I AM NOT A FAIRY PRINCESS
I was invited to perform at the 2015 Composers Concordance Annual “Composers-Play-Composers Marathon” concert. This is an event where composers present short new pieces that they perform themselves. The theme was “Bands” and I was partnered with three members of the Tenth Intervention Ensemble and asked to create a performance inspired by the idea of a band—as something different from a classical music chamber ensemble.
My solution was a piece called “I Am Not a Fairy Princess.” It is based on a series of six videos that my four-year-old daughter recorded using her mother’s old iPhone, in which she debates whether she is or is not a fairy princess. The music itself was an energetic mix of non-specific rock, punk, and jazz influences. The heart of the “Bands” concept was embedded in the performance.
The Tenth Intervention trio consisted of violin, piano, and drums. The drummer provided the beats and foundational energy for the performance. The pianist acted as keyboard player, adding little stabs of harmony and performing supportive riffs. The violinist was both lead and rhythm guitar, riding on top of everything else. I acted as both front man and bass player. I did not actually play an instrument but rather used my vintage Nintendo Gameboy to create a bass line and secondary keyboard riffs. I performed my daughter’s words: “Hello, I am not a fairy princess, but I told you so many times that I was a fairy princess…” while the trio pulsed behind me.
It felt great in the performance. The energy was up, the trio was incredible, and the crowd was receptive. It pushed me outside of my comfort zone. I had to practice a lot, saying the words over and over. This is not a piece that would ever have happened (it would never even have occurred to me) without the challenge and opportunity of this particular show.
It was fun to play with various bar band tropes, including a series of instrumental solos in the penultimate section of the piece. I called out each player by name, the way that the front man in a band might do—“On violin, Hajnal Pivnick… On piano, Dorian Wallace… On drums, Elliot Wallace”—before leading to the big finish: “They are the Tenth Intervention Ensemble. My name is David Morneau, and I am a fairy princess…. I don’t know who you are.”