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UCLA Magazine Spring 2005
From Murphy Hall
Living La Vida 'Lorca'
Stress Fractures
What's at Stake
The Importance of Being Elma
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The Quest
Through Women's Eyes
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Spring 2005
Living La Vida 'Lorca'

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In the summer of 1984, a looming deadline triggered a creative spurt in the composer that would be the envy of anyone who has stared at a blank sheet of paper. The NEA wanted work samples quickly. During a lull in the Falla Trio’s concert schedule, his career as a concert guitarist apparently doomed, Krouse planted himself at an upright piano in his Orange County home. Within three months he had written 80 percent of what would become Lorca, Child of the Moon.

It is easy to fall in love with Krouse’s score. The music is catchy but not cloying. The composer quotes heavily from Spanish folkloric music, as well as songwriters from his pantheon of musical heroes like The Beatles and Cole Porter. Some of the borrowed phrases might sound instantly familiar if heard out of context, but Krouse wove them into a musical architecture that is uniquely his own. Working at his piano one day, he stumbled on an unusual five-beat phrasing that he really liked. The unorthodox phrasing abstracts the original material and gives the composition an edgy modernness.

Krouse and Galbán picked some of their favorite moments, and went into the studio and recorded them. “We sent the tape to Washington, D.C., and they loved it,” he recalled.

With two more grants from the NEA, the BFA staged three workshop productions of Lorca, in 1985, 1987 and 1991. The workshops generated a lot of good buzz in the theater world. When the lights went down at the BFA’s 99-seat equity-waiver space, there were important people in the audience, among them Gordon Davidson, the founding artistic director of the Mark Taper Forum, and the stage director Peter Sellars. Though Lorca received scant attention in the press, the response among theater people was positive, even glowing. One person and another talked about doing it here or there. And then, nothing.

“The piece went into a kind of dormant phase after that workshop,” Krouse says. “We realized that it wasn’t a little intimate chamber opera. It had to be a full-scale, grand opera with costumes and dancers and a set and all the trappings. And neither the BFA nor I had all the connections and resources to do that.”

At the same time, Krouse’s life had taken an entirely different turn. In 1990, he joined the music faculty at UCLA. A couple of years later, he met Chika Kawahara, who became his second wife. (His first marriage ended in divorce.) In 1995, the couple had their first child, Ryan, followed by Eryn two years later, and Arlen in 1999.

“I never forgot about the piece,” Krouse says. “But as you get older, a decade can blow by.”

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