Carol Worthey

Lyricism, Drama, Passion and Beauty

Main menu: Home | Events | Composer | Author | Painter | Gallery

Carol Worthey Events


"Some major events of 2020. Don't forget
 you can peruse the Event Archive for prior years
 by clicking on the links in the sidebar."


2020 Events Archive Table

     "Mythical Menagerie" Premiere Performance~Hong Kong, China
     "The Tides of Mont Saint-Michel: A Montage" Premiere Performance~Hong Kong, China
     "Happy New Year!"

Using the Events page:

To view an event, simply click on the title text from the Table of Contents below. Doing so will take you to a description of the event and associated images. Clicking on the image will present a higher resolution version, clicking again restores the original image. At the bottom right of each detailed description, you will find a "top" link that will move you to the top-of-page and a "toc" (or table-of-contents) link that will move you there. Happy viewing!


Score Cover
1. Nenu, Mermaid of Giverny
2. The Werewolf's Flamenco Moondance
3. Mythical Creatures Council

The World Premiere of
Mythical Menagerie
by Carol Worthey

Pianist, Stanley Wong

On Saturday, December 12th 2020 in Hong Kong, Concert Pianist Stanley Wong premiered my piano suite Mythical Menagerie that he commissioned in an online "virtual" concert heard worldwide. The work is a suite in three movements. I'm thrilled to be able to present to you this performance in the video on this page. I wrote three fictional tales which I utilized as the programmatic basis of the suite's composition. Let me share some program notes with you...

1. Nénu, Mermaid of Giverny

A Fictional Tale by Carol Worthey as The Programmatic Basis for Her Piano Composition of that same name

Nénu (or in English "Lily") was a small mermaid who swam and cavorted in the waterlily pond made famous by Impressionist Painter and Genius Claude Monet (1840 - 1926). Her iridescent tail measured only 18 inches long, featuring peacock-like green, cobalt, gold, silver and cherry red highlights. Her eyes were hazel-green and her wavy locks were the subtle color of papyrus fronds, soft silvery-tinged light gold. Her mother and father had decided to take a vacation to the Normandy Coast when she was ten years old, but left her there at Giverny with a koi fish who was teaching her how to scuba dive.... Mom and Dad Mer-Family had decided to flip their agile bodies on to a train caboose just to get to the seaside quickly, but sad to say, they never made it into the fast-moving train car. Nénu never knew how her parents had perished, and underneath her playful, mischievous, energetic personality lay a feeling of being abandoned, a little deep whirlpool of loneliness and unanswered questions.
Nénu was named after the French word for waterlilies "nénuphar" and that was where she loved to sit and sun herself, on one of the lovely velvety waterlily pads that encircled and carpeted all the beautiful pond on Monet's Giverny estate. When the sun got too hot, she'd swim underwater over to the red Japanese bridge spanning the pool. But most of the time she spent playfully diving, swimming and splashing amongst the multicolored water-carpet of the lilies. Nevertheless, she did not relish being spotted by the painter.
Ironically he never noticed her, thinking that a sudden flash of "something leaping up or diving down" on the pond must either be a koi fish or a symptom of his constant tireless labor indicating he needed an afternoon nap or a wet towel over his tired eyes to refresh them.
So Nénu defied her spunky spirit and love of play by being shy when it came to meeting the painter. Perhaps she was afraid that she'd be captured, put in a small tank or... Mon Dieu, non, non... end up on a platter at déjuener. Over all, we can speculate that she felt concerned that the surprise of seeing something mythical, magical, and quite unexpected might be a shock too hard for even Monet's imagination to absorb, especially at his age. After all, he was no youngster at that time, a wizened, bearded figure with a pot belly and tired hands and feet, always massaging his aching back, consumed with each dot or stroke or blended color on the huge canvases before him.
You see, Monet went nearly every day to the pond, calculating when different times of day would light up or shade the water-scapes there, so that he could capture the play of light and color as it changed moment to moment. Monet had always been fascinated with how objects transmogrified as the day wore on, how time was an illusion but ever so powerfully true. Monsieur Claude found himself challenged to portray both change and stability. He was mesmerized by the flow of the water, moving close to the canvas then walking ten feet away, while the nearly abstract shapes of the waterlilies wove a tapestry that moved and shimmered as the pond surged and shifted, as the early morning became full sun.
By noon, every day, truly like clockwork, he would leave his multiple easels and canvases there by the pond, cover his palette and paints with a muslin cloth and stroll back to his charming house for a rich lunch prepared by his devoted wife to be laid out on linens in their lemon-yellow and blue diningroom. Often his guests would join them, Renoir, Degas, Gustave Caillebotte and sometimes Matisse, Cézanne or Jean Cocteau, sipping wine and relishing a delicate fish appetizer (how that would have made Nénu shudder), a roast chicken with petit pois grown in their resplendent garden and crème brulée in tiny porcelain cups.
What was there lacking in this work-and-regaling-schedule? The sight of a REAL MERMAID aswim at the pond.
Shhhh.... don't tell Monet. He'd make her pose for hours as he painted her!

