Violin, cello, clarinet (or saxophone), flute, piano, percussion (anvil, roto-toms, temple blocks, ride cymbal, tam-tam (large), ride cymbal, hi-hat, bull roarer, orchestra bells, glass chimes, wood blocks, bass drum, mark tree)
Premiered by the MN Contemporary Ensemble in Grinell, IA on October 2, 1999.
Libby Larsen Publishing
On October 19, 1962, a 29-year-old stewardess fell 1500 feet to her death when she was swept through an emergency door on an Allegheny Airlines twin-engined Convair 440, which was flying from Washington to Providence, Rhode Island. This fact inspired James Dickey's 1967 fantasy poem "Falling." In real time, Francoise de Moriere took approximately 9.6825 seconds to hit the ground. She hit it at about 309 feet per second, which is about 211 miles per hour.
In his poem, Dickey chooses to take a commercial point of view. A writer of Coca-Cola commercials himself, Dickey was a master of the advertising image in poetic form. His unnamed woman, Dickey's vision of the 1960's perfect magazine image and an object of sexual desire for the farmers below her, quietly, calmly practices flying, observes the topography below her, imagines the possibility of landing in water, sheds her clothes, and when she hits the ground, she lives for long enough to consider her own death.
Neon Angel is a piece for Francoise de Moriere, and a piece about time, point of view, and brutality. Sound collides with sound, time collides with itself, and Francoise de Moriere is given back her scream.