The Alchemist in the City is a single movement piece written for baritone and chamber ensemble. The piece sets the poetry of Gerard Manly Hopkins and depicts an alchemist who has reached the end of his life, and is lamenting the reality that he has failed to accomplish the two primary goals of alchemy; to turn metals into gold, and to create an elixir of immortality. Within this lament he also reflects on the modernization of the city around him, where he sees that alchemy no longer has a place. With this understanding, the Alchemist cannot decide whether to blame the city and modernization for turning him into this anachronism, or the pursuit of alchemy itself for leading him down a path destined for defeat.
I see the journey of the alchemist as a cautionary tale. A character that seems to be unable to adapt to a changing world. His bitterness towards modernization and the trade of alchemy shields himself from seeing his own agency as a solution to his unhappiness. In an ever-changing world it is critical that we ask how we position ourselves within it. This requires introspection, and the openness to change. If we fail to do so, the world will leave us behind as it did the alchemist’s of old.
Erin Baker, Harp
Nicholas Bentz, Violin I
Maitreyi Muralidharan, Violin II Jonathan Milord, Viola
Jerram John, Cello
Alan Buxbaum, Conductor
Christopher J. Hartung, Baritone
Gyuri Kim, Flute
Eric Black, Clarinet
Taylor Davis, Percussion
Copyright © Steven Crino. All rights reserved.