Joe Hill, 16 Actions for Orchestra, Voice and Soloist is a 90-minute oratorio
based loosely on the life and times of Joe Hill. Premiered at the University of
Washington’s Meany Hall on October 30th, 2004, the piece features a 30 piece chamber orchestra
along with vocalists Danny Barnes, Robin Holcomb, Rinde Eckert and
soloist Bill Frisell. The music is a combination of original music by the composer,
re-workings of American work songs and songs of struggle, and new settings of words and in
some cases music of Joe Hill himself. The text is by writer and founding member of the
Flying Karamazov Brothers, Paul
Magid. The initial inspiration for the piece was Wallace Stegner’s novel,
Joe Hill. Stegner presents a curious hero. Visionary and true
believer, Joe Hill was also a petty thief, a drifter, and a serious self-promoter. He was
also a piano player.
Program notes for the premiere performance:
Joe Hill and the promise of Art and Politics
Joe Hill: 16 Actions for Orchestra, Voices and Soloist was recorded in 2007 and released
on New World Records.
The CD is available at record stores, online, and here at the
What the critics are saying about Joe Hill:
Joe Hill is, in fact, a ravishingly beautiful work... More elegiac than celebratory,
Joe Hill takes an oblique approach to the martyred labor leader's story, conveying the gauzy,
somber mood of a dream - history seen through the large end of a spyglass."
Paul de Barros, Seattle Times