Dante Francomano: Cetacean Citations

Dante Francomano, wrote Cetacean Citations, a contemporary concert piece that was premiered on board the Morgan on June 12, 2015. Francomano was joined by Patrick Francomano, voice; Erik Anundson, soprano saxophone; Ben Porter, alto saxophone; Tyler Appel, tenor saxophone; Zach Robarge, baritone saxophone; Brian Marland, trombone; Lucas Avidan, trombone; Max Schneider, bass trombone; Andrew Armstrong, percussion; and Tim Noonan, percussion.

In introducing the score, Francomano writes:

As one of the lucky individuals chosen to sail aboard the Charles W. Morgan as one of her “38th Voyagers,” I took on the challenge of composing a musical work inspired by the soundscapes of whales and whaling. Cetacean Citations is the piece that came about as a result of dedicated listening, reading, and musical exploration.

This piece attempts to address the four themes of the Morgan’s 38th Voyage. “Changing perceptions of whales and the natural world” are documented through significant quotations that marked important historical themes or moments. These quotes also evoke the “impact [of whales and whaling] on American culture.” Dramatic or grandiose musical passages are intended to reflect the “perils and profits of commercial whaling.” Culturally and geographically diverse musical influences pay homage to “whaling as a cultural crossroads.”

I aspired to make Cetacean Citations a somewhat somber commentary on the above four themes, but it simultaneously has moments of beauty, levity, and humor. It is a piece to be contemplated and enjoyed aboard the Morgan on a calm, pleasant evening.


An update from Dante Francomano, June 11, 2016:

I gave a presentation on Cetacean Citations last summer at a workshop of the Global Sustainable Soundscapes Network. After playing some excerpts, a few were interested in hearing more, so I directed them to the full video online. One guy, a seabird researcher from UC Santa Cruz, was especially interested, as he goes on annual research cruises to the Antarctic, and the researchers can play music speakers located throughout the ship. He was interested in playing the piece on the cruise, so I gave him an offline copy. Long story short, I ran into him again at the Ecoacoustics Congress last week, and found out that the piece was indeed played on the voyage.