Horvitz, Wayne / Joe Hill: 16 Actions For Orchestra, Voices, And Soloist
Album: Joe Hill: 16 Actions For Orchestra, Voices, And Soloist   Collection:Classical
Artist:Horvitz, Wayne   Added:May 2008
Label:New World Records  

A-File Activity
Add Date: 2008-09-14 Pull Date: 2008-11-16 Charts: Classical/Experimental
Week Ending: Nov 9 Nov 2 Oct 19 Sep 28 Sep 21
Airplays: 2 1 1 1 2

Recent Airplay
1. Jun 11, 2011: Music Casserole
Action 16: Where Flowers Grow
4. Nov 05, 2008: Brownian Motion
Action 6: On Another Shore
2. Nov 21, 2008: Memory Select
Action 5: It's A Lie
5. Oct 31, 2008: Memory Select
Action 5: It's A Lie
3. Nov 07, 2008: Memory Select
Action 7: Spike Driver's Blues
6. Oct 17, 2008: Memory Select: Tom Djll's "Mockracy"
Action 3: Worthy Of His Food

Album Review
Craig Matsumoto
Reviewed 2008-08-31
A theater piece, kind of like a radio play, based on the life of union organizer Joe Hill, who was executed in 1915 for a murder. The "band" includes a symphony, three vocalists, and Bill Frisell sparkling around on guitar.

The combination is interesting: cinema-soundtrack strings, plus spoken word, plus traditional 1900s folk/protest songs. Most tracks amalgamate all these elements in telling the story, and shift between speaking and singing, with turn-of-the-century folk songs frequently popping up with symphonic backing. The mood can be uplifting despite the heavy, sad nature of the story. It's quite theatrical and professionally done.

The story has to do with laborers' wretched conditions circa 1915 -- and secondarily, with relying on one's own actions to make things better, rather than just waiting for Christian promises of the hereafter (5,9). Call it Marxist if you must, but the libretto tries to make it clear that the things you now take for granted (WEEKENDS, for instance) came from the sacrifices of people like Hill.

For Horvitz's perspective on the work, see:

Voices: Danny Barnes, Robin Holcomb (Horvitz's wife), Rine Eckert
Symphony: Northwest Sinfonia

1,2,3 - Combine all the elements noted above. Slices of theater, creating the setting.
4- Straight folk song
5- Narration, then mostly a folk song about the (hollow) promises of Heaven. Tense, cynical ending.
6- Hill starts preaching unions; narration draws parallels between Joe Hill and Jesus
7- Straight folky, w/bluesy Frisell
8- Dramatic; mostly narration
9- Creeping, but builds. The starvation of the working man
11- Trad.folk song w/dynamic, dramatic backing
12- Antiwar song, slow and sad.
14- Upbeat, jaunty song
15- Joe meets his end. Dramatic but mostly quiet
16- Ends quiet, haunting (like Robin Holcomb's own songs)

Track Listing
1. Action 1: Power In The Union   9. Action 9: Lumberjack's Prayer
2. Action 2: One Day - One Hour   10. Action 10: To Have This Hour
3. Action 3: Worthy Of His Food   11. Action 11: Hard Time In The Country
4. Action 4: Jerusalem, Jerusalem   12. Action 12: I Never Died
5. Action 5: It's A Lie   13. Action 13: Nameless, Faceless
6. Action 6: On Another Shore   14. Action 14: Bound To Wake Up
7. Action 7: Spike Driver's Blues   15. Action 15: How To Die
8. Action 8: The Land As A Stranger   16. Action 16: Where Flowers Grow