Eighteen Million Six



In this final movement of cultural historian David Hajdu’s song cycle, The Parsonage, the music begins with a text setting of a recent property listing of 64 East 7th Street in New York City’s East Village. I imagine a showing of the property wherein a Sotheby’s realtor is walking a prospective buyer (the listener) through the building—only instead of the realtor telling us about the building, the building tells us about herself (with occasional comments from the realtor).The building is full of fierce pride for all stages of her life: at this moment in time, it’s the way she has been “gutted for modern use,” with “nothing overlooked.” She muses on her renovations with gentle, wistful reflection. But when the realtor neglects to mention the building’s astonishing participation in twentieth-century New York history, she feels compelled to set the record straight.

 The piece was commissioned by David Hajdu, who also wrote the text, for vocalists Theo Bleckmann and Alicia Olatuja, and pianist Dan Tepfer.

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