan and Donald Margulies on the world premieres of BROOKLYN BOY (Broadway) and DINNER WITH FRIENDS (Pulitzer Prize, off-Broadway); composed music for A WALK IN THE WOODS (Broadway) and PEOPLE BE HEARD, TALKING HEADS, SIGHT UNSEEN, SABINA, GOING TO ST. IVES (off-Broadway); collaborating with Tom Stoppard on the American premieres of INDIAN INK and INVENTION OF LOVE; collaborating with MacArthur Fellow Sarah Ruhl on the west coast premiere of MELANCHOLY PLAY (also produced in Seattle, Texas, New York, and Massachusetts); many collaborations with Mac Wellman including their music/theatre piece THE ALLEGORY OF WHITENESS (Humana Festival, 2001) and the Obie-award winning premieres of BAD PENNY, TERMINAL HIP, and BITTER BIERCE; as a resident artist/composer at La Jolla Playhouse (over 35 productions) and South Coast Repertory (over 50 productions), many credits including THE BIRDS (music/theatre with Culture Clash, also at Berkeley Repertory Theatre and the Getty Villa), many world premieres by Lee Blessing, and the world premieres of Margaret Edson’s WIT (Pulitzer Prize), Noah Haidle’s MR. MARMALADE, and Steven Drukman’s THE PRINCE OF ATLANTIS; for the UCLA Center for International Medicine and the UN, composing the music and sound for DVDs on landmine safety, combat casualty care, sexual assault, and family planning; additional collaborations with, among others, Anne Bogart, Erik Ehn, Mark Lamos, James Lapine, Ethan McSweeny, Carey Perloff, John Rando, and Peter Sellars; and as a pianist, accompanying singers from Marni Nixon to Alicia Keyes. Michael's work, including the CD of his opera THEIR THOUGHT & BACK AGAIN, is available via CDBaby and i-tunes.



to write a review

from Stephen Nunns - American Theatre Magazine

A Composer Cuts Up
Stephen Nunns/American Theatre Magazine

Michael Roth's THEIR THOUGHT AND BACK AGAIN is an unapologetically eclectic “opera” that conveys wildly disparate elements, from contemporary pop to Anglican hymnals to Erik Satie. In an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink manner, Roth has created a song cycle that is fresh, ironic, and completely American.

Roth, who has been the resident composer at La Jolla Playhouse since 1983 and is currently a resident artist at South Coast Repertory, is California's busiest theatrical composer and sound designer. His list of composing credits is impressive, encompassing everything from Culture Clash's THE BIRDS to Lee Blessing's A WALK IN THE WOODS. This collection of songs-which is really what it is, rather than a traditional opera-began as a collaboration between Roth and choreographer John Malashock that started in 1992. Malashock was fascinated with the idea of singers performing with his company of dancers, and slowly the composer came up with the idea of creating what he calls “formal pop songs” for two singers and a small group of musicians (in the case of this CD, the Elan Ensemble String Quartet) that the dancers could “respond to.”

Heavily influenced by the William S. Burroughs’s cut and paste writing technique, Roth and Malashock took scissors to magazines, instruction manuals and newspapers personal ads to come up with a Dada-esque libretto consisting of lines like “Rigid babies are an intricate device/The surface information should be rigid/button should be lit,” and “Seeking a woman to bird dream car/hold respect and body new.”

If that seems loopy, it needs to be taken into context with Roth's lovely score, which delivers on a wild roller-coaster sampler of Americana. One piece (“Do the Dance of Television”) sounds like classic Leonard Bernstein put through a Cuisinart. Meanwhile, the opening piece, “In Fourteen Hundred Ninety You (Took Him to the River),” digs deep into our collective memory and simultaneously conjures show tunes, John Cage, the Talking Heads and British folk music.

And then there's the aforementioned “Seeking a Woman to Bird Dream Car,” which is one of those rare gems-a pure pop song that is also a gorgeous piece of art music. (On this cut special kudos are due the lovely Roxane Carrasco, who manages to imbue a Motown soulfulness to lines like “One college educate white dark hair/seeks fireplaces resort like bear.”)

For an opera there's little narrative to follow (in his liner notes Roth claims that he and Malashock were influenced by the 1953 Bernstein, Comden and Green musical Wonderful Town, but you could sure fool me). Still, THEIR THOUGHT AND BACK AGAIN is the kind of collection of songs that one could imagine Charles Ives composing, had he lived long enough to encounter rock-and-roll and beat poetry. And just as Ives’s “The Housatonic at Stockbridge” or “The Things Our Fathers Loved” were direct-though admittedly off kilter-byproducts of the period they were composed in, Roth's songs are fleeting glimpses of America at the end of the 20th century: weird, intense, sentimental and, in spite of everything, rather beautiful. - (4/98)