7 to 8:00 pm ET

Americas Society
680 Park Avenue
New York

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Alyssa Regent

Alyssa Regent. (Image courtesy of Yarn/Wire)

Alyssa Regent: "Mors osculi" Premiere

We premiere the Guadeloupean composer's new work, commissioned by Americas Society.

7 to 8:00 pm ET

Americas Society
680 Park Avenue
New York

Share

Alyssa Regent

Alyssa Regent. (Image courtesy of Yarn/Wire)

Overview

On February 29, we will host this concert in person, and tickets are free. 

Registration for this event is now CLOSED but walk-ins are welcome as seats are still available.

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Video of the concert will be released at a later date. Remember to follow us to watch this and other exciting performances.  

Alyssa Regent was born in Guadeloupe and is currently based in New York. She studied composition with Suzanne Farrin and David Fulmer at Hunter College and with Marcos Balter and George Lewis at Columbia University, where she is currently pursuing a DMA in composition. She is inspired by what she calls “the unseen”, seeking to evoke passions and sensations that are deeply rooted in introspection. She loves to think about music as an exploration of the spiritual and emotional dimensions of the human experience.

Her new song cycle, Mors osculi, for soprano and ensemble, was commissioned by Americas Society. 

Program

Alyssa Regent: Mors osculi (2024), for soprano, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, bass, percussion, harp, guitar, and electronics. 

I. Introduction 
II. “Fort contre les fors paroitre” (tr: Stronger among the strong) 
III. “Du corps l’ame sutile part” (tr: Body and soul) 
IV. “O longs desirs” (tr: Long felt desires) 
V. ----- interlude “The erotic as power” by Audre Lorde ----- 
VI. “Beau yeux bruns” (tr: “O handsome brown eyes”) 
VII. “Je vis, je meurs” (tr: “I live, I die) 
VIII. “Baise m’encor, rebaise moy et baise” (tr: “Kiss me, kiss me again, and then kiss;”)

Performers:
Charlotte Mundy: voice
Yoshi Weinberg: flute
Madison Greenstone: clarinet
Russell Greenberg: percussion
Alec Goldfarb: guitar
Kathryn Sloat: harp
Pala Garcia: violin
Thea Mesirow: cello
Tristan Kasten Krause: double bass
Yanqi Chen: electronics  

This concert is part of the 2024 Composers Now Festival

Program Notes

Mors Osculi is a song cycle based on six sonnets by Louise Labé:

I. Introduction
II. "Fort contre les fors paroitre" (tr. "Stronger among the strong")
III. "De corps l'ame sutile part" (tr. "Body and soul")
IV. "O longs desirs" (tr. "Longs felt desires")
V. -----interlude "The erotic as power" by Audre Lorde-----
VI. “Beau yeux bruns" (tr: “O, handsome brown eyes") 
VII. “Je vis, je meurs" (tr: “I live, I die") 
VIII. “Baise m’encor, rebaise moy et baise” (tr: “Kiss me, kiss me again, and then kiss;”) 

“Mors osculi” is an Old Testament doctrine associating death with a kiss. It also implies deliverance from death through the carnal act. The term is translated to “the death kiss” and has become a known poetic motif used throughout the Renaissance in Europe. I approach this theme through the stanza in sonnet XIII:

“Lors que souef plus il me baiseroit,
Et mon esprit sur ses lèvres fuiroit, 
bien je mourrois, plus que vivante, eureuse.”
 
[Tr: “If he thirsted to kiss me instead, 
so that on his lips my spirit fled, 
I’d rather die, more than alive, joyful.”]

The idea for the song cycle aligns with my musical exploration of human emotions, emphasizing my return to the concept of music moving “the passions,” or more commonly known as the Doctrine of the Affections, which emerged in the Baroque era. However, instead of focusing on how music moves the emotion, I explore how femininity and the power of the erotic, as explained by Audre Lorde, is the underlying authority when it comes to embodying our emotions fully and acting with passion in a romantic and non-romantic context. In Mors Osculi, music is as much given as it is received, with passion and eroticism.

*** Sonnets (English translation by A. S. Kline with modifications by the composer). 

1. Introduction 

2. Stronger among the strong 

Depuis qu’Amour cruel empoisonna de son feu ma poitrine Ever since cruel Love first poisoned my chest with its fire
Toujours brulait de son feu… toujours, toujours Always burnt with a sacred flame… always, always
De sa fureur divine empoisonna de son feu … Of His divine flame, poisoned…
Qu’un seul jour…mon cœur n’abandonna…  For one single day, my heart never lets me rest
Quelques menasse et prochaine ruine Whatever troubles, whatever approaching ruin or distress
Quelques pensées qui tout termine Whatever thoughts of death’s final conquest
De rien mon cœur n’étonna None of it could shake my heart’s desire free
Tant plus qu’Amour vient assaillir  The more Love assails us
Cil qui les Dieus et les hommes méprise… He who scorns Gods, men, and pities them
Mais plus fort contre les fort paroitre. He’ll look stronger, among the strong.

