We are pleased to release a new composition by musician Meaghan Burke, a response to Jesus’ foretelling of his second coming in Matthew 24 in which he describes to his the disciples that all the horrors of war and famine will be a mere prelude to the sorrows of the apocalypse – only “the beginning of birth pangs.” This work was commissioned by Spark and Echo Arts 2012 Curator James Hall. Meaghan holds degrees from Yale University and Konservatorium Wien. She is currently pursuing a Master of Music degree in Contemporary Cello Performance at the Manhattan School of Music.
Meaghan, with a few concerns:This image of birth led me to imagine the chagrin that earth must feel to be told that all the catastrophes it suffers, from earthquakes to civil war, are nothing in comparison to what will come. I envisoned the earth as a mother unable to believe that, after suffering over and over and over again, there is any suffering left to spare. The song alternates between the perspective of this weary world, forced to destroy the children it has borne, and that of a human being, with the very human concerns of being separated from those she loves (“what if I am taken and you are left?”) and being deceived by the so-called “false prophets” (“what if I see Him where I’m not supposed to?”). The final chorus asks, simply, in an anguished bluesy lament, why anyone or anything would build such a beautiful thing as this world, only to destroy it.
Meaghan Burke’s debut album Other People’s Ghosts (for cello and voice) sounds like what would happen if if Jacqueline Du Pré were raised on rock and roll, and folk, and cabaret, and blues, and free jazz, and spent too long in Vienna. Or if Tom Waits picked up the cello, drank several pots of coffee, and had a sex change. Whatever that means.
Above all, Other People’s Ghosts is about stories – of bedbugs, of bedfellows, of things like love – and Burke’s rich yet vulnerable, smoky-toned voice and deep, growling cello keep these stories playing over and over in our heads long after the last track is finished.
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