'Cabaret of Souls'
6/12/2009 (updated 9/17/2012)

This from recent Q&A session:

Re: Cabaret of Souls
Richard, So how did it go? Bruce Young, Santa Cruz

I think, on the whole, it went extremely well, for a one-off performance. Listening to the recording, some of the vocals are a little out of tune, and there are few places where we don't all synch up, but on the whole, amazing job. Peter Askim was extraordinary, and pulled a fantastic performance from the strings. Pete Zorn did such a good job, on 2 rehearsals. Judith sang her songs with such empathy, and Harry was the pivot of the whole show. Debra was note-perfect on vocals and percussion. I hope we can get the clearances to release this show, otherwise we'll re-record it at a later date. As composer it was wonderful to hear it all put together!

'Cabaret of Souls' program.pdf

Cabaret of Souls
A song cycle featuring the double bass playing of Danny Thompson

I was delighted, when approached by the ISB to write a piece featuring the double bass, to have the opportunity to create something that showcases the many virtues of my great friend, Danny Thompson. For me, Danny is THE bass player, my favourite exponent of the instrument. Yes, yes, I know others may have more chops, or may be the great specialists in their fields, but no one has the versatility, the tone, the attack, the sheer attitude, of our Dan. My wife, who has but a slight acquaintance with the autoharp, can recognize Danny's playing within a bar and a half on a Nick Drake record, so distinctive is his sound. He's played with everyone, and done everything better than anyone else, and I'm proud to know him. We hope our piece will show him as a superb soloist and accompanist.

The ISB was probably hoping I would come up with something about ten minutes long, but it seems to have grown into a monster, and I'm not sure what kind of monster it is. Hopefully, it is in its own genre, because it fails to be an opera, a musical, a musical play, a play with music, a song cycle, or a bass concerto. There is a lot of bass featured, a lot of songs, and some dark humour, we hope. If Chaucer was a bass player, and he wrote the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, but then failed to write the Canterbury Tales themselves, it might be something like this.

My deepest thanks to Madeleine Crouch, and Peter Askim, for their guidance and enthusiasm, and to all the musicians taking part. --Richard Thompson

Pop & Hiss - The L.A. Times music blog
Richard Thompson's 'Cabaret of Souls' premieres -- will it ever be heard from again?

Please note:
- The performance took place at the State Theater, State College, PA. as part of the ISB event, hosted by Penn State University.
- In addition to the participants mentioned, the performance featured a 10-piece string ensemble conducted by Peter Askim, playing Richard's string arrangements.
- Richard hopes to release the performance at some point in the future, if the necessary arrangements can be made.

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