Instrumentation: 3 flutes (1 doubling picolo), 2 alto saxophones, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, 2 trumpets, french horn, trombone, bass trombone, 2 electric guitars, 2 pianos (one doubling celesta), electric bass, 4 amplified female vocalists (SSAA)
Duration: ca. 19′
Text by Jeremy A. Schmidt
Program note: Every 10 years, as mandated by law, the United States government conducts the Census, a nationwide survey used to track demographic changes (in terms of population, age, sex, race, income, and ethnicity) among people living in the U.S. The results of the Census are in turn used to determine the geographical apportionment of Congressional representation and the distribution of more than $400 billion dollars in federal funds for schools, housing, hospitals, roads, and other projects at the state and municipal level. The Census also provides an illuminating snapshot of the United States’ shifting ethnic diversity; for instance, the recent 2010 survey demonstrated that the Latino population in the U.S. had increased 43 percent since 2000, more than doubling the total in 1990. The four vocal soloists in COUNTING sing text from the Los Angeles-based poet Jeremy A. Schmidt’s “Censuspeak” (2011), a meditation on modes of enumeration, civic responsibility, and economic disparity crafted from the language of the Census Bureau’s promotional campaigns along with statistics and language from past surveys, and excerpts from relevant passages of the U.S. Constitution. Schmidt’s text – and by extension the music – makes structural use of a metrical scheme adapted from Walt Whitman’s celebrated poem on the limits of empiricism, “When I heard the Learn’d Astronomer” (1900).