Smiles from Miles (Andy Costello)

from by sarah albu

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Smiles from Miles is written about and dedicated to Sarah Albu's
brother Miles, who had been born Emily. I give my sincerest love
and gratitude to both Sarah and Miles, without whom this piece
would not exist. Sarah is a total powerhouse in theatrics, so this
piece naturally has a lot of “dialogue” and “stage directions”
written into the score.Sarah also tends to think of musical
passages in terms of role-playing (i.e. “Who am I when I’m singing
this passage”), an approach I wanted to play towards. So, the piece is filled with “characters,” including one of my personal favourite alter-egos that resides in Sarah, the silly and zany pre-adolescent girl.The piece is in three parts. The first is an awakening of the “s”. Through restrictions in the throat and airways, the “s” can represent the suppression of one who feels he/she was born with the wrong parts – like the imbalanced hissing of a gas tank ready to explode (or perhaps implode). The second part breaks open the stage dimension, elongating the detailed motional aspects of panning in the first part into a circus-like promenade. In the final part of the piece, the beauty of the human voice sings above all else. The essence of the human spirit has less to do with whether we have a penis or a vagina, or whether or not we
have a Y chromosome, or whether or not we have an “s” in our pronoun. We transcend these labels through our more basic human qualities, like a smile. On the surface one would say that Miles, going from a “she” to a “he,” had lost an “s” to become the identity he is today. But, as I stared deep into his word, and what his word used to be, I discovered that the “s” was not misplaced, but simply displaced, and rejoined to a different word, his name, “Miles”, to form a new word, “smiles” – a word that does much more justice to identity, personality, and the profound essence of being human. This message is brought to you at the end, in the same double talk that once ridiculously imposed the gender boundaries in the schoolyard lesson, but now acts to obscure and transcend the dichotomy into something more basic and human, and familiarly shared. And it’s no coincidence that Miles and Sarah share a wonderful smile. :)

(c)Andy Costello 2012

see the performance score here:,_Andy)


from trickpony, released May 31, 2013



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sarah albu Montreal, Québec

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