Music by Paul Crabtree
Words by Emmeline Stuart-Wortley/Ave Maria
© Yelton Rhodes Music YR2C14
Before graduating from the Music Faculty at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and the Musikhochschule in Cologne, Germany, Paul Crabtree was the keyboard player in a catastrophically unsuccessful garage band called Goats’ Opera. He grew up with an equal interest in rock culture and classical music, but was disappointed that his academic training never acknowledged the world of rock and pop, and transplanted to California in his early 20s.
Exposure to the musically permissive culture in the Bay Area led him to integrate the various strands of his personal history, to embrace and intermingle ideas as diverse as Latin poetry and 1960s girl groups;
* Glenn Miller is Missing sets Emma Lazarus’ poetry (about the ecstasies of music) as a jitterbug.
* Five Romantic Miniatures (from The Simpsons) bring cartoon sentiments into the concert hall.
* Annunciata combines the wiltingly love-lorn Victorian poetry of Emmeline Stuart-Wortley with Gabriel’s message to the Virgin.
Crabtree also uses objets trouves both alone and alongside standard texts;
* Three Letters to My Father use the texts of enigmatic hand-written notes which he found among family papers.
* Pax et Bonum is a response to the sudden death of a young tenor friend, whose last letter is quoted ironically alongside a Shakespeare sonnet on immortality.
* When Are We Leaving? intermingles a similar sonnet with some of Iris Murdoch’s final ramblings as she was falling victim to Alzheimer’s disease.
His most ambitious work is The Museum Guard, a one-hour chamber opera for performance in art museums, based on the novel by Howard Norman.