  Mythical Menagerie — Nénu, Mermaid of Giverny

Program Notes

Color, Light, Motion and always Water, frothy fountains of it, improvisational splashes of it.
As I composed I found myself immersed in a carpet of floating lily pads, forming mozaics as they tickled each other on the everchanging surface of the pond at Monet's estate Giverny. I wanted to evoke both the Mermaid (as a ravishing creature with a lonely but playful heart) and Monet's shimmering masterpieces. When I first saw the real Waterlily Paintings in the Parisian oval gallery, they made me weep. Now it was my turn to pay homage as best I could, to Monet, to myths, and to mermaids.
Arrayed in the jewels of sonorous ribbons of pianistic runs, the music I squeezed slowly from my inner ear and soul can be liked to a kaleidoscope, always changing and yet returning in fluid fashion to its beginnings. Water can be contained, in a glass, in a pond, but it always defies containment.
As I evolved each moment of music, searching at times for many hours, I aspired to recreate the way the sun plays with shadows in the passing of time, something that fascinated Monet. Sometimes the music just flowed in a split second, sometimes I struggled in search of iridescent bellsounds. I was looking for that mysterious hue or harmonic change that would both surprise and pleasure the ear and the eye's imagination. I surprised myself every now then by sprinkling dissonant clashes here and there. (Nothing is dissonant really if it expresses a unity with other parts of the music or gives the listener a chance to feel refreshed by surprise.) But repetition has its purpose too as it gives music something recognizable and creates Structure and Form and a sense of Evolution, or Resolution. Just as water slips and slides back into itself, the opening passage returns again and again. There is triumph at the close, mimicking the intense joy of creativity and the sheer feeling of water-waves! I believe that Mermaids are real, we just have to see them.
Here in sound form is the Giverny Mermaid Nénu's playground! Please read Nénu's story and relish her way of life and how disciplined Monet's lifestyle was too. How ironic, just a few feet away from where Nénu cavorted in the pond was the masterpiece-maker Monet, somehow (so absorbed in each stroke of paint) that he never saw her or had an inkling she was even there.
From the first measures I unabashedly and purposely conjured up the misty glistening warmth of Debussy (whole tone scale, oriental touches, harmonic lifts to give a sublime feeling) or the crystalline clarity of Ravel's orchestral palette. At least, I hope you think I learned by reverent imitation well enough to make your own sound-painting and mermaid-portrait while you listen or play the piano.
Color, Light, Motion and Always Water. Monet, Myths and Mermaids.

2. The Werewolf's Flamenco Moondance

A Tale by Carol Worthey Based on A Spanish and Portuguese Folk Legend "The Wolf-Child."

