"Seven Sevens," it became clear that the little niche I had carved for
myself in The Genesis Cycles had run its course, landing
me squarely amid the confusions of postmodernism. One critic said of "Seven
Sevens," "its a postmodern opera that incorporates not only classical
composition but also any number of popular forms from gospel to tangos
to country and western. And it does so not self-consciously but organically
and fluidly, to capture the appropriate emotional essences and dramatic
necessities of the text." It could also be said that the piece is representative
of a widespread contemporary stylistic crisis one in which pastiches
full of recycled materials seem particularly apt and are much in vogue.
compositional experiences, combined with my work at the Minnesota Center
for Arts Education (popularly known as the Minnesota Arts High School),
where I have been teaching composition and interdisciplinary studies to
teenage artists since 1990, yielded the next wave of artistic revelation.
The fresh, untamed, freely experimental, all-encompassing activity of these
young artists has had a liberating, transfiguring effect on my own artistic
outlook and vision. Much of the eclectic intermingling of styles characteristic
of "Seven Sevens" and such other works of this period as "O Viridissima
Virga" (1992; for SATB choir and percussion, on a text by Hildegard), which
combines Renaissance-style contrapuntal shapes with patterned hand drumming
techniques, is directly attributable to what I would term the "postmodern
idealism" of these seemingly fearless young artists.
39, I experienced a rebirth of something resembling adolescence, which
became manifest as a desire for change, growth, intensity, spiritual rejuvenation,
clarity of purpose, and, most of all, as a need to connect more deeply
with others other artists, other cultures, other perspectives and ways
of thinking. "Seven Sevens," which occupied me intermittently between 1986
and 1993, became a key transitional work, ushering in my third (and current)
stylistic phase. The full production of the opera, at the Southern Theatre
in Minneapolis, was a cathartic event, in which I felt the distinctions
between art and life collapsing exultantly.