Scraps from a Madman's Diary, Scenes 1 and 3 for Two Horns and Piano by Catherine Likhuta
The original version of Scraps from a Madman’s Diary (2016) is a 36-minute oratorio-drama for mixed choir and wind symphony, in 13 scenes. It was commissioned by Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, with consortium support from the University of Georgia and Sydney Conservatorium. Written in the format of a personal diary, the piece depicts a person’s fall into insanity, scene by scene, and addresses the topic of mental illness and its perception in our society. As the students of Queensland Conservatorium were preparing for the world premiere of the original version, my collaborators from the same institution, Peter Luff and Ysolt Clark (aka Horn Hounds), requested that I reimagine two of the scenes for two horns and piano, for us to perform at their then-upcoming concert. I am fascinated with horn and its incredible storytelling abilities; for me, it is the only instrument that can tell a story as emotionally and effectively as a 48-member choir… Scenes 1 and 3 are contrasting in nature, both in terms of musical material and the events they describe in the oratorio. Scene 1 is an emotional outcry of the Madman, who is not yet aware of his blooming mental illness. It seems to him that the entire world is against him, and he cannot understand why. Scene 3 is an imaginary interaction between the Madman and his boss, in which the boss asks the Madman to entertain his two “puppy dogs”. At the end of the scene, the Madman promises that he will entertain the dogs by writing them funny emails.