The Gentleman Rests

The Gentleman Rests by Dave Ruder

last performances were Thur 10/27/16 to Sat 10/29/16, all at 8pm
Tickets are $18 and available through JACK

Media from original performance in March 2015:

In The Gentleman Rests, composer Dave Ruder (thingNY, Varispeed) sets transcripts of a 2001 special session of Congress to music the ironic drama of Al Gore (as President of the Senate) following congressional protocol and gaveling over a series of objections from Congressional Black Caucus members, hastening the end of his presidential ambitions.  After two months of post-election chaos in Florida in late 2000, this session was the final step declaring Bush the winner.  The Congressional Black Caucus repeatedly tried to raise objections about the results from Florida, citing widespread disenfranchisement and irregularities (that, as usual in the history of US voting, impacted African-Americans hardest), and each objection was turned away because no senator would second them.

This piece, scored for five vocalists, viola, trombone, Rhodes piano and bassoon, will receive three performances, Thurs 10/27 to Sat 10/29 at JACK in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, just days before the seemingly endless 2016 presidential election cycle concludes (unless the world is forced to live through the drama of another drawn out aftermath as was the case 16 years ago).  The Gentleman Rests in part serves as a reminder that despite the outrage and confusion over the outcome of an election in which the candidate who won the popular vote lost the presidency, in which the Supreme Court and the brother of one of the candidates somehow played a role, and in which one candidate presided over the joint session of congress that finally coronated his rival, precious little has changed in the machinery of major US elections.  By foregrounding the Congressional Black Caucus’s efforts to call attention to disenfranchisement in Florida, the piece also calls attention to constant efforts over the history of the US to keep African-Americans from voting, and how the past 16 years have seen increased opportunity for such discrimination via the gutting of the Voting Rights Act.

In composing The Gentleman Rests, Ruder drew on his extensive experience as a performer and arranger of the work of Robert Ashley, Anthony Braxton,  Kenneth Gaburo, and other contemporary opera composers who utilize a spectrum of spoken-to-sung vocalizations.  The libretto is drawn directly from the transcript of the joint session, mixing the beautifully arcane procedural, parliamentary language of election certificates with the ardent pleas of Representatives, and maintaining the original hesitations, ums, and self-corrections of the speakers.  Throughout the piece, the five vocalists alternate roles, so there is no single voice identified as Gore’s voice or as the various voices of the CBC.  Rather, Gore’s lines are delivered in a unified fast-paced style, indicating his interest in moving through the certification process speedily.  The CBC vocalizes in a range of styles that build to more florid, melodious, full-voiced singing.  Bookending the piece are breathlessly fast readings of the election certificates of other states, getting back to the normally mundane process of formal certification.

The Gentleman Rests was commissioned by Roulette with funds from the Jerome Foundation and written in 2014.  It was performed at Roulette in March 2015 and has been revised to its current form.  Excerpts from the 2015 performance are above.

Composed by Dave Ruder
Performed by vocalists Michele Kennedy, Amirtha Kidambi, Kyra Sims, Gabrielle Davenport and Brian McCorkle, Sam Morrison (Rhodes), Jen Baker (trombone), Nisreen Nor (bassoon) and Karen Waltuch (viola)

Sound by Gus Callahan
Light design by Tuce Yasak

Dave Ruder (composer) is a Brooklyn-based vocalist, clarinetist, guitarist, electronicist, composer, songwriter, writer/librettist, interdisciplinary collaborator, etc. Dave is a key member of the groups Varispeed, thingNY, and Reps. Since 2013, Dave has been the driving force behind Gold Bolus Recordings, where you can find a number of his albums. As a composer, Dave received a commission from the Jerome Foundation and Roulette in 2014. Additionally, his work has been featured in Experiments in Opera, and his WHY LIE? project, 100+ open scores, is available online. By day, Dave works for the Make Music Alliance/Make Music NY.