Tone Poem Tuesday

You may remember a hilarious sketch comedy show from the 2000s called Key and Peele; and if you do, then you likely know that Jordan Peele, one half of the comedy duo from that show, has gone on to an impressive career in filmmaking, mostly in the horror genre. He even won an Oscar for one of his screenplays a couple of years ago.

Peele, like many directors, seems to have established a partnership with a particular composer for his filmscores: a man named Michael Abels, who in addition to his film work has composed a number of meaningful works for the concert hall and who has worked hard to increase the visibility of composers of color. This particular piece dates back to 1990, and its title–“Global Warming”–refers not to the ecological challenge of our time, but the specific feeling of international goodwill that was emergent in the handful of years immediately following the end of the Cold War.
The piece opens with a coldly stark sound that gives way to exuberant dance which blends a number of elements from national music all over the world. One might expect that character of music, given this theme…but at the end it returns to that coldly stark sound, as if to express skepticism and a return to wariness even as old enmities were seemingly falling by the wayside. In this Abels may well have been prescient.

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