6:15 pm, Friday, October 14, 2016
Respondent: Bora Yoon, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Music, Princeton University
Ben Cosgrove, “Place of Many Waters” (traveling composer, performer, and nonfiction writer; Fall 2016 Artist at Sea, Schmidt Ocean Institute; Associate Editor, Ecomusicology Review)
In the 1930s, Massachusetts’s Swift River Valley was forcibly depopulated and flooded to form the Quabbin Reservoir; the four towns that previously occupied the region now exist only in remembered stories and the artifacts that prompt them. In situations like this one, where a place has literally been taken off the map, it can be difficult to track the gradual drift of those collective memories’ fidelity and harder still to pretend that they are unaffected by the simple, inescapable knowledge of that place’s erasure. My piece “Place of Many Waters” positions these ideas in an allegorical tonal setting: its structure is intended to illustrate the progression and imperfections of place-memory through an event like the flooding of the Swift River Valley and to explore the inevitable compromises and metamorphoses the identity of a place undergoes when only memory can reconstruct it.