The Baths of Caracalla

4 alto flutes and recorded sound (CD) (2007)

(excerpt) Performed by Flute Force: Elizabeth Brown, Sheryl Henze, Rie Schmidt, and Wendy Stern

From the private CD release The Baths of Caracalla

duration: 7:38

program note

In The Baths of Caracalla, four alto flutists serenely emerge and recede from a recorded soundscape which includes theremin and bowed psaltery as well as a choir of prerecorded alto flutes. Together, these form imaginary reverberations from the actual Baths of Caracalla of ancient Rome, now a vast, mysterious ruin.

In its heyday, the Baths of Caracalla was a wonderful place for friends to meet, with its combination of physical indulgences and artistic and intellectual stimulations. It probably felt like present-day Seattle. In addition to hot and cold baths, a swimming pool, and a gymnasium, it had a public library, art galleries, gardens, shops and restaurants. It was famous for its beautiful fountains and statues and its mosaic-covered walls and floors. The members of Flute Force (I was a member when I wrote this piece) are all good friends, and we enjoy spending social time together almost as much as we like to play music together. Writing this piece for us, I imagined us coming together in such a place as the Baths of Caracalla, where we might play our alto flutes in great, reverberant acoustics. The alto flutes are our voices, coming out of the recorded portion which represents our inner lives and thoughts, revealing how much we have in common.