In Appetizing Portions

In Appetizing Portions is a song cycle in five parts by composer Fritz Myers and lyricist Clare Drobot. Scored for soprano, violin, and electric guitar, the five movements explore surreal scenes plucked from the thoughts of an Upper East Side woman attempting to cook her way into her mother-in-law’s good graces. Written for soprano Samantha Britt and violinist Andie Tanning with Myers on guitar, IAP received its first performance through the Eavesdropping new music series at New York City venue The Tank in 2012. In the intervening eight years as the creative team scattered across the globe, the music was recorded when paths crossed and time allowed, with the final session completed in New York City in February of 2020. In Appetizing Portions will be released on streaming outlets and Bandcamp May 21st, 2021 on Platitude Music.

Press Inquiries:  Zack Kraimer

Album Art by Anna Barbera

Teasers

Composer's Note

I had been in New York City a little over two years when Sam asked me to come to meet her and our friend Andie on the Highline to talk about “doing something” for a set at The Tank the following month.

We decided to take a big swing and create a new piece, agreeing to limit instrumentation to voice, violin, and electric guitar thinking that gave us the best chance at pulling off 25 minutes of newly composed music.  We also agreed to call our friend Clare Drobot, a playwright and dramaturg, to see if she could bring the rough idea of a song cycle about food to life.  Clare delivered with incredible speed, allowing me to dig into a text exploring themes of ethical consumption, food as sensory pleasure, madness, and the social politics of entertaining she seemed to have dripping from her pen.

The musical challenge of this piece, both in its creation and performance is the instrumentation.  The three voices form a triangle of sorts; each side essential in supporting the others as the piece tumbles end over end.  Every movement introduces a musical element that doesn’t appear in the others in an attempt to underscore the frustration, ecstasy, monotony, discomfort, and vulnerability experienced by the character; each reaching a climax or anti-climax reflective of those emotions.

Above all IAP is chamber music.  It could be performed at a dinner party to provoke or delight or in a variety of other contexts by a trio of musicians relying on one another to weave their threads into something greater.  The drone of the violin and the jarring chords of the electric guitar striving to support psychedelic notions proposed by the soprano: escaping the present moment in a pork roulade, or relaxing in a bath of chocolate and lavender, or finding your second love while indulging your first: doughnuts.  

In Appetizing Portions is dedicated to Andie and Sam.

– Fritz Myers

Artists

Samantha Britt, soprano

Samantha Britt is a Polish-American soprano living in Berlin who is particularly drawn to inventive projects that combine genres and express heightened emotions. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in vocal performance with an English minor from Carnegie Mellon University and her Master of Music from Manhattan School of Music. She won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in Boston, Massachusetts in 2008 and in 2009 she won the Career Bridges Grant for three years. Recent performances include Lucy in “The Telephone” by Gian Carlo Menotti with Opera Incognita in Munich, Kate/Lilli Vanessi in “Kiss Me Kate” (auf Deutsch), Frasquita in “Carmen” in the Rheinsberg Summer Festival, Cunegonde (“Candide”) in concerts with the Brandenburger State orchestra of Frankfurt (Oder), and the famous Queen of the Night aria at the Düsseldorf Tonhalle with the Düsseldorf Symphony in “IO und die goldene Records”. Samantha performed the soprano soloist in the world premiere of “Herakleitos” by Cyrus Meurant at the Hamburg Laeiszhalle. In March 2019 Samantha made her debut at the Berlin State Opera (unter den Linden) in the new opera “Babylon” by Jörg Widmann. In 2019, she also made her soloist debut at the Deutsche Oper Berlin as the Danish Lady in “Death in Venice”, by Benjamin Britten. She will return to the Berlin State Opera this fall as a soloist in the new opera “Sleepless” by Peter Eötvös.

Andie Tanning, violin

Andie Tanning is a violinist and performer. She is the cofounder and musical director of Wild Shore New Music, now in its seventh year as Alaska’s premier new music festival. She released her debut album, “Dandelion,” in December 2018. Steve Dollar of the National Sawdust Log writes, “The stylistically diverse Dandelion is not only a scrapbook of Tanning’s experiences and influences, but also an open and always surprising collaboration with composers and video artists whose spirits are illuminated through the violinist’s intrepid musicianship and exploratory nature.” She has toured internationally as a company member of the New York City Players, has served as a multi-instrumentalist in theater groups Object Collection and New Paradise Laboratories, was the fiddle player in the musical, The Snow Child, by John Strand, Georgia Stitt and Bob Banghart, and was a violin sub in the Broadway revival of Oklahoma!. Ongoing musical collaborations include a duo with guitarist James Moore, the minimalist rock band Thee Reps, and the development of a new opera by Aaron Siegel. Her album with James Moore, “Gertrudes,” was released on New World Records in 2016. She has performed at LA Opera, The Kitchen, The Pompidou, and Carnegie Hall. Her work has been reviewed by the New York Times, New Sounds Live, and The Wall Street Journal.

