A collection of music and stories inspired by Moby Dick for AnyWhen Ensemble, violinist/singer-songwriter Ellen McSweeney, and audio samples.

Boldly Launched Upon the Deep is a cycle of music and stories inspired by Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Portland-based composer, trumpeter, and writer Douglas Detrick, leader of the acclaimed quintet AnyWhen Ensemble, has blended his group’s signature instrumentation, classical-jazz hybrid sound, and captivating audio samples with the voice of Chicago-based writer, singer-songwriter, and violinist Ellen McSweeney to produce a 55-minute multimedia experience. Scored for the AnyWhen Ensemble quintet with guest McSweeney, the work uses original music, improvisation, and text to reveal a diverse constellation of contemporary perspectives on the themes of Moby Dick including the pursuit of connection, the anguish of regret, and the quest for control of our own destinies.

Drawing on composed scores, song, and spoken word, McSweeney and Detrick have created a carefully balanced symbiosis between live performance and pre-recorded sound of spoken prose and poetry, interviews, and archival sound cued during the performance by Detrick. Boldly Launched  includes passages written by New Yorker-contributors T. R. Hummer and Anthony Carelli as well as Emily Ruth Hazel, McSweeney, and Detrick. The resulting experience is a richly textured, uplifting journey of the spirit.

To create the initial episode of Boldly Launched, “In a Past Life,” Detrick commissioned McSweeney to write an original piece of prose and then composed music to compliment a live reading of her essay. Drawing on the moment in which Captain Ahab, consumed by his obsession with Moby Dick, refuses to help a fellow captain whose son is missing at sea, audiences are transported into McSweeney’s personal story of self-forgiveness surrounding her divorce at the age of twenty-nine. Her text, enveloped by Detrick’s brooding and atmospheric score, casts a fresh light on Ahab’s inner struggle by finding strength despite regret and loss. Other pieces include contemporary reflections on living with illness, the uncertainties of fatherhood, the absence of women’s voices in a male-dominated world, and our connection to, and alienation from, the natural and nautical world.

Boldly Launched Upon the Deep, the album, will be released in the fall of 2017, each track accompanied by an episode of Detrick’s new podcast AnySound. Episodes will include dissection of the source material, interviews with the writers and musicians, as well as voyages into the themes, setting, and longevity of Melville’s classic. AnyWhen Ensemble is currently booking tour dates of Boldly Lauched Upon the Deep for Fall 2017 and Spring 2018. Contact Kim Morris for booking inquiries at [email protected].  

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