Artist Work Samples for Tear a Root from the Earth

These three work samples demonstrate the artistry of the lead artists involved in creating Tear a Root from the Earth.

Below them you will also find links to work-in-progress samples from our workshops and demo recordings. 

Purgatory in Ingolstadt

Marina McClure, director

In this excerpt from my staging of Marieluise Fleisser’s 1926 play, please focus on: 
-The overlapping textures (use of color, shapes, underscoring music, physical and gestural vocabulary, stage composition) that combine to create a consistent aesthetic. 
-Use of physical gesture to support the extremity of emotion (a sequence of advances and rejections is theatrically physicalized (0:40-2:00) and compositionally supported by duets DSL and USR and solos inside the room).
-My ability to harness the visual, aural, and emotional power of a large cast.
I will use similar techniques to build an immersive and dynamic world for Tear a Root from the Earth.

The Red and the Black

Johnny Walsh & Gramophonic, music & lyrics

This Gramophonic song reflects the toolkit of American music that most of Tear a Root From the Earth will feature, though it lacks the overlay of Afghan music that is crucial to the opera. “The Red and the Black” resembles the opera in two ways. Lyrically, it is a lament for repression and cultural eradication in Tibet and Xinjiang, Chinese-controlled areas of central Asia; as with the opera’s treatment of Afghanistan, nearly every line invokes a symbol of people and traditions under ferocious attack. Musically, the opera uses elements audible here like the accordion and drums putting a nightmarish spin on traditional American music (in this case, carnival music), thick vocal harmonies, and a cello line floating overhead.


Qais Essar, co-composer

Listen for the melding of my signature instrument, rabab, with the fiddle, piano, and drums common to American folk. We explore this fusion in Tear a Root from the Earth much more thoroughly, in terms of tone, instrumentation, and the addition of Johnny’s lyrics. Transmutation also highlights my straddling Afghan and American cultures, showing me wandering the American southwest in jeans before playing rabab wearing the traditional perahan tunban in white and gold (at 2:08, preceding the transition to more upbeat composition). My ability to exist fully in both these cultures is integral to the balance we strike in Tear a Root from the Earth.