3. Body and Soul 

Je vois mourir toute chose lors que du corps l’âme part I see perish everything when the soul leaves the body
Je suis le corps…toi…la meilleure part I’m the body, and you are the best part
Ne me laissez pas longtemps pâmée, ne me laissez pas… ne me laisse pas… ne me laisse pas. I need you now, don’t leave me… don’t leave me… don’t leave…
Où es-tu donc…. mon amour… mon âme Where are you now, my Love, my soul
Mon amour…  My love…
Rends-lui sa part et sa moitié  Don’t be too hard on me
Toi, toi, toi…  You, you, you…

4. Long Felt Desires 

Ô longs désirs, ô espérances vaines Long-felt desires, hopes as long as vain
Tristes soupirs et larmes coutumières  Sad sighs, tears accustomed to run sad
A engendrer de moi maintes rivières Into many as many rivers as two eyes can hold
Dont mes deux yeux sont sources et fontaines  Pouring like fountains, endless as the rain
Ô cruauté, ô duretés inhumaines  Cruelty beyond humanity
Du cœur transi o passions premières  A shattered heart, the first passion I’ve had
Estimez-vous croitre encore mes peines ? Could Love root in my soul again?

INTERLUDE : The power of the erotic – Audre Lorde 

5. Handsome Brown Eyes 

Ô beaux yeux bruns, ô regards détournés, ô chauds soupirs, ô larmes dépendues, vainement attendues… Oh handsome brown eyes, oh eyes that turn away, oh tears that stretch so far, waited on in vain
Jours luisants ! Jours vainement retourné, triste plein, désirs obstinez Luminous days ! Vainly returning days, sad complaints, love’s stubborn play
Ô temps perdu, ô peines dépendues Oh lost hours, oh wasted pain and war
Tant de flambeau pour ardre une femelle ! Tant de flambeaux, tant… tant… tant… tant … !  So many flames to engulf one woman ! So many…
De toi me pleins… tant de feu portant, en tant d’endroit d’iceus… I despair of you, you carry so many fires, to touch my secret places and desires
Mon cœur tâtant… n’en est sur toi volé quelques étincelles…  And my beating heart… yet not one spark flies back to you, to make you love me.

6. I live I Die 

Je vis, je meurs (I live, I die
J’ai chaud estreme en endurant froidure I’m hot yet all I feel is cold
La vie m’est et trop molle et trop dure  Life is too soft and too hard for me to hold
J’ai grand ennui entremêler de joie. My joy and my heavy burden are mixed in one.
Je ris et je larmoie I weep and I frown
En plaisir maint grief, tourment j’en dure  The tarnish of grief has marred my pleasure’s gold
Mon bien s’en va et a jamais il dure My good flies away yet stays forever old
Je seiche et je verdoie I wither as soon as I’ve grown
Ainsi amour inconstamment me mène.  This is how Love guides me so changeably
Et quand je pense n’avoir plus de douleur When I think the pain has defeated me
Je crois ma joie être certaine au haut de mon désirée heure  Just as I trust joy so certainly
Il me remet en mon premier malheur. He brings me back to my agony again.

7. Kiss me Again 

Baise m’encors, m’encors… rebaise… rebaise… rebaise moi… Kiss me again, again, rekiss… rekiss... rekiss me/make love to me
Jouissons d’un de l’autre, l’un de l’autre, l’un de … l’autre… Both sweetly bent on each other, with one another, one…another…
Las…. The plains tu ? Ça que je ce mal j’apaise… donne m’en un de tes plus savoureux Do I hear you moaning? This is my plan to soothe you… kiss me with your most succulent kiss
Donne m’en un de tes plus amoureux… Adore me with another loving kiss
En t’en donnant dix autres doucereux… je t’en rendrais quatre plus chaud que braise.  Meant to steam out fourfold the very hottest hiss, from my love-hot coals.
Funders

The MetLife Foundation Music of the Americas concert series is made possible by the generous support of Presenting Sponsor MetLife Foundation. 

The Spring 2024 Music program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, by the Howard Gilman Foundation, by the Arthur F. and Alice E. Adams Charitable Foundation, by the Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, by the Augustine Foundation, and by the Mex-Am Cultural Foundation.

The commission of Mors osculi is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

Additional support for new music concerts comes from the Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, and The Amphion Foundation.