Clare Drobot, lyricist

Clare Drobot is a Pittsburgh based playwright and dramaturg. Her plays include: Between Us and Grace (New Hazlett CSA Project, Composer Nathan Zoob) The Bakken Formations (Ars Nova’s ANT FEST, Composer Fritz Myers, Project on Creative Capital's Radar), Inktrap (Princess Grace Finalist), Subprime (developed at Luna Stage and Passage Theatre), Ways of Seeing (semi-Finalist O’Neill Festival), and the lyrics for In Appetizing Portions (co-written with Fritz Myers). Her short work has been seen in the Old Vic New Voices “Out of Character” Contest, Culture Project's "Women Center Stage," BlueBoxWorld’s Sticky Series at Bowery Poetry Club, 8 Minute Musicals at NYMF, New York Madness, and in the New Jersey One Minute Play Festival. She co- wrote/created the web series In the Wood (NoMAA Grantee) and is a published poet. Ms. Drobot is currently the Associate Artistic Director at City Theatre Company in Pittsburgh, having joined the company as the director of new play development in March 2015. Prior to that, she was the resident dramaturg/producing associate at Premiere Stages, the professional theatre in residence at Kean University. Clare has worked in various capacities at Williamstown Theatre Festival, The McCarter Theatre, Passage Theatre Company, The BE Company, Laura Stanczyk Casting, and New Dramatists. She is a Carnegie Mellon graduate with degrees in music composition and creative writing, and a member of LMDA.

Fritz Myers, composer, electric guitar

Fritz Myers is a composer, mixer, and producer whose film scores include White Reindeer, The Harrow, and Little Sister, named best film of 2016 by the New Yorker's Richard Brody. He composes for podcasts, contributing to the second season of Serial and to Eric Marcus's groundbreaking Making Gay History. His work for theater includes The Bakken Formations: Tales From the New West which he co-created with playwright Clare Drobot for Ars Nova's ANT Fest and original music for Chisa Hutchinson's Sex on Sunday, directed by Jade King Carroll. He collaborates with other composers as a mixer, especially Nico Muhly, with whom he has mixed eight film and television projects including the BAFTA-nominated Howards End. He recently finished scoring Thomas Matthew's film Ghostwritten, starring Jay Duplass and Kate Lyn Sheil. Upcoming projects include the release of the song cycle In Appetizing Portions and his fourth collaboration with writer/director Zach Clark. He lives in New York City.

Words

PART I: Fred

I persuaded Fred, the ethical butcher
to give me the best cut of veal
Then on to Erin the cheese monger 
who’s slight condescension seems to flavor her wares
though her goats milk Stilton is sublime
I went traipsing the avenue 
to secure our stock 
Meyer lemon and organic chicken 
to roast and flavor
With garlic and rosemary fresh from the market 
Lychee and red tea Saffron and spices 
Kumquats and whatnots
Chicken paillard 
and a tub filled with lard 
the true secret to a light fluffy phyllo
My bags were soon laden with rosy red berries
Arms weighed down with all necessary ingredients 
ingredients needed to tickle your palate
thick cut bacon chicharrones and salmon fillet
I got heirloom tomatoes hoping you’d realize
it is so goddamn hard to get decent vegetables
in the middle of March

PART II: A Caloric Devotion

We met over doughnuts 
it was Bouchon in the Spring 
A chilly Sunday morning 
a little tradition 
a monthly excursion 
a caloric devotion 
I can taste it now 
He sat just behind me pocket plaid shirt 
classically handsome 
but I was lost in a doughnut 
It arrived on a plate 
a lightly fried wonder 
dusted with sugar 
only on Sundays 
I bit in I bit in I bit in 
all that cream 
so unctuous 
I bit in I bit in 
all that cream 
so unctuous 
With each bite with each bite 
a small groan grew 
a small groan grew 
from the back of my throat 
until 
I couldn’t help it 
until 
I couldn’t help it 
until 
I couldn’t help it 
until 
I couldn’t help it 
until 
oh God 
I love doughnuts 
I could feel the silence the stares 
Behind me he cleared his throat 
Slowly our gazes met 
His blue New England eyes asked 
“Have you always  liked  doughnuts?”  

PART III: Dumplings

A dumpling is a dumpling except 
Be it flour and shortening 
a fine rice paper wrapping 
a dumpling is a dumpling except 
Hearty fare for the winter 
or sweet cherries for filling 
a dumpling is a dumpling 
a sear made in oil 
steamed baked or boiled 
it will stick to the ribs 
leaving only a smile 
to linger on your lips 
a warm equatorial feeling 
that can only induce a request 
for a second encounter 
a dumpling is a dumpling except when it’s not 

PART IV: Moral Obligation

Do we have  a  moral obligation 
to creatures with whom we share the world 
I have heard that gavage 
isn’t painful 
for ducks aren’t human 
it just slides right down their throats 
they’re just like plump little children 
to be harvested  
and enjoyed by socialites 
I can’t claim to have an understanding 
of what it must take 
to butcher your own lamb 
nor have I taken up a shotgun 
or cast a fishing line 
the thought seems rather crass 
I prefer to have my meals presented 
In appetizing portions 
and paired with fine wines 
 

PART V: I Float

If I could I would jump in to a cool 
watermelon cucumber gazpacho 
Lifted on hints of elderflower  
infused with lemon and herbs 
I could  parse my way through scissoring 
in to a fire roasted red pepper and silken corn soup 
Feeling the intoxicating sense of heat 
wash across my skin as I float 
I find a sense of peace in sensation 
in hazy dreams where I can escape 
and hover safely above the kitchen table 
Have you ever cut open an aloe spear 
and smeared the gel across your face?
I used to buy them at my bodega 
Feel as it sucked the water from my skin 
My face growing taught my mind would stop spinning 
and I would wish I could encase myself disappear 
I have a sense of peace in sensation 
in hazy dreams where I can escape 
and hover safely above the kitchen table 
The clink of glass on glass chimes in 
Drawing me back to corporal reality 
Perhaps I could fold myself into a layer of potato gratin 
Or burrow inside the pork roulade 
For dessert I slip into a warm luxurious bath 
with chocolate and lavender 
coating me and cooling until I crack 
and emerge reborn  
 

©2021 Platitude Music, LLC