Tuesday, November 06, 2012
I hear those voices that will not be drowned
In October 1904 a flash flood swept through the town of Ain Sefra on the Algerian-Moroccan border drowning Isabelle Eberhardt. In the photo below a body reported to be Isabelle’s is carried from the rubble (see footnote about provenance of photo). Cultural explorer, Sufi adept and libertine Isabelle Eberhardt - who was profiled here last year - has fascinated and inspired many people including someone described as “one of the new wave of scarily smart composers”. Missy Mazzoli’s opera Song from the Uproar: the Lives and Deaths of Isabelle Eberhardt premiered in New York earlier this year and is still scheduled for release on New Amsterdam Records this month despite the devastation to the company's New York headquarters seen in the accompanying photos.
When I reported here a few days ago that my review copy of Song from the Uproar had been delayed by Hurricane Sandy I was unaware of the extent of the damage suffered by New Amsterdam Records. But now the label’s tireless publicist Jill Strominger has filled me in on the terrible impact. The label’s newly created multi-purpose music venue, offices, rehearsal and residency space has been seriously damaged, financial records lost, and CD stock and valuable musical instruments destroyed. The heart-breaking story is here together with details of how you can help the beleaguered label. In the second act of another storm tossed opera Peter Grimes sings “I hear those voices that will not be drowned”. Such is the power of music that, despite the flash flood in 1904 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012, I know the voices of New Amsterdam Records and Isabelle Eberhardt will not be drowned.
* Isabelle Eberhardt’s biographer Annette Kobak qualifies the archive photograph as follows - "the authenticity is doubtful, since the army was in charge of the operation, but it was published in the original version of her diaries".
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