Jon Christopher Nelson (b. 1960) is currently a Professor of Composition at the University of North Texas where he is as an associate of CEMI (Center for Experimental Music and Intermedia). Nelson’s electroacoustic music compositions have been performed widely throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. He has been honored with numerous awards including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fulbright Commission. He is the recipient of Luigi Russolo (1995), Bourges Prizes (1996, 1997, 1999, 2002 and the Euphonies d’Or prize in 2004) and the International Computer Music Association’s Americas Regional Award (2012) and Music Award (2020). In addition to his electro-acoustic works, Nelson has composed a variety of acoustic compositions that have been performed by ensembles such as the New World Symphony, the Memphis Symphony, the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra, ALEA III, and others. He has composed in residence at Sweden’s national Electronic Music Studios, the Visby International Composers Center and at IMEB in Bourges, France. His works can be heard on the Bourges, Russolo Pratella, Innova, CDCM, NEUMA, ICMC, and SEAMUS labels.

and sometimes wind from the south (2014)

I have long admired the poetry of Robert Gregory, having set one of his poems for voice and fixed media and having been captivated by his work on many occasions. His poetry has provided inspiration for my own work, finding its way into not only my work titles but also into the conceptual foundation of a number of my compositions. When I heard that he had passed away, I spent some time reviewing his work and revisited a recording I had made of Bob reading several of his poems in the early 1990s when we both lived in Miami, Florida. One of the three works I had recorded, and sometimes wind from the south, provided an ideal poem for me to set in memoriam. This text-sound composition is based on Bob’s inimitable voice and strives to capture some of his fanciful imagination and lively spirit.

and sometimes wind from the south by Robert Gregory (1947-2018)

and sometimes wind from the south
and sometimes there is no way to be ready
she looked bad as far as losing weight
one tooth left, the other lady said
(there was a seed in her)

it’s amazing what they do these days
and sometimes there is
(there was a rising in her heart)
and sometimes there is overcast
and the bread gets a complicated taste from that, from the sky
(often walked solitary)
and sometimes whatever it is decides to vanish
and sometimes the sky is full of a previous sky
they tried to get the ring off
she never would have wanted them to do that
(all was dark and under the chain)

(she came among a people that relied much on dreams)

threw out all the clothes
he didn’t want them around, to remind him
(to quench the spirit)

stuff nobody wears any more
even so, said the other – they didn’t waste any time
and sometimes whatever cracks the cat is forbidden
and sometimes we don’t feel all that human
and sometimes the dragon who lives in the dead tree begins to sing
(to speak of these things being within)

and sometimes I remind myself of a parking lot
five minutes at the graveside and in she goes
well, when my time comes

I want it short and sweet

what was she like when you were kids?
she was a princess

and sometimes we disregard the cues
and sometimes the old ladies put pebbles in the soup
and sometimes the walls are more rubbery than absolute
and sometimes you wake up and immediately fall into
a hole of some kind that fits you perfectly
and sometimes the girdles are so cheap you might as well try one on
since although ugly they promise control
and sometimes General MacArthur comes in a dream
and sings a song about his crumpled hat
all night long, for you only

did she die quietly?
how do you mean?
(the passages, the ordinary monster)

well, was she awake? Did her heart
(rubbish and crooked ways)
and sometimes you watch tv angrily, as if to punish someone
and sometimes inside big buildings we puff up as well
and sometimes people are so groomed that
grooming seems all there is to it

and sometimes there are the twenty-eight constellations
to assist the brightness

go on her in her sleep or . . .
oh God no, it all went on her, kidneys,
liver, heart, the whole business

the sky is soft (it’s night again)
the buildings are proud of their edges
out there somewhere past their lines
is what they call “the ocean”

the sleepwalker,

the wind has come up
it suggests that we go walking
leave the door open behind you
don’t come back