Gorilla in a Cage is dedicated to the composer's aunt Edna Freedman who died
of ovarian cancer at the time of the work's inception.
The title comes from a
psychic's remarks about the same aunt two years before her death. She said,
''All I see is the image of a gorilla in a cage. She's fighting like mad.
She's relentless as hell. She's not going to make it.'' It is, however,
decidedly not a requiem.
The 25 minute work opens with the soloist singing a capella. At the work's
end, she ascends a platform to sing as she plays the bass chimes. This use of
the voice acts as a bridge to the composer's operas. Unusual instruments like
the Batonka - a two-octave set of tuned PVC tubes played with a foam slapper
- are featured alongside more traditional mallet instruments and drums.
Throughout, instruments usually associated with melody play drum-like
figures, and the drums are used for their melodic possibilities.
While the soloist's part remains largely unchanged, the orchestra is replaced
by two pianos and one percussionist. What was a virtuosic concerto now becomes a true ensemble work. What's lost in instrumental color and heft is
made up for in relentless singularity.