McCormick Percussion Group

November 1, 2015
Concert Hall, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
this living air
John Liberatore 

Program note
The title, this living air, as well as the movement subtitles, are drawn from a cycle of poems by Garrett Brown titled Manna Sifting. While the music is not knowingly inspired by or otherwise bed on the poems, the poetry helps me articulate a metaphor or commentary for the music I've created. To put it more simply, the poems "fit" the music, at least in my opinion. Manna Sifting is a cycle of six poems. With permission from the poet, I include here the tree poems from which my titles are excerpted:

From Manna Sifting:
What the Window Said
This light that pours through me
is not my own. I've seen
you lie in bed after waking to watch
dusts motes float
like angels in a streak of morning. 
You imagine each one is a cell
dead skin,
as if all night your body
has seen snowing into air. There was a time
when prayer was the slender hand
that soothed you into dreamless sleep.
But then the curtain was torn and then the night
became raw as god
tumbled out of the sky and slept
inanimate across the yellowed grass,
his body decomposing into the wet fog
you will sift for scraps of manna.

What Michelangelo Said
It is not the mold
that is empty, waiting
to be filled with metal
conquered by fire. But I,
hollowed by desire
for that which I adore, 
the breath, the thumping
heart of this fragile life;
this molten spirit pours
into me through such 
brief moments
that to draw it out, I must 
be shattered and torn.

What the Tomatoes Said
Tonight you cook eggplant
and remember it is a nightshade,
a mandrake root with claws
imbedded in your brain. 
who can comprehend
garlic's smell, the sizzle 
of onion in olive oil, 
the fragrant green of basil?
These are the days of veneration, drop
to your knees and drink this living air. 

this living air was commissioned and premiered by Robert McCormick and the McCormick Percussion Group with pianist Eunmi Ko. The work is dedicated to Eunmi, with great admiration for a long-time collaborator and friend.
--John Liberatore




EUNMI KO, piano 

Matt Barber (
Seunghee Lee (
John Liberatore (
Baljinder Sekhon ( 
Ciro Scotto