Let us begin our foray into Flamenco with the story that the music portrays:
When Pedrocito was born in a small town in Andalusia, his parents took the babe in their arms and examined him with love from top to toe. He was perfect, all ten fingers and toes, but they did notice one small feature, a birthmark on his arm: It was in the shape of a Crescent Moon. His mom and dad didn't know it, but Pedro was a Wolf-Child.
As the infant grew into a young boy, his parents doted on his every new development. All seemed normal and delightful but every once and a while little Pedro sneaked out of the house (it so happened that the moon was full) and returned home out of breath to fall asleep instantly. They scolded him lovingly and this habit stopped for many years.
Pedro grew up to be a handsome young man with thick black curly hair. He was genial and had many friends, but he stayed indoors when the moon was full and kept to himself for some reason. He said he just wanted to read and have some quiet. But...
One night, Pedro grew impatient and crept out of the house into the surrounding woods. Yes, the moon was full and the light of it made an aura all around the trees. Pedro began to dance.... As he moved to the Flamenco rhythms, he began to be transformed into the shape of a wolf. Faster, more passionate, more dissonant became the song, until whirling and twisting, Pedro attempted to dance away his wolf-shape and become a young man again.
The dance became faster and more furious until the very moon itself became embodied in its whirlwind.
Pedro collapsed... he was a man again.

  Mythical Menagerie — 2. The Werewolf's Flamenco Moondance

Program Notes

I recommend that you first read the story (above) I created based on a Spanish and Portuguese folktale — about a Wolf-Child. The path of the music closely follows the actions and emotional feelings of this story.
Basically: In Andalusia (renowned cultural center of Flamenco) a baby is born with a birthmark in the shape of a crescent moon. Unknown to his parents, he is a Wolf-Chld. When the moon is full, he feels compelled to go into the woods where he transforms into a wolf, whirling and dancing during his agonizing but passionate transformation. At the end he is drained from his dance-frenzy, but human once again.
Flamenco is not one form, it has many styles and various rhythmic and harmonic variations. There are many forms of Flamenco but basically I used "Bulerias". Clapping, singing, dramatic postures and fluid movements including foot stomping and castanet-playing, as well as the strumming and chordal nots of the guitar are characteristic aspects of this thrilling and dramatic dance, which itself is a form of storytelling (often "about" the pain of love). Flamenco developed over the centuries from nomadic (Gypsy) and other groups, but is associated most strongly with a region in Spain known as Andalusia. The well-known "Andalusian Cadence" is A minor, followed by G Major, Fmajor and E major, often decorated with Arabic and other melodic tones.
12   1   2     3    4   5    /    6   7   8   9     10    11    /
where the groupings of notes are shown by the underlining line. Intermediate accents are on the 12, the 6, the 8th beats but strongest accents are on the 3 beat and 10 beats as shown in bold above.
To transcribe this into a meter pattern that can be understood by a pianist (or guitarist) often is expressed (for ease of reading and playing) as a meter of 6/8 tempo followed by a meter of 3/4, then 6/8, followed by 3/4. To fully give a Flamenco feel, stronger accents should be on the 3 and 10 beats. This system is totally different from the usual Western notation which has a strong beat (1) on the first beat of the measure.
I do not pretend to have created a classically perfect or "typical" (if there is such a thing) Flamenco piece. A purist would shrug and say it's not authentic. When composing this, I let the story and the music propel me to create what I did, not to be a stickler for details that would compress the excitement into a box. What it is is an approximation and a way to give exciting impetus to the Wolf-Child's story.
The music begins with moonlight, glowing, a bit eerie, compelling, entrancing. As the Flamenco theme (excitingly dissonant at times) begins, it starts relatively slowly just as a dancer might do to emphasize passion, then gets faster the second time (as if the Werewolf were dancing more and more in overwhelming transformation from a person into a wolf, in part ecstacy and part agony).
The final (third) time the theme appears, it is presto, played nearly as fast as the pianist can play it. Then it slows, because the Wolf-Child has begun to become human again — he's exhausted. At the end the moonlight again appears, calming this time but still a bit eerie, until the final moments again reflect (in rubato) the passionate Flamenco spirit.
Please note: The often-changing metronome indications are NOT written in stone, whatsoever. The basic format should emphasize medium slow (first Flamenco theme), then faster, then fastest. Feel free to vary the rhythms according to your sense of what works pianistically and dramatically. I added all these metronome suggestions almost reluctantly, knowing they are only hints to give a general idea. The full rhythmic and tempo evolution of the piece are entirely up to the performer. Feel the passion and have fun!

