Nanon (2022)


For euphonium and tuba duo with optional electronics

Bound Paper Copy ($15)
Includes: Printed sheet music and a link to download the accompaniment.

For more information, see description below.

SKU: EMUS-Nanon Categories: , , , ,


Nanon, for euphonium and tuba duo with optional electronic track, was commissioned by Gail Robertson and Stacy Baker, and premiered in Memphis, Tennessee at the International Tuba Euphonium Association South Central Regional Conference in March 2024. The musical score is presented in graphic format, as a map of the city of Paris in the late eighteenth century, beautifully designed and drawn by Qiudi Zhang. The performance involves the players making choices between elements of melodic material placed within the map.

In 1755, a young woman sailed to Paris from the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, to be reunited with her son Joseph, who had been sent there to school. She was Nanon, and she was enslaved. Her courage to leave home, and seek something new, inspired this work. Nanon lived the rest of her life in the bustling, artistic center of Paris, and raised her son, who showed unusual musical talent from a young age. She cared for and supported him, as he was educated at the finest academies in the city. Joseph grew up to become one of the most popular performers in France, known across Europe, for his work as a violinist, conductor, and composer of hundreds of works. Nanon’s bravery, and her willingness to work and move in a world with unending restrictions, is the story behind the scenes. Today we revere Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799) as a central figure in the Classical musical scene, but we do not know enough about the woman who made that possible. Nanon passed away in 1795, less than four years before her son’s own death. This work encourages us to pause and acknowledge the life of Nanon, and honor her love, care, and spirit.

The players can traverse the city in any manner, and choose the musical elements found at each place along their journey through the community. From the market at Les Halles, where we might find Nanon doing her morning shopping, to the sounds of Joseph in concert at the Hôtel de Soubise, or the Palais-Royale. Each musician performs at their own pace, choosing where to travel next, and how to arrange the melodies they find on the map. The river Seine flows serenely through the center, it’s melody calm and soothing. Both Nanon and Joseph would have often crossed the Seine as they went about their days, feeling the calm steady foundation of Notre Dance Cathedral alongside the river. Their apartment at 49 rue Saint André des Arts serves as home base, though Joseph lived for a time at the Hôtel de Montesson, where he likely met Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, eleven years his junior. The landmark Musée de Louvre, a royal palace with extensive art collections, which opened to the public in 1791, and the adjacent Jardin des Tuileries, were common concert locations.

The performance is designed to transport the performers, as well as the audience, to another time, and allow us to envision other lives and experiences. Through this honoring, the story of Nanon and Joseph allows us to broaden our understanding of the history of music, as well as our shared responsibility to showcase the stories of all.

Performance time: 6 minutes


Performance Directions

To begin, first center the mind, as the journey ahead is one of balance, based on the themes of teamwork, support, serenity and peace. The outside world fades away. Begin the accompaniment. Each player begins by performing first the melody found at the apartment home of Nanon and Joseph, at 49 rue Saint André des Arts. This can be done one by one, or together, in a relaxed manner, at any time during the opening as the electronic accompaniment unfolds. Do not feel hurried. It is not necessary to match with the other player.

From the apartment, the players may travel around the city in any manner, performing the melodic and rhythmic elements found at each location. The performers may at any time return to the apartment and repeat all or part of that musical phrase again. Both players work independently, from different areas on the map. Do not always attempt to play in the same time or rhythm with each other, but instead come together and use the melodic material to create new patterns and interactions which are the result of chance. Allow the melodic lines to start at various times, to mix and intertwine, and experiment with textures, harmonies, and variances of the melodic material as desired.

Improvisation is encouraged, in keeping with the calm and peaceful theme. The addition of light percussion is also welcome, which can be improvised to enhance the general mood. There are no points in the accompaniment which need to be matched to any of the map’s materials, allow it to support you, and decide for yourself where each area best fits.

Not all areas must be visited and performed, and they may be approached in any order. The melody of each location may be repeated as often as desired, and not all the measures need to be performed each time. After the performance of as many areas as desired, the piece is concluded when each performer returns for the last time to the apartment, for a final statement of all or part of that melody. Each performer arrives home in their own time, the one who arrives first waiting quietly for the other to join them.