While not a musical, The Good Woman of Setzuan would not be the same without its score. There are several floating around already, but the newest originated at USM from the pen of senior music major Travis Ramsey.
Ramsey, whose concentration is in music education, composition, and trombone, has written music before, but this was a large undertaking.
“It’s a very, very big project, 45 minutes to an hour of music,” he said. Although he recently finished writing a series of preludes and fugues before beginning The Good Woman of Setzuan, he considers the latter a bigger challenge.
Part of that challenge came from the nature of the play.
“As I have understood Brecht, he very successfully made people think about what they’re saying – the music does that as well,” he said. “You can do it over the top and be tacky, but if you do it too little they might not notice.”
Director Minor Rootes believes that Ramsey has captured the spirit of the play well.
“I am extremely pleased with the music. We listened to several scores and none of them were right and then Travis offered to write a score,” said Rootes. “He has written a score which I’m very excited about.”
Likewise, Ramsey, who worked with Rootes last spring during a production of The Imaginary Invalid, is happy to be part of the project.
“I just love working with Minor,” he said.
He also loves working with the musicians who are performing his music: Meghan Andrews-Chute, Meghann Connell, Timothy Garrett and Jeffrey Coggins.
“I was lucky to be able to get them to work with me. They can bring so much to the work that I couldn’t expect,” said Ramsey. “I’m so fortunate to work with those people.”
The work, written for piano, cello, flute/clarinet, and percussion, serves as an often unexpected counterpoint to the action of the play and shakes up the audience.
“You’re supposed to hear it and say, ‘Are they pulling my leg?’ And the answer is ‘yes,'” said Ramsey.
Arts & Entertainment Editor Meghan Conley can be contacted at [email protected]