3. The Mythical Creatures Council

A Description of Their Purpose, Motto & Illustrious Members Working to Restore The Good Repute of Magical Creatures amongst Humankind

A "True Tale" by Carol Worthey serving to present Theme & Variations in a Piano Work of that name

The first Mythical Creatures Council was formed in 1520 during the Renaissance in Florence Italy in order to redeem the good repute of magical creatures and to alert humans to two assertions:
  1. Such creatures as Unicorns, Pegasus, Dragons and The Phoenix actually exist and are real (having hidden out in forests and lakes for ages, even before humans evolved to populate and dominate the Earth). Mythical Creatures are not myths, but they certainly are magical... and inspiring.
  2. Magical Creatures have gotten a reputation for cruelty and horror, but most of them are benign and love to help mankind. Evil ghosts and monsters do not represent the good-hearted ones and the council works to change this bad Public Relations Image... to no avail, in most cases.
So on the five hundredth anniversary of the founding of the original group, in 2020, a new Mythical Creatures Council was formed, consisting of a Unicorn of distinction, Pegasus (who flew in), a festively attired Dragon and a Phoenix who re-materialized out of a fireplace. The Council (aware that scientific and technological advances had occurred since 1520) adopted a Motto:
E = mc2
This (based on Einstein's famous theory) signified Energy = Mythical Creatures Two (the second council in history) and also Energy = Magical Creatures Squared (energy plus).

  Mythical Menagerie — 3. The Mythical Creatures Council

Program Notes

In order to bring in a variety of magical and positive-image creatures into the Mythical Menagerie Suite (and to feature some animal-spirits in this work, different from the human-type creatures in the other movements, mermaid and werewolf), I decided to create a basic Theme and vary it to represent each member of the Council. I hit upon a ceremonical, but unpretentious melody, lyrical, powerful-in-its-simplicity, with a subtle sense of grandeur and grace. From this Theme sprang Variations, each embodying the charismatic qualities, actions and "fabled look" of these iconic animal spirits:
  • Unicorn: A bittersweet, nostalgic melody followed by suggestions of neighing and stomping
  • Dragon: The triumphant, colorful good-fortune-bringing Chinese dragon in all his glory
  • Pegasus: An evocation of winged Pegasus soaring into the sky above the earth, very lyrical
  • Phoenix: First the flames, then ashes, followed by a transformation as the Phoenix rises again The Finale incorporates elements from earlier variations and closes with blazing energy!
I hope you enjoy "meeting" them!
Here is the audio of the full performance of all three movements without interruption:

  Mythical Menagerie — Full Performance

The premiere had been exceptionally well received. You can watch the full performance of all three movements in the following video:
top    toc   


Score Cover

The World Premiere of
The Tides of Mont Saint-Michel: A Montage
by Carol Worthey

Pianist, Stanley Wong

Hosted by Stanley Wong

On Saturday, July 15th 2017 in Hong Kong, Concert Pianist Stanley Wong premiered my piano suite he commissioned that travels back in time to an age of kings and saints, knights and ninja-like monks protecting the coast of France, fierce and spiritual times of the Age of Chivalry. It was some time before the recording that was made finished editing and was released as part of Stanley's CD Sonic Landscape . I'm happy to finally be able to post this beautiful recording below.
The Tides of Mont Saint Michel: A Montage! is a kind of TIME TRAVEL. Enjoy!

  The Tides of Mont St-Michel — Full Performance

Below you can listen individually to each section.

1. The Bells of Time

The triumphant, rich sonorities of the bells at UNESCO World-Heritage Site, Mont Saint-Michel begin our musical Time Travel back to the 10th and 11th century. In the past many bells rang from the bell tower, triumphant bells that come back to life here as if triggered by ancient reverberations of battles, prayers and redemption.
Today one enormous bell alone is rung whose bottom note happens to be E-flat (the lowest sounding note here) shimmering with higher harmonics.
The triumphant bells are followed by a graceful tribute to beautiful, brilliant Queen Eleanor of Acquitaine, who entertained knights, cardinals, performers and royals in the huge feast-hall during the Age of Chivalry. (She was the mother of Richard The Lion-Hearted and helped develop the charisma and practices of knighthood and troubadour song and poetry).
Eleanor of Acquitaine then takes a refreshing walk in the Cloister Garden pursued by a knight or prince in a subtle dance of flirtation and poetic banter.
The bells return, ringing throughout the centuries.

