Composed by John Ellis with a libretto by Andy Bragen, Mobro is a through-composed 90 minute piece for nine musicians and five singers.
There are lots of influences for Mobro. We sent ideas and links back and forth as we were writing the piece. Here are a couple of the things we were thinking about.
THE MOBRO 4000: We started here, with the actual journey.
PLASTIC BAG: A great short film. John found this somewhere, and it was very inspirational. It’s an amazing life journey from the point of view of a plastic bag. It ends up in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Werner Herzog’s mellifluous voice provides the V.O.: http://youtu.be/YDBtCb61Sd4
GARBAGE: A.R. Ammons book-length poem, Garbage, has always inspired me, in that it takes garbage as a sort of starting point to explore life and its ephemera.
AND THE SHIP SAILED ON: A 1983 film directed by Federico Fellini, the film opens in silence, with a boat being loaded. It’s an extraordinary beginning, which unfortunately I can’t locate online, so here’s the very cool finale: http://youtu.be/P7B2YhT2ggk
Organizations that made Mobro happen
The Jazz Gallery has supported our collaborations from the beginning. This piece was commissioned by the Jazz Gallery and developed during John’s monthlong residency there in April 2011. The organization is an extraordinary resource for musicians, and a great place to hear incredible live music.
The Playwrights Center – I (Andy) am a core member here. They awarded us a grant to collaborate with a really cool physical theatre company, Theatre Grottesco, in Santa Fe New Mexico. John and I spent a week down there in January 2011 exploring the piece with actors, and also talking through the narrative. We built a twelve part structure for the piece which served as a guide for the writing of both the music and the lyrics.
The Aaron Copland Fund for Music – The Aaron Copland Fund For Music provided a grant that helped offset a small part of the recording expenses for this record, and we are extremely grateful for their support.
John and Andy’s earlier projects:
Dreamscapes. This was our first project together. Andy wrote twelve line surreal “dream poems” for John, who responded to them by composing songs. The first showing was in 2007. Here’s a link to “My Dad’s White Tennis Shoes”: http://youtu.be/rmUtBAVfn-4
Other videos may be found here.
The Ice Siren. In our second collaboration, John and I moved from dreams to nightmares, creating a funny and creepy story about a man who’s dead lover lures him down into her crypt. It’s a funny/scary Tim Burton world, an hour long through composed piece for two singers and seven musicians. You can check out an excerpt here, and find plenty more on John’s youtube page.
What to do about garbage:
The short answer is to make a lot less of it. Here’s a link with potential strategies:
And here’s some info on ocean pollution: http://water.ygoy.com/ocean-pollution-facts/