  The Tides of Mont St-Michel — 1. The Bells of Time


2. Illumination

There is something life-infused in this movement that is intended to remind one of the illuminated manuscripts or the stained glass windows of early times.
Before Mont Saint-Michel was built, the pre-Christian French Celts worshipped this rock-island as the meeting place of the Living with the Dead, a place carved out by a tsunami wave that hit the coast of Normandy in 709 A. D. and leveled an entire forest.
Early Christians sensed there was something holy about this wild place, part grazing land, part island, surrounded by quicksand. So when Abbot Aubert, Bishop of Avranches, Normandy was visited in a dream by Archangel Michael and ordered to make a monastery on the top of this precarious spot, he initially refused. After the third such dream, he finally agreed.
If you listen to the repeat of the saint's entreaty-theme, you will hear it being followed by a troubled musical "no, I can't do that, too hard" but finally the answer is "Yes" and the monastery begins to be constructed, a miracle of architecture and intense muscle.

  The Tides of Mont St-Michel — 2. Illumination


3. Battlecry of St. Michel-in-Peril-of-The-Sea

This was more than a center of scholarship and devotion, the monks weren't just praying, creating scrolls and tending crops, they were warriors, almost Ninja-like. Despite centuries of invasions by British armies (including a thirty-year-long siege), Mont Saint-Michel was never defeated and defended all of France.

  The Tides of Mont St-Michel — 3. Battle Cry of St. Michel-in-Peril-of-The-Sea


4. Chant Angelicus

Fueled by a chant the composer created herself, a glow of reverence is lifted in subtle tone-clusters (small dissonances that add tenderness to the harmonies), prayers rising the Gothic heights of the chapel, flowing to God through the circles of earlier Romanesque windows.
This movement is tinged with the kind of devotion and sacred awe that has made Mont Saint-Michel a place of Pilgrimage since early Medieval times.

  The Tides of Mont St-Michel — 4. Chant Angelicus


5. Chant de Roland

Like King Arthur and the Knights of The Round Table in England, France's near-mythical hero Roland was the central figure in many a travelling troubadour's song. Today the poetic lyrics that sing of Roland exist in Old French and translations, but the original music has been lost — it was a huge hit throughout Europe. The composer has taken the rhythms, rhymes and moods of this heraldic poem and set it to a tapestry of melody and harmony to bring this epic back to life.
Roland it was who sounded the Horn to call Christian troops in the forest to defeat the invading Moors from Spain. He is said to have been handsome, hugely skilled, a true leader and courageous, all the qualities of the best Knights — AND he had a magic sword, only to be wielded by him.
Encircled at last by Moors in the forest, he was fatally wounded but fell on his magic sword to hide it so that it would not be captured. The movement ends with a depiction of this noble death, which in a sense is an ironic victory of the spirit.

  The Tides of Mont St-Michel — 5. Chanson de Roland


6. Tides

Mont Saint-Michel has the highest tides in Europe. The site becomes an island after the torrential flood, and subsides into a pasture land for the famous sheep who graze on it. Quicksand dots the plain on low tide and knights on their horses were known to disappear in the strangulating mud. The monastery and its small town are testaments to the power of human endeavor and sacred prayer against the ravaging forces of nature.
This is an extremely challenging pianistic work, encompassing the entire scope of the keyboard, and demanding a true virtuoso. Pianist Stanley Wong delivers!

  The Tides of Mont St-Michel — 6. Tides


7. Bells Echo through The Ages

After this musical visit, this Time Travel to this holy place, the bells again return, this time with a misty solemnity that is meant to express that times gone by can live again when memory meets a long-standing message: We in our sacred or embattled visions can conquer not just stone, not just quicksand, not even death itself, if we retain a sense of reverence and defend the battlements of Freedom, the sacred need for connection to the Divine, the meeting place of the Living and the Dead.

  The Tides of Mont St-Michel — 7. Bells Echo Through the Ages

The initial premiere was exceptionally well received and Stanley Wong has performed it for many occasions since the premiere.
top    toc   


Happy New Year!

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

top    toc